The right to peacefully protest the actions of governments is one of the important features of our democracy and free speech. However, the key word here is “peaceful”, it is most often protests from those on the left that disrupt other events, threaten the safety of other citizens, and violate private property rights and often waste public money when authorities try to restore order to out of control events. These types of protests by the left often have another effect on the Australian political scene. The coverage the mainstream media gives them which is often very positive, despite the amount of chaos, gives the illusion to our politicians that they are representative of the majority of Australians. Normally, ordinary Australians or the silent majority are too busy working and being productive to protest at all.
The protests at Parliament House over the past two days by a group calling themselves the Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance, who shut down Question Time on Wednesday in the House of Representatives, demanded the closure of Australia’s detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island. The refused to leave when asked and superglued themselves to the public gallery and screamed when security eventually had to physically remove them. They returned again on Thursday by abseiling down the front of Parliament House unveiling a banner stating ‘Close the Bloody Camps Now’.
The Greens thought this disruption of the operation of our democratic institutions was perfectly acceptable, with Greens leader Richard Di Natalie embracing the protesters by stating “We want to thank you for all that you have done for those poor helpless people”. However the major parties, despite some MPs in the Labor party being sympathetic, were not impressed by this stunt. They passed through legislation yesterday upgrading security at Parliament House and fencing off the lawn at the front which would have prevented the abseiling stunt.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has even said they might look at having glass barriers in the public gallery to prevent future disruptions. These protests could have the effect of undermining public access to our democracy which would be a great loss to many ordinary Australians who come to witness parliament in action and do the right thing.
However it looks as if the protesters will not be deterred given the attention that has been given to their stunt by the mainstream media. But it should be noted that their point of view is in the minority, as shown by the results of the 2013 federal election when the Australian people rejected the Labor government’s mismanagement of our borders and elected the Abbott Coalition which one of its key policies was ‘stop the boats’, and the Liberal party was re-elected again this year. This result is also backed up by polling showing the majority of Australians support offshore processing and boat turn backs.
It would appear that the ballot box is the only way the majority of Australians can make their voices heard. The reason for this is not just that left seem to have the time and resources to hold protests on what seems to be an almost weekly basis, but those on the right are too scared to hold their own protests or even their own private events because the left will turn up and hold a counter rally and threaten violence, demanding an increased security and police presence.
That was also demonstrated this week when an event in Melbourne featuring One Nation Senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts hosted by the Independent Jewish Council to discuss issues with Islam was cancelled due to security concerns over the fact that there would be left wing agitators attempting to disrupt the event. Again, this intimidation by the left is out of step with the opinions of a large amount of Australians with 49% favouring a ban on Muslim immigration. Unfortunately on this issue the voters of Australia don’t have much of a choice at the ballot box with both major parties supporting continued Islamic immigration, showing the effect these loud left wing voices have on the will of the people.
The ballot box however is still very powerful: 2016 has proven it with the triumph of Brexit, the return of Pauline Hanson to the Australian Parliament and of course the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. However, those on the right should not be intimidated into not making their voices heard in the public debate. The great conservative leader Barry Goldwater talking about the importance of conservative voices being heard, once said ‘This country, and its majesty, is too great for any man, be he conservative or liberal, to stay home and not work just because he doesn’t agree’.
The defeat of Julia Gillard’s carbon tax can be partly put down to the successful protests and activism carried out by those on the right which helped influence enough of our politicians to oppose such a policy and have it eventually repealed. Our vote is still powerful, but so is our voice every day and we should not be afraid to take a stand and not let the left dominate public discourse and bully us into silence. The silent majority needs to start making some noise and take back this country’s destiny.