Retrogressive Melbourne Mayor Robert Doyle’s response to Occupy Melbourne

23 Oct
23 October, 2011

Mr. Doyle,

I am appalled by your venomous, disingenuous and impolitic response to the peaceful Occupy Melbourne protesters. The windy desert of City Square now stands fenced off from the public on whose behalf you artlessly proclaimed to liberate it, so what was the point of calling on the state riot police to violently evict people? You then compounded your shortsightedness by both denying police violence occurred, (“a minimum of force”, you lie) and falsely claiming it was provoked in a dog-whistle Herald Sun op-ed, when the whole operation was openly reported by the press and captured on video many times over by Melbourne’s citizens.

Your bluster marks you as reactionary and completely out-of-touch with the tenor of the times. You have kicked the right of peaceful, public dissent in the small of the back with a polished brogue. “Allowed to continue for a week”, you said. As several other commentators have pointed out, there is no time limit on legitimate expressions of democracy. I think you will find that your heavy-handedness actually alienates us, the average Melburnians you say you act for, come election time. I saw no evidence of the criminal damage, the lust for violence in the protesters that you claimed to see.

You now align yourself against the needs and wishes of the broader community. As in many of the other democratic, public political movements this year, it is not now only the “noisy, confused minority”, the “serial, professional protesters” who were there witnessing and protesting, who were punched, pushed, sprayed and dragged over the public’s City Square. Members of your council were involved, city workers, business people, volunteers, engaged students. Many of the ordinary Melburnians you represent now also have an inkling that they, too, can participate peacefully and effectively in their democratic process. And if some of the protesters are serial, aren’t there some very valid reasons why they need to bravely represent us again and again?

So why are we so angry? The privileged make a lie of the adage that hard work rewards. I work in the cultural sector and I have never been amply financially rewarded for the culture and cachet I have helped generate. I am expected to be content with facilitating the opening nights you attend to clothe yourself in unearned civility. Your response as Mayor is far from civilised. People of the political class convert the police our state tax dollars pay for into a name-tagless reactionary private security force favouring private interests above the public good. The lack of transparency in government and business sees bungle after hard-hitting bungle with no consequences for the incompetent and greedy. And now the gagging of legitimate protest. You are not listening to all the people you represent. You are not walking amongst all the people you represent.

As a proud Melburnian musician who can only make a living in Europe, I often spruik for Melbourne’s impressive cultural and social bounty. Unfortunately, what I am most frequently asked about is Australia’s reputation for venomous creatures and bigotry. Your actions will make the international press and so you’ve sadly marred your reputation, and ours, by residing in both categories.

Yours sincerely,

Samantha Wareing
Berlin, Germany and Melbourne, Australia

The picture belongs to The Age newspaper.
You can email Mayor Doyle at lordmayor@melbourne.vic.gov.au
You can email The Age letters at letters@theage.com.au
You can email the Herald Sun letters via their website.

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