Spontaneous GCSB Rally In Invercargill

Someone had asked me a week or so ago if I was interested in organising a rally against the GCSB Bill in Invercargill in the support of the nationwide protest. I declined, not because I thought it wasn't important, but because I didn't think there was enough time to organise something that would have the same impact as our anti-mining and asset sale marches (attracting hundreds of people). However, I got a txt message from a local union organiser asking if I was attending a protest in Invercargill's Wachner Place at 2pm.

I do not generally support such gatherings when there is likely to be only a handful of people as it may inadvertently ridicule the cause by giving the impression that few care. In this case I made an exception and turned up to give moral support to whoever had initiated it.

A little before 2 pm I arrived in Wachner Place to find one or two people looking as though they were waiting for something to happen. Surprisingly within 10 or so minutes we had over fifty people milling around looking for a leader (to put this in perspective, as a percentage of our population, it would be  the equivalent of 1,400 in Auckland). Whoever had created the Facebook event, and had it listed on the national site, had not turned up themselves. Those who were there had been contacted by random txt messages or had picked it up on Facebook. We even had a cameraman from CUE TV arrive with the expectation that something was going to happen.

Ex MP and past Invercargill Labour candidate, Lesley Soper, turned up with the same intention as myself and together we decided to use the opportunity to present the Green/Labour perspectives on the law change and lead a question session and general discussion.

Many of those present were under thirty and had no party affiliation. They were concerned and angry and felt let down by the political system. From memory, here are some of the things they asked:

"How can John Key do this when most polls say we don't want it?"

"Will this bill give the right for the GCSB to spy on me anytime?"

"We should be allowed binding referenda, we should be able to say if we want this or not!"

"How can the Government push this through and ignore the Human Rights Commission, the Law Society and a Supreme Court Judge?"

"Why doesn't the media report this stuff properly?"

"I can't believe this is happening in New Zealand, what can we do?"

Later in the afternoon I saw the extent of the protests around the rest of the country, we are heading down a slippery slope and people are rightly worried.


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