Help get Green Left around: Free speech under threat

Issue 

Pip Hinman

At one of the regular Green Left Weekly Saturday stalls in Newtown, Sydney, the chats with locals and passers-by was interrupted when the local constabulary demanded to see a permit.

"What permit", the Green Left supporter asked?

"Your permit to have a card table on the footpath", the policeman replied.

"But we have been here for decades, every Saturday", the Green Left supporter said, "and we've never been asked for a permit before".

"You will have to get one from the council for next week, or you will be closed down", came the abrupt reply.

After that, the police demanded ID and took down his name and address. Why? He was being treated as suspect.

He rang the local mayor who, happily, is a sympathetic Green. He informed us that there was such a thing as a "stall permit", but that it was usually only deployed by the Labor Party against the Greens during election campaigns. He wondered out loud why it was that the local police had decided to take on the council rangers' responsibilities, and we ventured that perhaps it had something to do with the then pending new "security" laws.

The same thing happened last week in Newcastle, in a spot where Green Left Weekly supporters hold regular stalls. There, a council ranger informed them that the card table could cause difficulties and that unless they could show public liability insurance, and a permit to distribute Green Left Weekly, they would not be allowed back.

Green Left Weekly has been around since 1991 and is the largest circulating independent newspaper in Australia. We are a voice of dissent. Now that John Howard, with Labor complicity, wants to turn Australia into a police-state, our right to publish dissenting voices will be under even greater threat.

There is little other explanation for the sudden interest by police and council rangers in Green Left Weekly. Even before the new terror laws have been passed, the state is obviously feeling increasingly cocky.

We have been engaged in an ongoing battle for the right to use public space to distribute the newspaper. Media barons like Rupert Murdoch can buy a permit for hundreds of thousands of dollars for the "right" to distribute mX, but we, and others like City Hub, cannot.

Green Left Weekly was critical to alerting folks about the civil rights and anti-war rallies last weekend, and we have been working hard to help build the ACTU-called industrial relations protests on November 15. We have had calls from Green Left Weekly supporters from Taree in NSW to Townsville in Queensland asking for extra bundles of Green Left to distribute at the N15 protests. If you can help out, please get in touch with me at
or ring 1800 634 206.

In a thank-you note to Green Left, Jamie Storer, one of the courageous striking Boeing workers said: "I hope we can help squash these IR changes, not that it makes much difference to us at the moment, however it more than likely will in the future".

We have always relied on our readers' support and we certainly need it now as we head into unchartered political waters.

From Green Left Weekly, November 9, 2005.
Visit the