BY NICK FREDMAN
LISMORE — Activists in northern NSW are gearing up to participate in October protests in Brisbane during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting — and on August 11 50 of them gathered to discuss the issues, and debate the tactics, behind the mobilisation.
Motivations for protesting were not hard to find, with speakers from the Brisbane Stop CHOGM Alliance, the Socialist Alliance and the National Union of Students Queensland highlighting CHOGM's colonial past and pro-corporate present.
Visiting Papua New Guinean trade unionist Stanley Iko spoke of his country's experience of neo-liberal globalisation, including the escalating struggle against privatisation and the brutal police response, which included the killing of six people during protests in June.
The diversity of actions planned at CHOGM has also produced some differing ideas about tactics, which were debated in one session.
Stop CHOGM Alliance's Camille Barbagallo outlined the work on campuses, in unions and in communities being undertaking to build a blockade of the convention centre, where CHOGM is being held, on October 6.
While not opposed to a blockade, Tim Stewart from the CHOGM Action Network cautioned that the layout of the venue and the attempts by the state government to co-opt the movement into various "peoples" events meant a blockade might not be the best tactic in this instance. He urged support for the "March on CHOGM" that the network is organising with a wide range of groups on October 6.
Both coalitions are participating in a counter conference on October 7.
While few agreed with one participant's view that CHOGM was a more democratic institution than the the World Trade Organisation and therefore did not "deserve" to be blockaded, many more did express concerns about the feasibility of blockading the meeting.
The teach-in was organised by the Global Justice Alliance, a new network formed by activists involved in the M1 and S11 protests. The alliance has resolved not to take a position on any particular action, but rather to publicise all anti-corporate protests at CHOGM.