Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hands Off Kim Sattler!

(John McTernan and The Thick Of It's Malcolm Tucker. See below for the link...)

Kim Sattler is Secretary of Unions ACT and is the person who is being hung out to dry by Julia Gillard in the wake of the stupid decision by her security staff to rush her in a wedge of copper heavies to her car.

Sattler had been tipped off by Gillard’s press secretary Tony Hodges to the effect that Opposition leader Tony Abbott had made remarks indicating that there was no future for the Aboriginal Tent Embassy which was celebrating its 40th anniversary. She was also told that Abbott was at a function with Gillard at a nearby restaurant.

Kim is well-known to have close links with the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. The information she was given by the Gillard staffer was obviously meant to be passed on to the hundreds of people at the Tent Embassy with the aim of making Abbott a target of their complaints and that expressed in the form of some sort of anti-Abbott protest.

Kim took the advice she was given in good faith and passed it on as any supporter of the Tent Embassy would have.

As intended, a group of people from the Tent Embassy rushed across to the restaurant and demanded that Abbott come out and speak to them about his comments.

When Abbott declined to do so, they began hammering with the hands on the windows of the restaurant and chanting.

The capitalist press whipped this up into reports of a “riot” and deplored the “violence” directed, as a result of the security over-reaction, at Gillard who was photographed minus a shoe and stumbling – not from the actions of any protester – but because of the way her security was bustling her to her car.

I wasn’t there, so I can’t give an eye-witness account.

But these people were, and here is what they say. From a contributor to Inymedia:

Not for the blink of an eye were Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott so much as threatened, even less endangered, on the 26th of January by demonstrators from the 40th anniversary Aboriginal Embassy camp in Canberra.

The only violence came from a young copper who punched and choke-gripped a young painted up Aboriginal man, a young Aboriginal woman, an SBS cameraman and I believe one other person standing harmlessly near the restaurant side exit through which clumsy security men rushed out Gingeralla, causing her to lose that now famous blue suede shoe. The only “violence” from the demonstrators I’m aware of was a punch by an activist to the copper who had roughed up the woman without cause. “I won’t stand for any man doing that to a woman,” he told me, showing me bleeding chapped knuckles that must have connected with something metallic on the copper. Nothing would have been easier than to just form a corridor of two lines of coppers for the PM to calmly walk though to her car.

It went the rounds of the protest encampment that that choke-gripping copper is the son of Canberra’s police chief. True or false – I don’t know. But one can imagine that someone from such a stable might think they’re above the law and can do anything with impunity.

Violence from us? Rubbish. I stood close to a handful banging for a while with their hands on the about 2cm-thick glass walls of The Lobby restaurant, part of a group of about 50 making a lot of noise. A bit of noise is enough to spook our two top political leaders and agents guarding the prime minister? No wonder the Americans commented gleefully, can’t they even protect their prime minister?

Violence? How about this for potentially disastrous violence: One copper in the line pushing us back was seen unbuttoning his pistol holster. Another copper had his hand on his taser weapon. A third had his truncheon extended. We heard no order given for any of this. We did, though, see a lot of frightened young faces in that blue-black line advancing on us. The Australian Federal Police said its officers lost control and had no choice but to bustle Gillard and Abbott away in the prime minister’s car. Lost control over 50 noisy but otherwise peaceful demonstrators with almost the same number of police there?

And the story above is corroborated by this account from a website covering current affairs in the ACT:

Rod and I were at the Embassy and I must explain what happened to counteract the fantasy many in the media have created regarding the so-called riot. Media in Australia are often pathetic in their requirement for the sensational - if it isn't, they will make it up.

We were all listening to the speeches by the elders when they were interrupted by the news that Tony Abbott was at a function close by and had called for the Aboriginal Tent Embassy to be torn down. This, of course, did not win him many friends in the gathering. From what I gather, a group of five or six walked across the rose garden to the restaurant that was called The Pork Barrel Café on the sandwich board outside but was really called The Lobby. The group asked to speak to Tony Abbott but he wouldn't come out so the group told him through the surrounding windows how they felt about what he'd said.

It was at that point that Julia Gillard's security people began to panic. Instead of formulating a plan to get her and Abbott out of the restaurant with as little fuss as possible which would have been quite easily done, they instead called the police - local and federal - and then pushed and dragged the PM in a flying wedge toward her car. The crowd of people they pushed and dragged her through consisted of media and security. That's when the PM lost her shoe. Michael Anderson was knocked to the ground on the same steps and several others in the group were manhandled by the police.

The PM was never in any danger, there was no riot. By the time the rest of the people came across to see what was going on, the PM was long gone and Abbott too. Rod and I arrived to see a police cordon across the street - blocking it as well as police cars at the other end blocking that. If a riot had occurred they would have had us like fish in a barrel. There was a bit of shouting by individuals but the police never moved - just looked grim and menacing - no one was arrested. I saw a cop unclip his gun holster and put his hand on his freed gun and it occurred to me that the police might not need much to lose their cool. Rod was just walking forward and I warned him about the gun and the mood of the police.

The leaders from the Tent Embassy called for everyone to go back to the site and people began straggling back.

So much for a “riot”!

Then it was revealed that Gillard’s press secretary had resigned.

That was a bad look for Gillard and her office - that the so-called “riot” had been initiated by her team to get at Abbott.

So someone must have suggested that the blame be placed elsewhere. Anything to take the heat off Gillard.

That was when Kim Sattler received a phone call from John McTernan, the former Blair adviser appointed to manage Gillard’s communications strategy.

I give some background on McTernan in an earlier blog post here: .

Elsewhere (see: ) he has been linked with the character Malcolm Tucker, from the excellent BBC series The Thick Of It.

According to Sattler, McTernan phoned her to say that she would be named as the person who had given the information about Abbott to the Tent Embassy people.

Sattler told McTernan she had a right to privacy.

“He said, ‘Well, we are going to release your name’. He said, ‘We’re going to have a press conference and we are going to name you’”, reported Sattler.

The she accurately described herself as the meat in the sandwich, as the messenger that was being shot.

Now, I’ve got to admit that I knew Kim a long time ago when she was living in Adelaide.

I haven’t seen or spoken to her for years, but I hear of her from time to time and I know that she is an absolutely genuine supporter of the working class and of progressive causes, which is more that can be said of either Gillard or Abbott.

So I say “Hands off Kim Sattler”.

She doesn’t deserve to be sacrificed to the capitalist media by Gillard’s team of spin doctors just to get a totally unprincipled traitor to whatever the Labor cause might mean these days, off the hook.

Long live the Aboriginal Tent Embassy!

For a Treaty and a new Constitution!

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