Monday, June 27, 2005

The Week Outside Parliament

From my desk I have a superb view, over the roof of the National Library, of the forecourt outside the House of Representatives. This is the space where dignitaries are received, flags are flown, and rallies and protests gather. Since this is an election year, I expect things to be quite entertaining from time to time. I've got a decent set of binoculars with me, so I can read all the banners and placards, though numberplates are tantalisingly not quite legible.

The last week or two have been busy. The tally:

Flags flown
  • Pakistan - President Musharraf paid a call. His bodyguard suffered some confusion at Auckland airport as to just when they were expected to surrender their guns.

  • China - The deputy premier was here a couple of weeks before this with the motorcade and all, and was greeted by pro-Tibet protestors as well as a more welcoming contingent, but I don't know who it was for this time.

  • Olympic - The Olympic standard was flying from the otherwise unoccupied poles for Olympic Day. They were flying for two days, in fact - perhaps as long as it was June 23 somewhere in the world...
Crowds gathered
  • Large numbers of schoolchildren congregated for a street march to promote road safety. Lots of small people in traffic-cone orange and zebra-crossing stripes to make the point. Easily the biggest crowd of the week.
    8/10 including a bonus point for cuteness

  • Orchardists gathered to protest Australia's continued denial of apple exports from New Zealand. Apparently, Australian growers import New Zealand budwood, which can carry fireblight, while denying access to the fruit. Protestors dressed as cricketers used apples in a re-enactment of the infamous underarm incident to help get their point across.
    7/10 including a bonus point for humour

  • A somewhat confused and low key appearance. While the PRC's flag was flying out front, something that looked like a small, cheap Chinese festival dragon wended its way across the paving and halfway up Parliament steps. Suspecting some form of human rights protest, I was bemused by the lack of security personnel, or indeed anybody else. A look through the binoculars revealed a couple of small placards carried in support with the Green Party logo and nothing else. When the dragon, or whatever it was, was laid out across the steps, lettering down the side read "WGTN dumps 1000 bottles every 1/2 hour." Even the Greens' own web site has nothing to say on the topic of glass recycling later than a press release on 26 May.
    2/10 with points docked for lack of point, organisation, spectacle, timeliness, and relevance

  • Federated Farmers, dressed in orange overalls, deliver two orange coffins full of petition forms protesting Government changes to land access rights. "They abused and jeered senior ministers including Michael Cullen and Mr Sutton, who gave as good as he got."
    5/10 including two bonus points for colour coordination and props and another for Minister-baiting, but docked a point for failure to engage public understanding and another point for being a late second to the party with the use of orange


At 1:50 PM, Blogger The Heretik said...

Imagine no countries.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Mentis Fugit said...

What, like the Romans did?

(But thank you for putting Jeux Sans Fontières back in my head.)


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