Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Cairns Councillor in Court this Friday

There will be a rally at the Cairns Courthouse at 9am this Friday, to show public support for Councillor Di Forsyth and her actions to preserve the historic Cairns Yacht Club building.

She will appear in the Magistrate’s Court to answer a charge of trespass, arising out of an act of civil disobedience while advocating for the preservation of the Cairns Yacht Club.

On Monday 13th October last year, Councillor Forsyth took part in a non-violent protest action, as a last ditch stand to focus public attention on a worthy desire by over 10,000 Cairns residents.

With a safety team, safety harness and rope, hardhat, boots and overalls, at around 7.00 am Councillor Forsyth climbed a ladder and sat on a platform on the roof of the building to temporarily prevent its demolition. She carried a sign saying that she represented 11,000 Queensland Citizens (9,000 Cairns residents), and wore a shirt saying “People Before Profit”.

Di Forsyth demonstrated the courage of her convictions when she climbed up on that roof. It was difficult, and contained elements of danger. By making responsible safety arrangements, Di minimised the danger to herself, and through her cooperation with Queensland Police she eliminated it altogether for others. It was a responsible action of personal protest.

But it was also an action whereby Councillor Forsyth met her public duty to her constituents, and to the residents of Cairns, to make a powerful representation to the government of Queensland and its voting public.

Cairns Regional Council had resolved twice in 2008 to seek the building’s preservation, and to engage in consultative processes with the Queensland government and/or its authorities. Cairns Regional Council made these resolutions at the request of thousands of residents and ratepayers. Cairns Regional Council recognised a petition of 11,000 signatures which had been lodged in the Queensland Parliament.

In reply the Queensland government failed to respond appropriately. Legally the Queensland government has the power to build and develop whatever it wants in Cairns without the permission of the Cairns Regional Council. Its developments don’t have to abide by or accord with local government planning. There is regular community debate around these issues, with local residents seeking a more persuasive voice about local developments.

POLITICAL PURPOSE

Cairns Regional Council is perhaps the most readily available tool of government for Cairns residents. But it is not the only one. When the Queensland government failed to publicly engage the Cairns Regional Council, Cairns citizens were forced to directly address the Queensland government, communicating politically with the Premier and Cabinet, and also with citizens and voters around the state.

Non-violent Civil Disobedience by an elected Councillor in relation to a development issue was always going to be state-wide news. “I’m representing 11,000 people” and “people before profit” are key elements of democratic and sustainable development. People are entitled to see them applied by government, and people are entitled to contest any government that fails to apply them.

Councillor Forsyth was approached by many Cairns citizens and asked to take protest action. At first she attended public meetings and rallies, and used her position as a councillor in strictly conventional ways. When this approach was disrespected Di Forsyth took the minimum action required of civil disobedience, and took it in a way which was fully accountable.

By standing up for her constituents, at her constituents’ request, Councillor Di Forsyth honourably discharged her public duties, and she won substantial public support her doing so.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

However the nature of civil disobedience involves the breaking of a law. It is a rule of civil disobedience that an activist who breaks the law stands accountable to the Courts, and gladly accepts and pays any penalty a court may impose.

So Councillor Forsyth will face the Cairns Magistrate to a charge of trespass at 4 Wharf St Cairns on 13 October 2008, and will be dealt with for it. The hearing will be next Friday 27 February 2009 at Cairns Courthouse. This is the fair and due process of punishment that Councillor Di Forsyth faces in our criminal justice system. Our system of government depends on the rule of law.

Under our law, Councillor Forsyth cannot be disqualified or suspended as a member of the Cairns Regional Council for a minor, summary offence such as trespass. Just as Senator Bob Brown and Senator Christine Milne remain Senators irrespective of their convictions for civil disobedience.

Indeed the legal system adopted in Australia recognises civil disobedience as a special category of offence.

