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“You don’t understand what it was like, man” says 56-year-old Turin Ambleside.
“It was like, a full-on dictatorship, man”
With police charging 56 people over climate change protests that have caused major traffic disruptions in Brisbane’s CBD today, this fading old radical is beginning to reminisce.
“Those cops were basically gestapo, man” said Turin, who now runs an anarchist bookshop and an anarchist community radio show, out of suburb not traditionally aligned with his political beliefs because West End and Spring Hill is too expensive nowadays.
As a straight white man with a tertiary education that cost him nothing, it is hard to envision what it was exactly that Turin used to spend so much time protesting against – especially given his tendency to label prominent Aboriginal activists and left-wing politicians as ‘sell outs’ – which suggests he made a pretty ordinary ally on the frontline.
But as Turin points out, back in the eighties, when he was an arts student at UQ living in a squat in South Bank, it was everyone against Joh.
Turin is of course referring to Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the longest-serving State Premier in Queensland history – who was well-known for basically having the exact same political beliefs as most of the National Party politicians in 2019.
“Yeah, but the difference was that he actually had power. Not like these old drunks nowadays” says Turin.
Turin says it’s important for today’s protestors to remember those who came before them, and what they went through to pave the way for protesting in Brisbane. Namely the tear gas and phone-book hidings he took from Joh’s cops.
That’s why he’s organising an upcoming art show in West End, dedicated solely to ‘the Sir Joh era’ and how bad things truly were – a unique idea that has only been emulated 12,000 times before in the exact same suburb.
“I’ll never forgive him for what he did in Cedar Bay, man. That was Australia’s Waco, man”