Apparently the gallery for the public is not very large, and was standing room only by the time I arrived. Being not very confident that much would come from talking to the council, I was only to happy to stand on the street corner outside the council building holding signs and having a little demo.
Was this the first ever demonstration in front of Sorell Council Chambers? None of the locals was able to recall another such event.
Early spring darkness, single figure temperatures and a light drizzle did not to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd that stood and held up signs. As always this demonstration was light and fun and full of chatting and jokes and fun. These feeling of fun and lightness, of being with others is what Lenin meant when he spoke of the 'joy of the festival of the oppressed.' Too often we are made to feel isolated and impotent in our dealings with the various levels of governments and seemingly untouchable large corporations. While not being able to stop the dump by itself this small demonstration allowed us to feel something of the strength that well organised, committed community.
Holding up signs that read 'Honk to Dump the Dump', every honk of the cars and trucks, windshield wipers slapping time, that drove past was met with rousing cheers and laughter. Not ever car that passed beeped, but enough did so that the cold and dark and drizzle could not put an end to the protest. Many of the crowd dressed in white hazardous material outfits, to draw attention to the dangers of the Carlton River Dump.
As I said I was not actually at the Council meeting, and this is second hand information. But as it seems balanced, and I heard similar comments from other people who attended I am happy, until the minutes are published, to assume that this description of the meeting is, in the main, a true account of what happened.
At the meeting of the Sorell Council differences of opinion were brought to the fore, with one councillor saying they had voted against the position, and had the foresight to see the reaction and the community opposition. Another member said that they regretted their vote and expressed concern that there was not enough time to fully understand the issues. Happily the council saw that they did not handle community consultation properly. While directly caused by this dump issue, it is good to see that the Sorell Council is organising a series of 'community consultations' starting this Thursday Sept 20 at the Midway Point Community Centre.
But in the end, according to locals who were in the chambers, it seems the council will not rethink their position and are holding the position that, once the permit has been issued their is nothing that can be done. Surely this is a sad position for a democratically elected council to hold.
During the Pelopensian War the city of Mytilene attempted to leave the Athenian Empire and unify all of the island of Lesbos under Mytilenean control. Scorning the attempts of the delegation to reach a negotiated peace, the Athenian Assembly voted for punishment, to kill all the males in the city. After a good night's sleep the people of Athens recalled the assembly and voted to overturn this brutal edict. If in the midst of a seemingly endless war, a devastating plague, the collapse of the rural economy, if in the middle of an existential crisis of this sort, democracy can right it's wrongs, surely the Sorell Council can overturn this dump, or at least allow the permits to lapse. Seeing how the council helped set up Southern Waste Services, and therefore by extension the rate payers of Sorell Council are part owners of the company.
Until then the locals must organise themselves using both science and rhetoric, as well as their own talent, commitment and resources to fight against this toxic proposal.