Demand Free Speech in Brisbane CBD!
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Queen Street Mall in Brisbane's CBD is public space, and yet the Brisbane City Council has a new set of laws (Public Land and Council Assets Local Law 2014) that grant council officers to power to issue massive fines against a series of activities in the mall, including targeting peaceful protest. Additionally, the use of King George Square for not-for-profit community activities are sidelined in favour of commercial activities. Over the years, corporate interests have taken precedence over public use of spaces, where commercial vendors are given the right to sell and promote products, while everyday citizens have fewer and fewer avenues to collectively organise.
Last year, a member of the Refugee Action Collective received a $630 fine from the Brisbane City Council for using a megaphone in the mall to facilitate a rally for freedom for asylum seekers on Manus Island. Another member of the Refugee Action Collective was ushered out of Queen st mall for silently holding up a placard in the vicinity.
On multiple occasions, different groups have been denied the right to peacefully assemble in King George Square, in some instances because a commercial vendor was operating somewhere in the space even when there is ample space to accommodate multiple activities, and in other instances because the booking had been made too far in advance, which may have prevented for-profit activities taking place.
We, the undersigned, demand:
- the immediate repeal of the Public Land and Council Assets Local Law 2014
- Queen Street Mall be freely available for community activities, including for peaceful assemblies and marches
- the removal of the onerous booking system currently required for peaceful assemblies, and give community and not-for-profit organisations precedence over commercial operations to book venues
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