Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 13 September 2007

APEC summit:

Thousands rally in Sydney despite police crackdown on civil liberties

AS THE Asia Pacific Economic Co-Operation (APEC) forum wound up in Sydney last weekend, Australian prime minister John Howard was trying to spruik (champion) its success. However, no significant decisions came out of this meeting of world capitalist leaders.

By Socialist Party reporters in Sydney and Melbourne

The summit concluded with nothing more than a statement that called for a "rapid conclusion" to the world trade liberalisation talks, known as the Doha Round. These talks have dragged on for more than six years and there is little hope that they will draw to a conclusion soon.

The two main stumbling blocks in these talks are agricultural subsidies to farmers in Europe, the US and Japan, and industrial tariffs in emerging markets like China, India and Brazil. The reason for the stalling of the Doha Round is the inter-imperialist rivalries that exist between major economies, particularly between China and the US.

The other major item on the APEC agenda was climate change. But the APEC leaders were only able to agree "in principle" on the need for action to tackle this issue. The world's two biggest polluters, China and the US, were among the nations that signed the "aspirational" goal statement to restrain the rise of greenhouse gas emissions. But while John Howard called it "a very important milestone", the reality is that this is nothing more than empty words.

'Great Wall of Sydney'

The more significant thing to come out of events surrounding APEC was the massive security operation that was staged to keep protesters away. Among other things special zones were declared that gave police extra powers to stop people entering. The state will attempt to use this operation as a precedent for other demonstrations in the future.

The entire summit was held behind a 5 kilometre security fence. The fence was dubbed the 'Great Wall of Sydney' and cut off a huge section of the Sydney commercial business district. It is estimated that $200 million was spent on the entire security operation.

The police and the government ran an intense public campaign saying that the measures were needed to keep 'violent protesters' away from the summit. In the Supreme Court last week police named several groups - including the Socialist Party - saying that these groups were planning to engage in violent activity at the APEC demonstration. This was the main reason given to refuse permission for the planned protest route.

The Socialist Party condemns the New South Wales police for linking our name to threats of violence. This was unfounded scare mongering as the only violence that occurred on the demonstration was instigated by the police.

It seems that the main threat to APEC summit did not come from 'terrorists' or 'violent protesters' but from comedians! Comedians from the popular ABC television programme, The Chasers War on Everything, have become folk heroes as they managed to breach the APEC security with nothing more than a few black hire cars, some wrap-around sunglasses and a few fake passes.

The 5,000 police officers, 1,500 army troops, 450 federal police and teams of sharp-shooters hanging out of helicopters were no match for the eleven comedians who got within 20 metres of Bush's hotel!

Socialist Party members targeted

The Socialist Party (SP) organised a convoy of buses and cars to carry people the 900 kilometres from Melbourne to Sydney for the demo.

On the way to the event an SP convoy consisting of a bus and two cars was stopped by a road block in the New South Wales (NSW) town of Tarcutta. The vehicles were diverted into a secluded truck stop where the drivers were approached by plain clothes police officers who identified themselves as 'APEC investigators'.

The search was nothing more than an attempt to intimidate SP members and hinder them from attending the demonstration. The convoy was kept for almost two and a half hours whilst drug sniffer dogs went through the vehicles and every last item of clothing was pulled out of the bags. People were also forced to undergo pat down searches.

However, SP members quickly got on the phones doing an estimated 30 media interviews during the course of the search. Several live radio interviews were done and a Channel 10 television news crew arrived within an hour.

SP members exposed the police as cracking down on civil liberties and the right to protest. The convoy also had several independent journalists on board who filmed the event and handed the footage to several other television stations. This footage was shown as a major story on the late news that night and the early news the next day.

The police later revealed in the press that SP members had been under surveillance for days before the event.

Despite the intimidation and smear campaign almost 10,000 people turned out to the main demonstration against Bush and against APEC. The demonstration was peaceful and vibrant in character. A variety of organisations mobilised for the event and the main issues that were raised was the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and climate change.

