What Do Australians Do When They Are Angry?

After the excitement of last weekend’s whale watching trip, which was closely followed by Wednesdays Ekka day out, I decided that I should take it easy this weekend. So I did.

Others didn’t though, as you will see.

Question: What do Australians do when they get angry?

Like most countries, Australians protest and, occasionally, riot.

In England, as we saw with the poll tax riots in 1990, demonstrations can often turn to violence. More recently in the London riots, we saw the violence turn into looting and burning.

The French, when they protest, like to burn things too. Normally it’s hay and tyres, but unusually, as in the ‘sheep import’ protests (also 1990), they have been known to set fire to ……sheep.


The world’s biggest protest took place in Rome, February 2003 against the Iraq war. About 3 million people attended that one. At the same time, protesters gathered in a further 600 cities worldwide in a co-ordinated effort against the invasion.

Australians joined in too, with an estimated 600,000 people demonstrating in cities around the country.

A similar number of Australians marched in all cities in November 2005 in protest against the Howard Liberal-National governments anti-union and anti-worker laws.

Yes, if Australians are angry they do protest. But I haven’t found any evidence of those protests turning to violence…… or fires and looting.

Even when the Gypsy Jokers, a notorious bikie gang, held their protest in March 2009 against proposed anti-bikie laws and the Serious Crime Control Act 08, I could find no evidence of fires, looting or violence.

Australian riots.

Australia has had riots, but not many. Interestingly, one of the largest riots in Australian history was all down to the closing of a pub!

When the Star Hotel closed its doors for the last time in September 1979 after giving away free beer during the evening, a confrontation between patrons and police soon got out of hand.

About 4000 people were involved in the two hour fracas, which involved fighting with police, missile throwing and…… the burning of two police cars.

So Australians aren’t immune to setting fire to things, they just don’t do it so often.

You can actually see video evidence for yourself over at the ABC.net website. From what I saw, I reckon the Star Hotel must have given away an awful lot of free beer.

This Week’s Australian Protests: A Roundup

That brings me to this week’s protest roundup in Australia. First, at around the same time as I was having my fun packed day at the Ekka, protesters in Tasmania were unveiling what’s been described as the world’s biggest banner (60 m x 18 m)…..

And as I was taking it easy this weekend, others were jumping into their cars and trucks and heading to Canberra in what was called “The Convoy of No Confidence”. Yes, it’s a protest against the government and my pet hate, the carbon tax.

They’ve got a song too, 3 guesses what it is……

So there you have it, a roundup of what Australians do when they get angry. Next week, a group supporting the carbon tax plans to stage a rival protest on bicycles. No, I didn’t make that up.

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Kaven August 25, 2011, 2:29 pm |

    Bob you did not mention Cronulla 2005. I only do because a mate of mine lived through it.

    There was one major factor to this… My Mate put it like this.
    you come to australia to be Australian. If I and the wife were to move to the middleeast and decide to live like Australians (Smile, have fun, speak english and debate, and most of all Dress in as much or as little as we want) We would be killed simple as that. But why is it that the same people are allowed to come to our country and cause issues. We want everyone to live here mate, the problem is the worlds issues follow them.

    I dont put up links, but just Wiki Cronulla 2005.

    “The 2005 Cronulla riots were a series of sectarian clashes and mob violence originating in Cronulla, New South Wales and spreading, over the next few nights, to additional Sydney suburbs.

    On 4 December 2005, a group of volunteer surf lifesavers were assaulted by a group of young men of Middle Eastern appearance, with several other violent assaults occurring over the next week. These incidents were widely reported and commented on in Sydney media. An initially peaceful crowd gathered in the morning of 11 December 2005 and by midday, approximately 5,000 people gathered at Cronulla beach to protest against a recent spate of violence against locals.

    However, fuelled by alcohol, the crowd turned to violence when a young man of “Middle Eastern appearance”[1] was spotted on the beach. He was surrounded by a crowd outside a local hotel and attacked. Retaliatory riots also took place that night and on subsequent nights, resulting in extensive property damage and several more assaults, including one stabbing and even some attacks against ambulance and police officers.

    That being said Cronulla is a great place to live and is one place that will always stick with me.

    • BobinOz August 26, 2011, 6:54 pm |

      You are right about Cronulla and no, I shouldn’t have forgotten it, I was here at the time. In Sydney, would you believe?

