Why Bother Occupying Anything?

Pic of the Occupy Melbourne protest, Saturday Nov 29

Crusty students and the unemployed blocking up city streets.  That’s a common opinion I’ve heard on the Occupy Melbourne protestors from my friends.

Others pick out particular messages and say, ‘I don’t agree with that, so I don’t agree with what these people are doing.’ I’ve also heard, ‘Because of that protest, last Saturday I was stuck in traffic and missed my mixed netball final. So stuff ‘em.’

This movement is not about a particular group or agenda. It’s a collection of people from a variety of backgrounds who have had enough of corporate greed. In the words of Occupy Wall Street (OCW), “The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.”

And that’s it. Let’s not overcomplicate it. During my university days, I joined the odd march, and was disappointed when halfway down Swanston Street, a protest against the War in Iraq was hijacked by the anarchists, or the social alliance.

That didn’t happen with Occupy Melbourne. I first turned up last Saturday, and I had plenty of doubts. What I found was a sensationally well-organised rally, with a democratic process that never lost its focus. Ideas for action were tabled, people spoke for and against, and a consensus decided what happened next.

Is corporate greed ruining my life? Not really. I’ve got a level of education, and a support network that means it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever fall through the cracks. Also, I’m lucky enough to live in Australia. I’m a middle-class male without a mountain of debt.

However one day I’m going to have a family and a mortgage, and I don’t want to be forced to slave away my life just so I can afford the bare minimum of comforts. Which is looking increasingly likely, as the 1% with all the wealth just get richer, while each time that the economy explodes, it’s the other 99% of us who have to pay for it.

When the stock market crashes, someone with millions will just have fewer millions. It’s the people at the bottom who are most affected. Not because they weren’t working hard, or invested poorly, but because corporations and banks are led by their greed to make ridiculous decisions.

It’s a system that’s broken. I don’t know what the solution is, but I know that whatever we’re doing at the moment isn’t it. The economy exploded a few years ago, and it’s in the process of exploding again. For us to exist in a more loving and caring society, we need a fairer distribution of the wealth.

The Occupy movement started on September 17th, with Occupy Wall Street. Since then, hundreds of similar occupy movements that have sprung up around the world. Such as the one in Melbourne. With the idea that a one-off protest can go largely unnoticed, while it’s much harder to ignore an ongoing occupation.

So what’s happening now? After a meeting on Tuesday at the Victorian State Library lawn, the plan is occupy the Treasury Gardens from this Saturday, October 29.

Here’s Occupy Melbourne’s Unofficial Mission Statement, “This occupation is a proclamation of solidarity with the millions of people occupying cities around the world right now. They and we seek economic, political and social change that will lead to a more just and equitable society. We are the 99%”

If you can agree with that, get involved. It’s that simple. Nobody asked me to write this. I have no affiliations, and it was not approved by anyone. And I’m not saying that you need to be out camping in Treasury Gardens. I won’t be. But I believe in what’s happening here, and I’ll be making it to as many marches and protests as I can.

To find out more check out these websites:





A one-off encore performance of Xavier’s sell out Melbourne Fringe Festival Show, ‘Binge Thinking’ is on at 9.30pm, Wed Oct 26 at the Order of Melbourne, 401 Swanston Street Melbourne.

Part of the Quarterly Retort with Lawrence Mooney, Bob Franklin and Ben Lomas.