BRISBANE — "The City Heart Business Association only believes in the music of cash registers. We must not let them dictate to us what we can do in our city centre; it is the only real focal point in Brisbane", said city centre hairdresser Willy Bach last week after threats to have police remove sellers of Green Left Weekly and the Socialist from the Brisbane Mall.
The association is campaigning to enforce the Bjelke-Petersen-era Mall Act banning public speaking and dissemination of information in the mall. Defiance of the act became a symbol of opposition to the draconian anti-democratic legislation of the Bjelke-Petersen government.
"The findings of the Electoral Administration Review Commission are gradually being implemented by the Goss Labor government. Some of the undemocratic anachronisms of the former regime are disappearing", said Bach.
"It is incredible that in 1991 Mr Graham Campbell Rider and the City Heart Business Association should persist with the notion that free speech belongs somewhere else — away from where most of the people are. EARC did not accept this argument. There are already street performers and fashion parades to draw crowds. This is part of the enjoyment of the mall.
"Many of the smaller traders in the mall are not members of the City Heart Business Association and are not represented by them. The street/mall belongs to all ratepayers of Brisbane.
"We could ask who are the City Heart Business Association and what their agenda for the mall is.
"In 1986-88, when the mall extension, bus tunnel and the Myer Centre were being built, they did not represent the small traders' interests to the city council concerning their losses. There was, instead, a very close relationship with Sallyanne Atkinson. It was just as difficult for the small trader to see Mr Campbell-Rider as it was to see the lord mayor.
"We want our city centre to have more than just the same major stores we can find at any of the regional shopping centres, and we want the right to say so — in the mall." n