by graeme dunstan Wednesday December 07, 2005 at 12:52 AM
Sedition Sunday! has taken it’s place as a new radical event on the Eureka weekend. We came. We saw. We seditioned.
Sedition Sunday was a day in the park with friends. The people’s park that is, Eureka park, Ballarat, at the Eureka Memorial on the 151st anniversary of the Eureka rebellion.
A new event in the City of Ballarat Eureka commemoration, it attracted about 60 participants at any one time, and maybe 100 over the day, including two mini bus loads (16 each)courtesy the City of Yarra plus a 5 or 6 who came by rail from Melbourne for the day.
The crowd was remarkable for its mix of age, gender and race. It was a younger crowd that the Diggers’ Walk, with more adolescents, and more 30 something year olds and their young children. Women speakers were prominent and feisty, and two local Aboriginals, a busload of Vietnamese plus a Ghanian who took the mike and acted as a BBC interviewer, added to the colour.
That part of Eureka Park between the old Memorial and the car park by the Hall was splendidly dressed with banners to create a focus. A single mike, battery operated PA with speakers mounted on the roof racks of Happy Wheels was used by the various speakers. A soap box was also provided.
As master of ceremonies I declared the occasion open mike; that is anyone could speak but no one could speak twice before anyone who so wanted had spoken once. We also had provision for a claxton to wind up the boring and an agreement to cheer on the interesting and draw more forth from them.
Between 11 am to 1 pm maybe twenty orators, poets and a few songsters took the mike and expressed seditious sentiments. provided.
Only one was threatened with the claxton for singing (it sounded more like shouting) a song into the microphone that had many choruses of repeated obscenities – “Fuck car culture, fuck, fuck car culture etc.”. On threat of the claxton he gave up on the choruses but shouted all the verses to the painful end.
The winner of the Sedition Competition was a local woman called Elvie who blew us all away with her Eureka passion. The runner up was a local stand up poet, Phil McNamara.
There was also a sing along of our national anthem rewritten: “Australians all cannot rejoice/No longer fair and free …”
John Ireland (Children of Eureka) honoured us with an introductory speech; Cr Lynette Ashford, the recently elected mayor of a nearby rural shire got up and gave an impassioned plea for mateship and against self censorship.
Late in the day a woman who I understand is associated with the Footscray based Connolley Society, set up a pignose amp up on the Memorial and harangued us for maybe 15 minutes. Some sort of archetypal Irish bane that the English colonizers must have learned to fear and loathe, she was a big woman, fierce and angry, and her red hair was blowing wild as she shouted condemnation into the mike.
The wind was blustering and it increased to such a strength that we had to take down the big banners. So wind blown and buffeted were we by the day’s end that all of us, including this nomad and his dogs, were eager to quit the Park and seek shelter.
The day concluded with a meeting of maybe twenty people sitting in a circle on the lawn. With event co-producer Marcus Neofitou taking a leading role, the group exchanged contact details, agreed to meet regularly in Ballarat and to organise another Sedition Sunday for Eureka152 on Sunday 3 December 2006.
Many of the participating speakers came to me after to express gratitude for the event saying how good it was for them to speak and be heard in regard to their concerns about the Howard government’s assault on our rights and liberties.
The signs are that Sedition Sunday is here to stay as a Eureka commemoration event.
In Eureka solidarity
5 December 2005
See you all next year!