Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

May 31st 2006
Signs of the times

On Saturday, I was sitting in a suburban train travelling from Spencer St Station, Melbourne to Upper Fern Tree Gully. While taking in the 'sights' I noticed a young man sitting in front of me looking at the walls covered with graffiti. He made the comment, "And the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls." These words are of course from the old Simon & Garfunkle song 'Sounds of Silence' - the point being that graffitti is the art form of a silenced people.

All of this brings me to a radio interview I did for 4TO last week where Dave Harrison quizzed me about the graffiti, 'Townsville: Terrific or Toxic', which was the topic of public discussion and featured on the local news. While not involved with this action, I certainly endorse those sentiments and the people who created them. Why?

Well, it seems to me that it's all right for people to scribble anything about the Cowboys everywhere and that is considered ok and it is. However, when people talk about an issue that will affect people for generations to come, then it is not ok for free speech to be exercised. It is a sign of the times that people who were outraged at this action, probably thought it was ok to protest against the war in Vietnam and are supporters of the union movement, which as we know was originally outlawed for similar illegal actions. I believe this graffiti captured the ethos of the protest against the alumina refinery and as such represents the silenced voices of those who would resist having our future health and well being determined in the board rooms of big business.

Dedicated to breaking that silence, the Alumina Refinery Forum this Saturday at the Wulguru Community Centre (1.30pm), will feature a range of speakers including: Kirsty Ruddock from the Environmental Defenders Office (Cairns) on the EPA ; Rosemary Menkens (National Party MP for Burdekin); Steve McGuire (Clean Air for Kids); James McLellan (North Queensland Conservation Council); John Boucher (T'ville Greens).

And of course, myself. The forum will be conducted by an independent chairperson, Bill Pierce. Letters of invitation have been sent to Townsville Mayor Tony Mooney, Cr Les Walker, Lindy Nelson Carr MP, Mike Reynolds MP and Townsville Enterprise CEO, Glenys Schuntner.

So come along and let your voice be heard.

Jenny Stirling
Co-convenor, Townsville Greens

For readers who were unable to open the link to the ABC Four Corners program on the effects of a West Australian Alumina refinery, "Something in the air" (click here) Ed.

Signs of the times
Peter Francis Hughes
June 1st 2006
I believe graffitti is a type of cancer on our society. Many councils are spending considerable amounts in attempting to clean it up. Legislators in Victoria are still trying to find a way to persuade these 'artists' to knock it off.
The first thing you notice as you approach metropolitan Melbourne is the graffitti on every available piece of vacant wall, building or roof.
It is nice to return to the bush and just see trees, something like what attracted me to Magnetic, years ago.
Make no mistake, graffitti is illegal, ugly and should be dealt with by the courts. There are more appropriate ways to express oneself.
Peter F. Hughes
Waurn Ponds, Vic
jenny stirling
June 1st 2006
I am glad that you enjoy the wonders of Magnetic Island and I am sure you have supported efforts made to preserve it.

I am sympathetic to your views about graffitti in Melbourne. The view out of the train in window was not pretty, although I did see many other beautiful sights.

However, I stand by what I said about graffitti being the voice of the oppressed.

I am reminded here of the sign of the fish which was carved and painted on the walls of ancient Rome by Christians being oppressed by the power of the state.

Then as now, the graffitti was denounced as being subversive.

It is said that the victors write the offical accounts of history.

I hope I am writing the offical history of this protest when I say that in the context of this protest, this action has a higher purpose.

Therefore, it warrants an exception from the normal rules, as indeed exceptions were made for successful protests against injustices of previous eras.

What do you think? Send us your comments.

Readers comments
Syl Hayes In reply to Fair raises $15,000 for school
What a wonderful outcome for the school! I had a great time face-painting with Luke and Sasha, met lots of kids and parents,scored some great books at the Trash n Treasure stall, and even remembered to vote. Everywhere you looked people were enjoying themselves...such a tribute to the organisers. Well done!
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