8 min read

Woodford security guard assault, a love letter to Christmas beetles, tiny house regulations, Greens campaign musings + more

Don’t the years flow by?

It might be hard to believe, but we are now a quarter of the way into the 21st century.

Almost one third of Australia’s current population was born after the World Trade Centre attacks of 11 September, 2001, and has no direct memory of the world before the so-called War on Terror (and the associated expansion of mass surveillance).

The climate crisis is accelerating, disputes over land and resources are fuelling war and genocide, and I still can’t afford to buy a house in the city I call home.

Increasingly, it feels like the pathways for positive change that many well-intentioned people in society have been pursuing – signing petitions, lobbying politicians, pushing for minor internal policy reforms within their organisations – are largely ineffective in isolation, and in some cases an unhelpful distraction. But perhaps if we can combine many different tactics and advocacy pathways into a broader, multi-faceted strategic approach, bigger changes might be possible?

Systemic transformation is certainly long overdue.

On a more positive note, my partner and I are looking forward to heading off in our campervan for a few months for a long-awaited holiday/writing retreat. While we travel, we’re hoping to interview other activists and community organisers in different towns to learn more about how people are pushing for systemic change (yes I know, it’s an odd kind of holiday if you’re still writing and recording radio interviews while you go, but we can’t help ourselves). If you know of someone cool who lives along the Queensland coast who you think we should try to interview and connect with, let me know! (And please forgive me if I'm not as responsive to emails while we're on the road)

Below you can find a list of articles I’ve published in the past few weeks, plus a short poem I wrote last year after visiting my father’s village in northern Sri Lanka for the first time.

If you have the time, I also encourage you to watch or listen to this discussion I recorded between First Nations activists Boe Spearim and Aunty Mary Graham at the Palestine solidarity workshop day organised by Brisbane Free University a few weeks ago.

Below this list of articles, you can also find shorter commentary/news on a few other emerging local issues, plus upcoming events/protests that I hope you can join me at...

Recent publications

Woodford Folk Festival physically assaulted me for protesting about Palestine... What’s the future of events like this?
Are counter-cultural folk festivals helping create a better world, or quietly stifling rebellion?

^ This piece about being assaulted by a security guard at one of my favourite festivals took a lot of courage to write. If you'd like to read more commentary and reflections on Woodford and the future of festivals, let me know.

Could Brisbane bring back Christmas beetle swarms?
Beetles don’t give a toss about property boundaries or surveillance cameras
Does Brisbane City Council allow people to live in tiny houses on wheels (and could this change)?
Short answer: Yes (and yes), but there are some important caveats to keep in mind
Should the Greens just focus on retaining existing seats, or winning more?
We can’t allow fear of losing to justify stagnation
The Return
(A short poem - audio and written)

I've just added an audio reading of The Return. If you like that poem, you should also check out the audio story Tea Leaves and Troublemakers that I published in early May.

And for those who haven't found time to read the longer reflective piece about life on a houseboat that I published a month ago, I've also added a 22-minute audio narration to it, so give it a listen if you like.

Living on our off-grid houseboat makes us more connected, not less
The world looks a little different from the other side of the mangroves

Upcoming events

Protest at federal Labor MP's office

Friday, 21 June, 3pm at 38 Wembley Rd, Logan Central (the office is next to the Hungry Jacks)
Tomorrow arvo, I'm driving out to Logan to join the Justice for Palestine protest outside the office of federal Labor government Treasurer Jim Chalmers. He is one of the most powerful politicians in the country, and protesting outside his office on a weekday seems like one of the most effective ways of pressuring him to take a stronger position against the genocide in Gaza.
Facebook event and more details at this link

Saturday morning protest for refugee rights

Saturday, 22 June 11am at Reddacliff Place/Brisbane Square, 266 George St, Brisbane CBD
The federal government is still trying to push through a bill that will allow them to imprison refugees who refuse to consent to being deported to their country of origin. This is despicable, draconian legislation that needs to be strongly resisted. Please join me at this protest.
Facebook event and more details here

My hip-hop band Rivermouth is playing at the Northey Street Winter Solstice Festival!

Saturday, 22 June, 5:30pm at 16 Victoria Street, Windsor
Northey Street City Farm's Winter Solstice Festival is coming up this weekend. It starts in the late morning and runs into the evening. My spoken word/hip-hop band Rivermouth will be performing an early evening show at 5:30pm.