The Socialist Party linked the issues of war and environmental destruction to the need to change the capitalist system. SP members marched behind a banner that read 'Smash Capitalism - Fight for Socialism'. Hundreds of SP leaflets were handed out on the day. Many copies of The Socialist newspaper and anti-war badges were also sold.

Unfortunately only a couple of trade unions called on their members to attend the rally.

Anti-capitalist movement split

Much debate was held in the lead-up to APEC about protest tactics and how to best deal with the massive crack down on civil liberties. These debates were often heated and in the end led to a split in the anti-capitalist movement.

The night before the rally 500 mainly young people packed a Newtown Church hall for the final 'Stop the War Coalition' meeting. There were two clear points of view on offer on the night. Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) and Socialist Alternative (SA - previously linked to the British SWP) argued that the march route should stick strictly to the one approved by NSW Supreme Court that week.

They underestimated the big anger amongst Sydney residents over the 2.8 metre fence and the big impact of this Baghdad-style Green Zone on small businesses and thousands of workers who lost at least one day's pay.

The other left groups, including the SP, as well as the anarchists and the vast bulk of non-aligned people - argued that caving into the Supreme Court set a dangerous precedent for the movement. If the balance of forces was favourable, we should undertake some defiance of the anti-democratic laws introduced for APEC.

The DSP/SA lost the vote, getting about 30 votes out of over 500. After they lost the vote the DSP/SA called to put the proposal to the rally on the day. This was supported.

However, the DSP/SA simply ignored this decision the following morning, using their control of the marshals as well as the PA and stage.

They did not put the proposal to the rally and the marshals did not call for a sit down at the lines. These two groups have now been exposed as not only being the conservative elements in the movement but also for their undemocratic approach.

The Socialist Party is proud to stand in the best traditions of the anti-capitalist movement by participating in the protests against Bush and against APEC. We pledge to continue to attend and to organise similar protests in the future.

Full article available on

Website of Socialist Party Australia

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 13 September 2007:

Fighting Unions Need a New party

Postal workers: "We have the power!"

TUC conference: Standing up to Brown's attacks

Needed: a combative trade union movement

War and terrorism

Iraq: Get the troops out now

Workplace news and events

Tube workers' strike scores victory

Bosses get away with murder

Socialist Party NHS campaign

Nurses strike

Manchester cuts maternity services

Leeds - no more deficits and cuts

APEC summit

APEC summit: Thousands defy police crackdown

Socialist Party news and analysis

Overcrowded prisons, overworked staff

Keeping tabs on the millions?

A life of debt and poverty?

Socialist Party feature

Tory party struggles to recapture territory taken by New Labour

International news and analysis

Impressions of China

Socialist Party review

Robert Blincoe - a life that illuminates an age


Home   |   The Socialist 13 September 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleIrish capitalist state: rotten to the core

triangleOrgreave campaigners' Halloween 'Death of Justice' march

triangleThe "club no-one wants to be part of" - march by families of those killed in police custody

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison


triangleTories 'Prevent' civil liberties

triangleBlock Osborne's Billionaire Budget

triangleFight the snoopers' charter!

triangleHow can civil liberties be protected?


triangleWhy I joined the Socialist Party: "I started to question whether there was a better way"

triangle'Paradise' for billionaires - austerity for us

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee



Unite protest against blacklisting


Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain



Arriva bus strikers stand firm



BT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes



Driving examiners walkout hits first day of new test



School staff strike against privatisation



Brutal rail privateer Abellio takes over Midlands rail services



PCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference


North Yorkshire

Court maintains injunction against fracking protesters


Waltham Forest

Waltham Forest Universal Credit protest



Coventry Socialist sales hit 1,000



TUSC conference to debate 2018 elections



Liverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students



Plans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the full 5% claim

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

triangle30 Nov Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

More ...

triangle12 Dec Birmingham South East Socialist Party: Can the Labour Party be changed?

triangle12 Dec Liverpool Socialist Party: Fighting council cuts

triangle13 Dec Caerphilly Socialist Party: Are we heading for an era of war?

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice