Today’s eviction defense in Taringa may have been organised at first instance by Michael Berkman, the Greens’ MP for Maiwar, and the Brisbane Renter’s Alliance, but it saw support from many local grassroots and left-wing groups. The Greens (notable mention to Jonno Sri for locking himself to the tenant’s front door), Socialist Alternative, Australia’s Communist Party, anarchists, the South East Queensland Union of Renters (SEQUR), members of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU), and the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU), came together in a hope-inducing display of solidarity.
Semper Floreat understands the tenant, David, was not evicted. Dozens of protestors standing strong, poised and ready to directly resist any eviction attempt were able, through this show of force and solidarity, to demonstrate to the police – otherwise intending to execute a warrant against David – that this tenant was not going anywhere without a fight.
Police reportedly left “in shame”, but it’s not over yet. Legally, they can still evict David until 6pm today, or between 3pm and 6pm on Monday afternoon (the 20th). After those periods, they will require another warrant.
Semper understands David is a disability pensioner and formerly lived in his car. Eviction would mean a return to insecurity – his public housing flat has until this point been a lifeline. If David were to ‘come quietly’, he could accept three months’ temporary accommodation, but not without complying to strict rules: he would not be allowed to cook food in this new accommodation, he would need to be physically present for twice-weekly inspections, he would need to attend weekly meetings with management, and his rent would be 50% higher than it presently is.
David is also a SEQUR member. Sam Adams, SEQUR’s Secretary and Chair of the UQ Union’s council, provided us with this statement:
“We all deserve to have a secure home. Secure means not being kicked out on the whim of some investor or government department. It means not having to hold your breath to see if your lease will be renewed every six or twelve months. That is what we are fighting for and we will smash anything that stands in our way. Today’s victory shows that when we stand together and fight together we will win together. Sadly, these eviction attempts are going to become more common in the years ahead, but – make no mistake – SEQUR will be there to rise to the challenge and eviction defences will become all the more common too. Fuck your profits! Houses are for living in, not for making money”.Sam Adams
You can join SEQUR here: https://sequr.homes/join/.
Ella Gutteridge, UQ Union Environment Officer and member of Socialist Alternative, had this to say:
“Young people are facing a housing crisis right now, with high rents, low wages and few options. It’s appalling that the Labor state government would try to evict David into homelessness – housing is a right, and public housing should be massively expanded. This protest shows that collective action can make a real impact”.Ella Gutteridge
Drew Pavlou, former UQ Senator and larrikin, perhaps said it best: “this bloke’s only crime was having a messy front yard”.
He went on to say:
“I believe no Australian should ever be homeless. We are one of the wealthiest countries in the world – why are we kicking disability pensioners to the streets? It’s completely unjust and unfair, and so I went out there to support the little guy in his fight against injustice”.Drew Pavlou
Whether police will try again on Monday, or with another warrant in the weeks to come, is anyone’s guess. One thing is clear, though: today was a victory for left-wing solidarity and grassroots activism. Semper will be on the ground to report on whatever unfolds at David’s on Monday afternoon, and we hope to see you there.