The battle of Bennelong

September 16, 1998

SYDNEY — On September 9, Resistance members PAUL BENEDEK and RYAN LIDDELL ventured into PM John Howard's Sydney electorate of Bennelong to protest at a One Nation meeting which featured Pauline Hanson's chief adviser David Oldfield. Below is Paul's account of the adventure.

We arrived at the venue at the advertised starting time of 7pm to find no other protester in sight. One Nation posters indicated this was the right place, so we grabbed our trusty copies of Green Left Weekly (cover headline: Can We Stop One Nation?) and started selling at the gate.

To our surprise, we each sold a paper to people entering the meeting! We were joined by six other young people — including two from the Young Australian Democrats (the only YAD members in Bennelong). They sat on a blanket and held candles and asked us to sing with them.

Our small group of protesters were approached by two loopy One Nation supporters — one screaming about the coming "fourth world war" and the Jewish conspiracy. The other harassed Ryan, who had verbally demolished the racist arguments. Ryan was grabbed and shoved. So was I, when I told the deranged racist to settle down. Channel Seven caught some of this on camera.

Once the meeting had begun, we had a discussion with the YADs and others outside. We asked the YADs what they thought of the Democrats' "zero net immigration" policy. The leading YAD defended it, saying it was not an immigration policy but an environment policy.

We pointed out that One Nation could equally defend such a policy by claiming it was "not an immigration policy but a jobs policy".

We explained the real causes of environmental destruction — big business and its governments' drive to make profits, using the Jabiluka mine as an example. By the end of the discussion, a friend of one of the YADs put her name down on a Resistance mailing list. The leading YAD added that the Democrats' immigration policy was "under review".

We decided to check out the meeting. During question time, Ryan introduced himself as a Resistance member and asked David Oldfield about One Nation's support for conscription. Oldfield then asked us about our support for Cuba — and a debate on Cuba, and then democracy, raged!

The last question we asked centred on two signs at the meeting entrance: "Mr Oldfield, why does this sign say Pauline Hanson's One Nation is the 'Voice of the people', and the one next to it says 'Membership fee: $5 — no voting rights'?" This sent the meeting into an uproar.

We left the peculiar, somewhat surreal meeting steeled for the next battle with the racist One Nation party. But before we could go, two people from the meeting asked to buy the latest issue of Green Left Weekly.

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