News briefs

March 1, 2008

@head6 =Racist police brutality alleged

@9point non = BRISBANE — In a media release issued on February 24, Queensland Aboriginal activist Bob Weatherall accused police of assaulting him and his daughter the previous night in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley.

"We were having a fun night out at the Troubadour watching one of our favourite bands, Texas Tea", said Weatherall. "A group of us then went on to the Not Quite 299 Club where a series of sick events unfurled instigated by their power hungry bouncers. Nelson, my daughter Yarraga's partner, was hurrying up his mate to return inside the venue before lock down at 3am. The bouncer said they had 30 seconds. When they came to get in, he said they were one second late.

"Yarraga, who was at the entrance, then wanted to speak to her partner, when a venue employee grabbed her drink and poured it all over her. Police arrived almost immediately and arrested Nelson, handcuffing him and taking him off to the police beat. I then came to the door to find out what was going on. When I asked the bouncers police pulled me away and pepper sprayed me. Another friend was also sprayed while trying to protect me."

Weatherall said he was then dragged by police 20 metres, and his daughter was pepper-sprayed when she tried to assist him. He also accused police of bashing his brother, who had to be hospitalised.

"I had my head split open by the police while trying to assist my daughter", said Weatherall. "We were then charged and sent to the central watchhouse. We were left sopping wet and shivering for over fours hours. Never in my 30 years of police relations have I been so brutalised by police. At no time was there any cause to use force."

Weatherall added that there were numerous witnesses to the incidents who would testify to the police brutality.

Alex North

Qld protest against NT-type intervention

BRISBANE — The move by the Queensland government to carry out an intervention into Aboriginal communities similar to the Howard government's Northern Territory intervention last year, was opposed by protesters who picketed the Queensland Parliament on February 28.

Organised at only a day's notice, the protesters condemned plans by federal Aboriginal affairs minister Jenny Macklin and Queensland Labor Premier Anna Bligh to introduce "quarantining" of Aboriginal welfare payments in several Queensland Indigenous communities on a trial basis.

Bligh told parliament on February 27 that new legislation to permit control of welfare payments would be passed by July 1. The legislation would trial controls, under the auspices of a new Family Responsibilities Commission, in the north Queensland Aboriginal communities of Aurukun, Hope Vale, Coen, and Mossman Gorge.

"Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has betrayed the hopes of Aboriginal people", prominent Queensland Aboriginal leader and Socialist Alliance member Sam Watson told the picket. "Rudd had huge support from the Indigenous community during the federal election last year. Rudd and Macklin are now threatening to extend the NT intervention to the whole country.

"Quarantining welfare payments denies Aboriginal sovereignty. Don't punish the victims. Aboriginal people need real housing, real jobs and real health care.

"They shouldn't have to sign away land rights in order to obtain roads, housing and health care that they should be entitled to by right. You don't alleviate the pressure on Aboriginal communities by denying welfare cheques."

Bill Mason

Socialist candidate calls for transport revolution

@9point non = BRISBANE — At a meet-the-candidate BBQ and picnic in New Farm Park on February 17, David White, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the March 15 Brisbane City Council elections, said: "We need to give the community of Brisbane a real choice. In the past, whether the city council has been either Liberal or Labor controlled, nothing really changes. In the last four years [under a Liberal mayor and a Labor-majority council chamber], there has been nothing for the residents or workers."

White is a long-time environmental campaigner. He has acted as president of the Community Action for Sustainable Transport (CAST) and is running for the ward of Brisbane Central, held by Labor Deputy Mayor David Hinchliffe.

"We need a new vision for the council", White told the audience of 30 people. "We need a radical change in the direction of the council. We need a transport revolution, including free and frequent buses and ferries.

"Lord Mayor Newman is pushing for five tunnels under the Brisbane River, at a cost of $12 billion. Similar road tunnels in Sydney have failed. Ratepayers in Brisbane will be hit with the bill for the next 45 years.

"Meanwhile, we have million dollar houses everywhere, but people sleeping in the streets. Representing the Socialist Alliance, we want to campaign for a council accessible to and controlled by the people."

Other speakers at the gathering included Nes Nagie, speaking on the struggle for Indigenous rights, and Katelyn Mountford from the socialist youth organisation Resistance. She stressed the need to draw young people into the development of a new vision for the council, and pledged the support of Resistance for White's campaign.

Jim McIlroy

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