Protests in solidarity with Aboriginal Australia were held yesterday outside the annual National Party conference at the Langham Hotel, on Auckland's Symonds Street. Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, was one of the conference's invited quests. Everyone was in high spirits. Many had stayed the previous night at the tent embassy , in a near by park.
Demonstrators highlighted that the National Party had invited a man from a racist government that has stolen Aboriginal land and sent troops to Iraq as a guest of honour. This shows that despite Don Brash resigning the National Party hasn't changed at all - it's still a party that represents the rich and powerful against the interests of working people and the Tangata Whenua of Aotearoa.
At 2:30pm a group of around 30-40 people picketed the conference. Placards had messages such as "Save Aboriginal children from Howard" and "Downer and John Key. Which one is the closet racist?" Maori and Aboriginal sovereignty flags were flown. Lots of passing motorists tooted and waved to show support. Some National Party members came outside in their flash suits to have a look and Prime News filmed.
We were going to have a demo at 7pm to co-incide with the start of Downer's dinner time address but it was decided the demo should be moved foward to 5:30pm in the hope it would recieve more media attention (the Downer speech was closed to the media) A group of about 15 people braved the pouring rain to provide an extremely rowdy welcome for Downer. With the help of whistles, loud hailer and shakers made from tins filled with rocks we made heaps of noise. We circled the Langham Hotel chanting "Downer, Downer we know you. You're from a racist country too", "Always was. Always will be - Aboriginal Land!" and "National, National, we know you. You have racist policies too!". A TVNZ cameraman came out and filmed us and a NZ Herald photographer took some photos. When one demonstrator started singing about how he couldn't hear what he was saying because of the ear plugs in his ears even the cops, guarding the conference, in their fluro yellow rain coats started laughing.
Lots of leaflets calling for an end to Howard's land grab in the Northern Territories and the Seabed and Foreshore Act in Aotearoa were handed out to people walking past. Even some National Party members seemed quite interested. I tried handing a leaflet to one National MP and two Nat women but they politely declined. It was quite funny they appeared to be leaving the Langham to go to an Italian restaurant across the street, just as Downer's dinner was about to start. Maybe they didn't want to pay the 90 or so dollars to enjoy dinner with a member of a racist and militaristic colonial government.
The demonstration made news headlines on ABC in Australia