Police try to ban Occupy Sydney and Socialist Alliance from Newtown Festival

Police at Socialist Alliance stall at Newtown Festival. Photo by Rachel Evans.

Socialist Alliance (SA) stallholders at today’s Newtown Festival were told today by a festival organiser that NSW Police had urged them to ban SA and Occupy Sydney from the festival.

The SA has paid for and run a stall every year at the festival. But this year police threatened organisers — the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre — with a $16,000 bill if they did not carry out the ban, saying that the presence of SA and/or Occupy Sydney might incite trouble.

The festival organisers allowed the SA stall regardless. But early on the day a squad of armed police and a private security officer who pointed to our "Socialist Alliance supports Occupy" banner and said: "That is the problem".

SA activist and local community activist Rachel Evans spoke to festival organisers who said that they had no problems with the stall or the banner.

However, several Occupy Sydney activists were stopped - by both police and festival staff - from handing out leaflets at the festival. The leaflets advertised upcoming events, including a "free school" and an "anti-corporate greed tour" on November 19.

Later acting Superintendent Anthony Metcalf from Newtown Police station came to the stall and explained to Socialist Alliance’s Susan Price that the police wanted to protect the safety of the festival goers, which could be disrupted if far right-wing groups were to approach the stall.

Socialist Alliance’s Pip Hinman told Green Left Weekly: "Socialist Alliance members, along with many others with a broad range of political views, have been active in Occupy Sydney, which opposes the tyranny of the richest 1% over the 99%. We are proud of this involvement and support for the global Occupy movement.

"This an outrageous attack on freedom of political expression in Newtown which has a strong tradition of political and cultural diversity. Socialist Alliance is a respected political party in this community. Any attempts at political censorship by the NSW police or any other authority will meet strong opposition from local residents."


That is outrageous. I know cops aren't lawyers but A/Supt Metcalf needs to get himself a copy of the High Court decision of Coleman v Power, I'll even give him a link - http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/2004/39.html

Specifically, I refer to Justice McHugh's statement at paragraph [102] -

Regulating political statements for the purpose of preventing breaches of the peace by those provoked by the statements is an end that is compatible with the system of representative government established by the Constitution. However in the case of insulting words, great care has to be taken in designing the means of achieving that end if infringement of the constitutional freedom is to be avoided. In so far as insulting words are used in the course of political discussion, an unqualified prohibition on their use cannot be justified as compatible with the constitutional freedom. An unqualified prohibition goes beyond anything that could be regarded as reasonably appropriate and adapted for preventing breaches of the peace in a manner compatible with the prescribed system.

Because socialism doesn't promote censorship?

No, of course you are totally right. Anyone who uses the term socialism, an ideology broadly identified as supporting social polices based on equality and the needs of society, is quite clearly a Joseph Stalin-worshiping wannabe dictator who has already started work on their bushy moustache and has plans to turn Christmas Island into a concentration camp... oh, the socialists are too late there.

There is no such thing as democratic socialism, anyone who supports socialism wants to censor everything and that makes it OK for the police to ban the stall of an electorally registered political party, committed to peaceful means of engaging in politics, and prevent the group from peacefully distributing leaflets and newspapers explaining their point of view.

Stalin was a mass murderer, who slaughtered millions of Soviet citizens. As Stalin was not from among the aristocracy or wealthy merchant or factory owners, he decided that the RSDLP would bew his tool for his own rise for power. Once in power, He ordered the execution of all save two of the original Soviet Politbureau with two exeptions - himself and Lenin who had died early. To support Socialism is not to support this ruthless mass murder. It is to support a a greater degree of public/community ownership and decision making than that which occurs in a liberal democracy that is Australia. For years Trotsky debated as to whether what Stalin instigated was a new form of socialism. It most certainly was not democratic.

'Democratic' comes from two Greek words - 'demos' meaning people the other is 'cras' meaning Rule. I personally do not believe that Australia is a true democracy as though we are free to choose who to vote for, we are on a daily basis governed by financiers, markets and employers. True democracy is when the people rule - not just vote once a year or three. we must take control not only of parliament/congress, but also of the streets, and the workplaces too. This is what I understand to be Democratic Socialism.

It's not clear from the article. Was it the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre or the NSW Police?

Hmm. I'm not a socialist (well of the post-trotskyite/cliffite/party kind, anyway), but this is outrageous. Didn't we learn a damn thing as a society from Crown vs The Communist party in the 50s?

I have heard accounts of both of police and festival officials stopping Occupy activists from leafletting at the Newtown Festival. The article has been amended to make this clear.

Peter Boyle

I worked on the event - this article is not balanced. Further inquiry should be made. It is agreed by all stallholders upon booking at the event that there are certain restrictions with regards to the disemination of leaflets and the locations of signage.


