Alex Bainbridge

As preparation for APEC, the NSW Labor government made a list of every one of its tried and tested methods for suppressing dissent. Then it went away and thought up a few more! It used every measure it felt it could get away with — purchased a new water cannon, increased police powers, emptied jails — in order to intimidate people into not joining the September 8 “Stop Bush” protest.

Thousands of people will gather at Sydney Town Hall on September 8 in what is expected to be the largest protest demonstration during the coming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

Lawyer Michael Bozic, unionist Peter McLelland and investigative journalist Wendy Bacon addressed 100 people at a July 16 Sydney public forum. The meeting was organised by the Stop Bush Coalition in the lead-up to protests during the September APEC summit, which US President George Bush will attend.

“John Howard is more than happy to welcome war criminal George Bush to Sydney in September, but he won’t even give the time of day to struggling workers, such as Botany Cranes union delegate Barry Hemsworth, who is still on the grass more than 300 days after being unfairly sacked”, Socialist Alliance activist Pip Hinman told Green Left Weekly.

Jasmine Ali was found not guilty on June 26 on charges relating to her involvement in a February 22 protest against US Vice-President Dick Cheney. The same day that she appeared before the court, the NSW government’s APEC Meeting (Policing Powers) Bill passed unamended through the NSW upper house. Ali was the second of two Cheney protesters to win court cases. There are six more trials to take place.

Twenty people gathered on June 22 in defence of civil liberties and in solidarity with Joanne Ball, who was facing trial. This was the first trial of an activist arrested during February protests against visiting US Vice-President Dick Cheney. By the end of the day, the prosecution’s case had collapsed and charges were dismissed.

Fifty people demonstrated outside the defence plaza on June 15 to protest the beginning of the Talisman Sabre military exercises at Shoalwater Bay.

Socialist Alliance hosted a discussion on June 12 about standing up to the “police state” laws introduced into the NSW parliament for the period of the September APEC summit. One person arrested in connection with the G20 protests in Melbourne last November told the meeting that police had directed him not to attend the APEC protests. He urged participants not to be intimidated by such tactics.

Forty protesters were met by hundreds of police — including members of the riot squad and mounted police — as they gathered to picket PM John Howard’s attendance at a $250-a-head Asia Society function on June 6.

The presence of heavily armed SAS troops could complement extraordinary powers for NSW police during the September 7-9 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Sydney, which will be attended by 21 international leaders including US President George Bush.

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