G20 leaders’ heads in the sand: protesters

Protesters at the largest G20 rally in Brisbane have been told the summit has its head in the sand on the biggest issues of our time.


The Australian government had failed in its duty to represent voters, Greens Senator for Queensland Larissa Waters told the crowd gathered at Roma Street in the heart of the city.

“I want to thank you for standing loud and proud today and sending that message, that you expect better from our leaders,” Senator Waters told the crowd.

“This G20 conference, while it continues to ignore equality for gender, social justice and climate change, it doesn’t speak for us.

“It won’t ever solve those problems while it continues to have its head in the sand on the true issues of our time.”

Well over 500 people gathered for a people’s march, which left Roma Street, bound for Musgrave Park, with no sign of any trouble.

Many protesters are defying G20 legislation by using masks – a prohibited item – at the rally. But they say police have advised that as long as they do not conceal their identity the masks will be allowed.

The crowd should send Prime Minister Tony Abbott a message of disapproval at the next federal election, Senator Waters said.

“You have a chance in about three or four months to send that same message to (Queensland Premier) Campbell Newman.”

One protester at the Roma Street rally has been charged with possessing a prohibited item inside the G20 security zone.

Police won’t reveal what the 25-year-old was carrying, but media reports have said she and another woman were detained by police for carrying a gas mask and a leatherman knife. The younger woman, 20, has not been charged.

Both women have been issued with exclusion notices, preventing them from being near G20 events.

“The women came to the attention of police during a protest at Roma Street,” police told AAP.

Several women have dressed as angels for the people’s march, with huge feather wings, saying they were depicting “climate change guardians”.

“The people who are already suffering from climate change are the people who have contributed the least to it,” protester Deborah Hart told AAP.

“As a symbol of climate justice, we think angels are a perfect iconography.”

The rally is a wide-ranging coalition of different interest groups protesting over everything from indigenous rights and climate change inaction to the mistreatment of refugees, coal seam gas and corporate greed.

About 6000 officers are patrolling Brisbane for the busiest day of protests on the sidelines of the G20.