Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Welcome to Melbourne Tea-Party

This site collates information about the so-called anti-terrorism legislation that the Australian and Victorian Governments have been progressively enacting since 2002.

It is currently maintained by a number of Melbournians who have grave concerns for the effects that this legislation will have on the vitality of democracy in Australia.

In the sections below you will find links to the legislation itself, analysis of it (What is it? How does it work? How might future legislation work?), responses to it, and importantly, ways for you to engage in the process of letting your representatives know what you think.


At 11:40 PM, Blogger DC said...


Well done on your site. It's excellent.

Do you know of the civil rights network in Melbourne? They meet every month. Their next meeting is:

6:30 pm, Thursday
8 December 2005

Evatt Room, Victorian Trades Hall Council

Corner Lygon and Victoria Streets, Carlton

All are welcome.

Their website can be found at:

No doubt the storm in your tea cup will help people become aware of the issues which face them.

At 4:17 AM, Blogger Andy said...


I stumbled across this blog while searching for Frank Cain. Great collection of links -- thanks. Btw, is this site maintained? Only the two comments above are from spammers. (Non-existent-Goddess I hate spammers.) Also, I don't believe we've reached December 27, 2006 just yet.



At 10:00 PM, Blogger aketus said...

December 06 makes it a sticky post - always at the top :)

At 9:27 PM, Blogger mh said...


I'm glad the Tea-Party blog was of some use to you. The blog began as an adjunct to an actual tea-party at my house. A couple of friends and I (some of us study law), decided that we needed to talk about some of this legislation with people we knew---to get the issue turning around a few heads outside the usual institutions, be they activist or academicist. So we read up and got a handle on where the legislation was at (as it stood last November, around the time when the ACT's Chief Minister had leaked a copy of what was to become the Anti-Terrorism Act No. 2 2005), had some friends---young and older---around for tea one afternoon, and talked about it.

We began by introducing ourselves (there were about thirty of us crammed into my little back-yard), and saying briefly why it was we were there. Ages ranged from about 20 to around 60. Most had been exposed to the discussions in the papers but felt that they still had a very inadequate grasp of what the laws do, their history, and how they function in their legal context. Our tea-drinkers turned out to be astoundingingly inquisitive; the brief presentation we had prepared for became a very long group group discussion. We turned the outside lights on and ordered pizza. My Mum had never done anything so political in her life, but by the end of the evening---which lasted much longer than we had anticipated---she was volunteering to drive the bus to the next protest.

Nothing much came of it the meeting, if by "much" one understands that which people call action. We the hosts had no prescriptions for what to do, although we did put together a template letter that people could send, and a few people at the tea party decided to get together an email list, and contemplated some street theatre around the topic. The theatre didn't eventuate. I suspect that the tea party might have done something to make the issue more important to some of the people there who have gone on to do other things in the student union at the university we attend. People have written articles, and I know that one department was considering a themed week around the issue.

But I had never thought of the tea party as means to an end, but rather as the end itself. I wanted to find a way for people to make politics a part of their life, rather than something for which they felt they had to sacrifice precious time. I was also thinking about a line from Gustav Landauer (the only part if his writings with which I am familiar):

"The state is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a way that human beings comport themselves towards one another; and we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by comporting ourselves differently towards each other."

(That translation's not great, but the German is hard to capture: "Staat ist ein Verhältnis, ist eine Beziehung zwischen den Menschen, ist eine Art, wie die Menschen sich zueinander verhalten; und man zerstört ihn, indem man andere Beziehungen eingeht, indem man sich anders zueinander verhält.")

Still, I'm not sure I succeeded. I would like to do something like it again, but I felt that last time WAS something of a drain on people's time, and to invite people again would be to ask something of them. But writing this suggests to me that success is perhaps a matter of how I think about this. Perhaps I can turn it into a success retrospectively, by organizing another tea party. What do I ask of them? That they have the little courage necessary not to let their own powerlessness become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But I am conscious of the danger: if a second tea party were successful, in the sense that people came along and had a good time discussing politics, would it in turn become a kind of psuedo-activity, a stand-in for the (truly difficult) project of mutual self-emancipation? The danger should perhaps not be overstated, but neither should it be ignored.

Thanks for prompting me Andy, to these modest reflections. Oh, and I've had a look at your blog. Those Hamburg(l)er's sound like they're having fun. "Politics in the first person." I like the sound of it.


(PS. Aketus is right.)

At 10:39 PM, Blogger Andy said...

Hey mh,

Ha! This blog is *great*.

That said...

Yeah OK, I get the whole December 27, 2006 thang... but really, it was either *that* or drawing attention to the error grammatical in the first line of the post, viz, "This site is collates...".

My bad.

As for your account re how the tea-party came to be... brilliant! Seriously! A nice cup of tea always aids one's digestion, whether it be food or legal mumbo-jumbo one's attempting to consume. Still, defeating these laws -- let alone understanding their real and eventual impact -- *does* require some degree of commitment. And discussion is not merely an adjunct to action: it is it's indispensable concomitant.

As for Landauer, yeah, I think his pithy definition is also... brilliant.

Speaking of the mystical anarchist, Larry Gambone's reflections on Landauer may be found here:

I'm aware of the existence of much further commentary, but unfortunately little of it is available in English, tho' Buber dedicates a chapter of his *Paths in Utopia* to Landauer.

Oh, and fyi, here's another blog I stumbled across:


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