There are some amazing workshops and talks planned throughout the afternoon as well as a solid lineup of bands and performing artists. You can read more info and find tickets for the event at this link. Please also share the Facebook event with friends.

Catch my poetry at the Palestine fundraiser this Sunday

Sunday, 23 June, 11am to 5:30pm at Echo & Bounce, 596 Stanley St, Woolloongabba
There's a community fundraiser this Sunday in Woolloongabba raising money for Palestinian families who are escaping from Gaza and settling in Queensland. I'll be performing ten minutes of poetry at around 2:30 or 3pm. The event has a great line-up of speakers, poets and DJs.
More details and raffle tickets at this link

Rivermouth show at Newmarket

Saturday, 6 July 7:30pm to 10:30pm at 92 Enoggera Rd, Newmarket
My band Rivermouth is playing a fundraiser gig for the Pine Rivers Greens at the Newmarket Memorial Hall, supported by Plain Jane and Clover Love. The line-up showcases various genres including hip-hop, folk and punk.

Tickets are pay-what-you-can-afford, starting at $10. This is an alcohol-free, all-ages event (teenage hip-hop fans welcome). So if you're the kind of person who likes live music and feels more comfortable in a community hall than in a boozey bar, this is the show for you. This will be my band's last gig in Brissie for several months, so if you want to catch some of my poetry and music before I head off in the campervan, grab a ticket before they sell out...
Tickets and further details at this link

Other stuff

  • The phenomenal amount of money that governments spend on roads never seems to attract as much public scrutiny or criticism as it probably should. Designs have just been released for yet another Bruce Highway upgrade around Murrumba Downs (the Premier's electorate). This one project is costing a phenomenal $290 million. Among other things, it looks likely to clear a lot of trees in order to make room for additional lanes on the highway. We know road-widening projects like this don't fix congestion – they make it worse.
  • It didn't get much coverage, but the Quensland budget confirmed that expenditure on 'Police and Community Safety' has now hit a record $4.379 billion per year. That's four thousand million dollars on cops in Queensland every single year. The so-called youth crime wave might be largely a media-driven moral panic, but the amount of money that's being wasted on it is very real.
  • Those with an interest in local active transport connectivity on Brissie's inner-south side might like to check out this short live video I filmed about South Bank's proposed redesign of Grey Street and this video about the new Storey Bridge underpass in Kangaroo Point.
  • In what I consider to be a partial win for the Greens and a direct response to the growth of our vote in the recent city council election campaign, Brisbane's LNP mayor recently announced tighter restrictions on Airbnb investment properties, including a requirement for a 24/7 property manager and body corporate support for Airbnbs in apartments. I suspect there are several hundred – if not over a thousand – Airbnbs currently operating in Brisbane that won't technically comply with these new regulations, but unless people complain to the council, they probably won't be found. So if you know of a home that could be rented out to a local family but is currently being used for Airbnb on an ongoing basis, I encourage you to report it to the council by calling 3403 8888.
  • I know I suggested above that contacting MPs to politely ask for change rarely works as an isolated tactic, but when those MPs are also feeling significant direct electoral pressure on an issue, it can be another matter. Recently the government announced it would soon introduce 50 cent public transport fares, but the trial only lasts for 6 months, ending just before the start of the first semester of uni in 2025. Given that the government is nervous about losing votes to the Greens, I think some additional pressure on Transport Minister Bart Mellish and other Labor MPs in the lead-up to the coming state election could make a concrete difference in getting this trial extended. If you'd like to see public transport become free, or at least for the fares to remain at 50 cents for longer than six months, now would be a good time to email the Minister at transportandmainroads@ministerial.qld.gov.au or to contact your MP if you live in a Labor/Liberal electorate (Greens MPs are obviously already on board).

Help me reach more people

If you like my writing and want it to reach more readers, please consider forwarding this email to interested friends, or sharing your favourite articles on social media. And of course, if you're currently on a free subscription and can afford to upgrade to being a paid member, I would be so so so grateful for the support.

Thanks so much to my existing financial patrons whose generosity helps me find the time to keep writing!

And thanks everyone for reading! Time to get back to working on my next article. Hopefully I'll see you at a gig or protest sometime soon.

Warm regards,