Melbourne City Council harassing peaceful political activity on city streets

Media Release 2 June 2013: The Wednesday Action Group was formed in 1999 to raise important social and political issues on the streets of Melbourne's CBD. Every Wednesday, over the last 14 years, we have legally assembled on the footpath collecting signatures on petitions that we have presented to the House of Representatives and the Senate in the Federal Parliament and the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council in the Victorian Parliament.

Over the years we have collected thousands of names, addresses and signatures on various petitions relating to important political issues of the day. Currently we are collecting signatures on six petitions.

A petition to the Victorian Legislative Assembly and the Victorian Legislative Council calling for a Royal Commission into Corruption in Victoria.

A petition to the Federal House of Representatives and the Senate calling for the establishment of a New People's Bank.

A petition to the Federal House of Representatives and the Senate calling for the introduction of a 1% Stock Market Turnover tax on transactions of over $10,000.

Over the years countless hours and millions of dollars of public money has been spent trying to stop us exercising our constitutional rights to use the streets to petition Parliament. During the last three months the Melbourne City Council has regularly been using its bylaws officers to try to force us off the streets claiming we need a Melbourne City Council permit to set up the card table that houses the petitions. Police have been called on every occasion. Two weeks ago 14 police were despatched at the request of Melbourne City Council bylaws officers to try to force us to remove the card table which holds the petitions.

Unlike Occupy Melbourne, we are not a flash in the pan. We have legally and peacefully exercised our constitutional rights for the last 14 years and will continue to do so irrespective of Melbourne City Council and Melbourne business harassment. The waste of thousands of hours of police time and millions of dollars of public money that has occurred over this issue is unacceptable.

Allowing the Melbourne City Council to decide how political activity should be conducted on the streets of Melbourne is totally unacceptable. To apply for a permit to set up a card table gives a faceless bureaucracy the power to curtail legal legitimate political activity. It gives Councils, State governments and the Federal government the power to determine what is and isn't peaceful legitimate political activity.

There are more than enough laws at the local, state and federal level to regulate political activity in this country. We encourage you to join us outside Melbourne Town Hall at 11:30am on Wednesday 5th June to witness our continuing struggle to exercise our constitutional rights. What may at first seem like a trivial insignificant issue has ramifications for every Australian that goes far beyond whether we need a Melbourne City Council permit to set up a card table to collect signatures for a petition.

Dr. Joseph TOSCANO / Convenor Wednesday Action Group
Steering Committee: Bobbie Burns, Jack Collins, Mick Doran, Simic Juric, Ruth Martin, Beth Matthews, John Murray, Bill Pickering, Jude Pierce, Peter Riley, Rick Simpson, Vasil Tilev, John Zabane

The Wednesday Action Group was established in 1999 to take issues that directly affect us as individuals, communities and the nation, directly to the people on the streets. The group is a coalition of concerned reformers, radicals and conservatives who believe the current social, cultural, political and economic needs of the people of this country cannot be met by the economic, legal and political institutions that currently dominate life in Australia.

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