The following quote is from British Law Lord, Lord Hoffman, in a 2006 ruling by the House of Lords in relation to civil disobedience cases then undergoing trial. (Lord Hoffman, at para 89 in Jones, R. v [2006] UKHL 16 (29 March 2006)

Cite as: [2006] 2 Cr App R 9, [2007] 1 AC 136, [2006] UKHL 16, [2006] 2 All ER 741):

  • “ My Lords, civil disobedience on conscientious grounds has a long and honourable history in this country. People who break the law to affirm their belief in the injustice of a law or government action are sometimes vindicated by history. The suffragettes are an example which comes immediately to mind.

    It is the mark of a civilised community that it can accommodate protests and demonstrations of this kind. But there are conventions which are generally accepted by the law-breakers on one side and the law-enforcers on the other. The protesters behave with a sense of proportion and do not cause excessive damage or inconvenience. And they vouch the sincerity of their beliefs by accepting the penalties imposed by the law.

    The police and prosecutors, on the other hand, behave with restraint and the magistrates impose sentences which take the conscientious motives of the protesters into account. The conditional discharges ordered by the magistrates in the cases which came before them exemplifies their sensitivity to these conventions."

The conventions alluded to by Lord Hoffman were accepted and applied in Cairns by all the activists, police, prosecutors and magistrates connected with civil disobedience cases around the Cairns yacht Club. Councillor Forsyth is the last case to be dealt with. Every other activist received either a good behaviour bond with no conviction recorded, or a small fine subsequently converted to community service.

SUPPORT COUNCILLOR DI FORSYTH

If you’re one of the many citizens in Cairns who sought the preservation of the Cairns Yacht Club, and who supported and were encouraged by Di Forsyth’s forthright action, there are three things you can do now to support her:

  • 1 / Attend a rally at the Cairns Courthouse at 9.00 am this Friday 27 February to show public support
  • 2/ Write a letter of support addressed “To Whom It May Concern” setting out your approval of Councillor Forsyth’s character and civil disobedience action, for submission to the Magistrate on 27 February.

    Send it immediately to Councillor Di Forsyth, 114 Woodward St, Edge Hill, Cairns, Queensland 4870. You can also email it.

13 comments:

JKR said...

Done. As I said to you recently Mike regardless of what you actually thought about the Yacht Club (and I for one was indifferent), the fact that 11,000 people felt strongly enough to put pen to paper is reason enough for me to fight for it.

The State Government didnt just let the people down, they were tricky and underhanded about it at the same time.

I do not agree with Councillor Forsyth's politics, but the fact is that when she got up on that roof she represented her people to the best of her ability. She did us proud, and now it is time to support her.

Quickie said...

Desperate Di broke the law of trespass ... simple as that.
Cool calm and collected, she deliberately flaunted herself in front of the police and the cameras and said ...
"what ya going to do about it."
So, she got arrested.
She should go to jail.
She was a deliberate law breaker and should pay the price.
Along with the robbers, rapists, murderers and pedophiles.
They plan and act deliberately as well.
Come on Noel Briggs - show some fortitude and sack her !!!

Luke P said...

Watch out Quickie. The BORG cube is coming to assimilate YOU.

Tyson said...

Mike,

It seems we have a case of hypocrisy.

Now, we all know the story of Di on top of the Yacht Club, and at first, I was all for it.

However, today I watched Desley's new YouTube video (she seems to be going for a horror theme - she has a corpse with a perm speaking) and I noticed a certain Councillor Di Forsyth giving a gleeming endorsement of how "approachable and keen to listen" Desley apparently is.

Maybe Di thought she was talking about a different Desley? Certainly not the one we know and.. well...

I do have to ask, and I would ask for everyone's views here - did Di Forsyth pull that stunt just for her own political gain?

Certainly leaves me wondering, how she can do something like that and then quite promptly turn around and say that the very member she was protesting against is so very keen to listen to the people of Cairns...

Isn't this just the way the Labor Party works?

Over to you...

Quickie said...

WTF! is the "BORG CUBE" ???
Does it play tennis?

Brian, Kewarra said...

Well, you've proven what an uninformed idiot you are Quickie.

Forsyth broke the law, yes. But her "crime" isn't on par with the other law breakers you cite.

Her penality will be nothing more than a small fine or a good behaviour bond with no conviction recorded. You seem to be in la la land.

Briggs also has no power whatsoever in dismissing a Councillor.

If you really are the re-incarnated "Factman" you are letting your side down mate.

KitchenSlut said...

Good call Tyson!

I back Councillor Forsayth or any other councillor confronted with such bureaucratic stupidities on their activities at Council? However the ultimate jurisdiction for local guvmint resides with the state guvmint which has been absent and negligent on all counts?

Desley Boyle on the other hand,as a miinister, is the closest thing to a dead fruitbat I have ever encountered?

NotThe Chaser said...

After supporting Labor over a number of years, to say I am deeply disappointed in their performance on virtually every issue over the last few years would an understatement.
Quickie, giving you some credit for a modicum of intelligence,I believe that now you must realise it is extreme and stupid to equate climbing a ladder and sitting on a roof inappropriately, as being on the same scale as being a murderer or paedophile etc.,especially as there is so much of the latter occurring with pathetic responses from the Judiciary.
Having said that, I do believe all the belated (by several months) stunts and statements by the current council and members at the time were structured to show serious concern, whilst at the same time allowing the destruction of the Yacht Club to happen and retain face - "At least we tried!"
That's the cynic in me.

Bryan Law said...

Tyson, you scally-wag. It’s not very hard to understand really.

In 2008, and for five years before, Di Forsyth was one of those who used the Yacht Club as a Jazz Club member, who danced and sang and had good times in the darling old building. As a citizen first, and then as Councillor, Di used all the proper channels to secure a decent outcome, and she failed because of what I would call some very bad names coming out of the ALP Queensland government.

As the conventional campaign failed and the direct action program began, Di Forsyth made a genuine decision to put maximum pressure on that government, and she contended on behalf of her constituents with great skill, vigour and dedication. I know, ‘cos I was there to see it. I spent time in the watch-house with Di.

Now some of us, myself and Wendy Richardson included, take the Yacht Club issue seriously enough to be willing to overtly arsehole Desley Boyle, and the other Labor goons, at the opportunity of this election. Di Forsyth doesn’t go that far. She honestly believes that a Labor government will produce better and fairer government than the LNP, or the Greens. After all she’s been a Labor member most of her adult life.

I for one am grateful for Di’s efforts in getting up on that roof and having a go. I haven’t noticed you doing the same. I think Di is a doing a good job as Divisional Councillor.

Now you want Di to do the dirty job for you on Anna Blah and Mike Kaiser. I say be grateful for what you’ve got, and get your own hands dirty if you want revenge on whoever. Di alone won’t make the difference in this election campaign. Help mobilise the hundreds that are needed to shift votes, if that’s what you want to do.

Bryan Law said...

Quickie, the BORG CUBE is an ICE CUBE without any cool.

Quickie said...

Brain dead of Kewarra, I used the comparison of deliberately planned when comparing crimes, not the crimes themselves.
So when Brian Law decides to deliberately sit on your front veranda after being warned of the trespass nature of his act, are you going to pour him a beer or call the cops?
As for a re-incarnated "Factman", who the hell is that?
I am Quickie, short and sweet, quick and decisive, (sometimes my girlfriend says premature!), defender of Gen Y.
You are brain dead of Kewarra.

Steven Nowakowski said...

Di,
I can't be at the Courthouse tomorrow morning to support you but all the best. I think whether you believe Di did the right thing or not she has to be congratulated for standing up for her constituents. If only other elected members could learn something from Di we would have a better society.
Go Di.!

Hieronymus Bosch said...

I've met Di a few times and she comes across as genuinely nice, unlike the sackless 8th and 9th dwarves Blake and Briggs (Sneaky Dwarf and Grossly Overpaidly Dwarf?).

I probably don't agree with much of her politics but I respect that she stood up and had a go. It would be sad if she lost her job over this.

Good luck tomorrow Di!