Brisbane mall protests continue

Issue 

Brisbane mall protests continue

By Maurice Sibelle

BRISBANE — Brisbane City Council and police adopted a low-key approach at a rally in Brisbane's Queen St Mall on February 19. The rally was the third such action to protest against the crackdown by the council on political activity in the mall.

At previous rallies, police have arrested some 18 protesters for selling newspapers and exercising their democratic rights.

Susan Price, spokesperson for the Democratic Socialist campaign in the federal elections said after the rally, "We should not assume that the council has given up its campaign against democratic rights in the mall. It's obvious they are maintaining a low key approach because the federal election is nearing. Besides, I think some state government ministers and councillors are getting cold feet on the issue."

Price, candidate for the seat of Brisbane, was a speaker on the platform of the rally. Other speakers included Lou Gugenberger from the Greens, Toby Borghees from National Union of Students and Terese from the International Socialists.

Price continued, "We have won a lot of support in the community for free speech in the mall. Already over 3000 people have signed our petitions. For three Fridays in a row, hundreds of people have rallied in the mall in support of our democratic rights. I think Lord Mayor Jim Soorley has picked the wrong issue to dig his heels in on. Others in the Labor Party can't see the sense in fighting this. They've got more to lose than gain, and we will make sure of that."

The rally was organised by the Free Speech in the Mall Committee, which was formed at a meeting of 30 activists on February 15. The new committee has already drawn on support from civil libertarians. Its aims are to win back the rights to distribute and sell political literature in the mall, to erect a stall and to speak with reasonable amplification.