Also - aren't all police armed in Australia? I cant help but think the inclusion of "armed" serves no purpose other than to inflame this issue.

I also suggest further inquirys be made regarding this $16000 bill.

before you start spreading the "anti" messaging, it may be good to remember that there are many forms of socialism, and many of the rights we enjoy in our country are due to the influence of social democratic assumptions. Social democratic ideas are a form of socialism.

You "worked on the event". What does that mean? Are you an organiser? Do you speak for the Festival? Perhaps you are in as you are in the best position to make those enquiries? It disturbs me that you can be so blase about the fact that plods have taken it upon themselves to arbitrate on who and who should not be allowed to have freedom of speech in Newtown. The fact that people who "work on the event" should be so concerned about petty restrictions on leafletting is also disturbing.

We should ban the Socialist Alliance and all political organisations from promoting their brands in conjunction with the Occupy Movement
The Socialist Alliance should not be placing advertising on the Occupy Movements banners.
The Occupy Movement is not about socialism, that's a complete misrepresentation of the Occupy Movement.

To extend that, why don't you argue that no-one should bring ANY material that advertises anything not clearly part of the branding devised for the Occupy (TM) movement. "We are the 99%" is acceptable. Anything else that might be detract from the Occupy (TM) movement's strategy is out. Socialism, environmental issues, girl guide cookies, all banned.

Perhaps you can register Occupy (TM) with the Melbourne City Council so you have the right to hold up placards with approved slogans in the square, and laugh derisively as the socialists, equal marriage, anti-uranium, pro-indigenous and other issues-based protesters are dragged out of the pure and sterile Occupy (TM) space.

Alternatively, we could all grow a hide and learn to deal with other people's differing ideas and allegiances like adults.

I am part of the team that runs the event on the day; there is no need for me to identify myself, as i am not the official Festival spokesperson. I simply stated that further enquiries be made and then reported, so as to provide a more balanced article.

I am aware of what the facts are and i suggest that the Greens Left makes enquiries with Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, refers to copies of the stall holder agreement signed by SA and requests an official statement from NSW Police regarding this matter. I am not a reporter, it's not my job to make these enquiries.

The "disturbing", "petty restrictions on leafletting" are part of the contract signed by stall holders and has been the case for many years.

Did you attend the event? Can you please give some examples of where the "plods" decided on who and who should not be allowed to have freedom of speech? There were plenty of other advocacy groups participating at the Festival who were able to work within the guidelines set by the Festival and still have a successful day.

Perhaps next year, you could volunteer for this fundraiser for the Newton Neighbour Centre, an organisation who definitely supports the 99%.

I don't think the occupy movement is about siding with the cops to enforce censorship. You can put forward your view that it is, but no-one is obliged to agree. Likewise no-one is obliging you to agree with Socialist Alliance or socialist solutions to the crisis of capitalism.

Nick Fredman

Yes, all subversive ideas and actions should be banned and all whoever expresses them rounded up and confined to concentrations camps, for later action.
Signed Superintendant Plod,
Newtown Police station.

Peter Ward Merriwa. To the Anonymous there appears to be many of you. Please people use your name or are you ashamed of it have you no conviction in what you state.
We don't have democracy in this country I am sorry to say for we don't have free and fair elections you cant compel a freedom besides the phrase being a contradiction in terms. Here you are fined if you don't have your name crossed off the roll you may even be sent to jail. For not voting at a FREE election????.
The absurdity of conferring whether a secret ballot vote has been cast is another contradiction. You see what happens when people lie,the old adage "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive". is quite apt when it comes to the machination's of our political system.

Only people lie language cant. So an analysis of what is said or written will show the lie 'the greater the ambiguity the greater the lie' Peter Ward.
Having a Democratic socialism is like having a Democratic monarchy or a Commonwealth monarchy or Democratic capitalism they are all contradictions. Democracy is a social contract socialism is an ideology or dogma.Commonwealth is a process by which a peoples may attain a democratic state. Democracy is a continual striving to attain social equality and harmony. It is not a state to be claimed but an attainment.
Capitalism goes go hand in hand with a monarchist and corporations these are the tools that monarchies maintain their power and thwart the development of a democratic state. They all have a common basis that is of power whose main charastic is that it knows no reason it is power for power sake.Although we are incorporated we are not a corporation we are a community of diversity yet like minded in our love of the Motorcycle and where it has and dose take us.
Peter Ward

Peter, a simplified definition of socialism could say it means extending democracy to the economy so corporates can be brought under the control of the people. How is this incompatible with "democracy"?

Privately owned central banking monopolizing the creation of credit (debt) works well for the 1% over the 99% regardless of the politics of a nation.

Debt creation is not a matter of socialist v capitalist ... politicians & political parties are simply the keepers of the gate & maintainers of the illusion.

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