      Mind you, by the time we got to Sydney (for New Year’s Eve) I think the trouble was pretty much all over. But it was due to, as you said, people from other countries not liking the way Australians lived and dressed etc. When in Rome, as they say.

      Mrs BobinOz and I were just on holiday at the time, and I remember reading about it on the way over here on the plane.

      Anyway, now that I’ve read up on it again, it does look as though it was a lot bigger than the Star Hotel skirmish. And there was a car set on fire too.



  • Gordon August 23, 2011, 10:01 pm |

    Hi Chris , as far as the vetting process goes , Australia has convicted several radical islamists for plotting and planning terrorist attacks within Australia , it’s unfortunate that here as elsewhere , the radicalised may be second generation , i.e. “home grown” , as were the London bus bombers .

    Exactly what an attack on Lucas Heights or a train station is expected to accomplish beyond increased alienation of muslims , quite frankly escapes me.

    Had an attack on Lucas Heights ( Australias only nuclear facility ) been successful , it would have meant the denial of short lived medical isotopes for cancer treatment , these isotopes have a half life measured in hours , meaning import is impractical.

    General comment , Australia has , arguably , one of the best functioning democracies , if we don’t like our government , we can ( and do ) vote them out , and further to that , because we have a Federation of States , it is entirely possible to have have a majority of States on one side of politics while the Federal level is on the other side .

    Aussies have a basic distrust of politicians and like to keep them on their toes and accountable , as much as possible.

    That said , we also have many very hard working and well meaning people in parliament ( both sides ) , however conscience votes are rarely allowed so the “party line” is often followed , hence back to booting them back out of office regularly .

    Aussies don’t need to riot very often because we have voice , and the means to express it.

    Our soldiers have fought and died to give those freedoms in several wars . That matters a LOT to Aussies . Hence ANZAC day .

    Aussies do protest at perceived injustices whenever they feel the need to send a message to Canberra , e.g. the Convoy , failing that , we vote , and we will.

    • BobinOz August 24, 2011, 9:07 pm |

      Hi Gordon

      It’s hard to understand what any of them achieve by blowing anything up. Half the time they kill as many of their own people as they do others.

      There are no boundaries in “war” these days, always a difficult situation but now almost impossible with those second generation home grown terrorists.

      As for Australia, let’s hope it remains riot free. I’m looking forward to getting a vote sometime soon, hopefully before the end of this year, but certainly by early next year latest.

      I’ve already got someone in mind that I would like to vote out….

      • Gordon August 25, 2011, 8:18 pm |

        Bob , I look forward to your “I’m an Australian citizen now” post someday not too far away , as I once mentioned I came here as a kid and when I decided to take out citizenship in my 20’s I thought it would be a simple formality .

        It was formal ofcourse but what took me by surprise was how meaningful it was to me personally , it took several days to sink in fully . One of the best things I ever did.
        You’re already an Aussie , I can tell 😉 , getting your papers makes it official and if you were young means you could be conscripted into two armies instead of just one in wartime !

        That is ofcourse tongue in cheek in your case but more seriously addresses the issue of true allegiance of others , i.e. islamists .

        On other matters middle East , let us hope that recent events transpire into greater awareness and demands for personal freedoms and tolerance of all others . I hope.

        • BobinOz August 26, 2011, 7:04 pm |

          Hi Gordon

          I’m looking forward to writing that post too, and my citizenship ceremony. I’ve been to a couple of them before, they are very moving occasions. I welled up a bit at the last one, and it was nothing to do with me really, it was my mates!

          I’ll have no trouble pledging my allegiance to Australia, apart from the football, rugby and cricket, of course.

          A lot going on in the Middle East these days, let’s hope it is all for the good, I think there is a chance it might be.

  • Chris August 23, 2011, 4:54 am |

    Hi Bob, great blog, I guess the immigrants Australia let in have been vetted, vetted and vetted some more where as over here in old blightey as long as you can make it across the channel your in!
    I am not saying for a minute there were a lot of “non British nationals” involved but…well…. just look at the news clips.
    Oh by the way an Irish mate of mine was one of the rioters who broke into Argos and looted it, he managed to get away with 500 catalogues if ya want one? 🙂

    • BobinOz August 24, 2011, 8:57 pm |

      Haha! Yes, I’ll have one, you know what? I do miss Argos.

      But not too much 🙂

      Gordon has covered the rest………

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