Friday, 9 November 2012

McDonalds in Tecoma

There's a small town called Tecoma not far from my house where McDonalds applied to build a new resturant. A small town on the edge of a rainforest, and a national park, where tourism is its biggest industry, where people come through to spend the day out in the bush and get away from the city, where there are heaps of locally-owned resturants and cafés in the town, and the towns next door.

So when a councellor named Samantha Dunn heard that McDonalds wanted to build in her community, she started a campaign to stop them, way back in April 2011.

McDonalds went to the local government for approval to build on the site, and was turned down unanimously. None of the members wanted McDonalds in their town. And neither did the local residents. Objections to the plan came in by the hundreds.

Undeterred, McDonalds went to a higher level tribunal known as VCAT. It's basically a board of judges that resolve disputes between parties. In this case, between McDonalds and the local government.

To everyone's shock, VCAT approved McDonald's plan to build in Tecoma.

Hundreds of angry citizens flooded a local council meeting, demanding that they confront VCAT and lobby a complaint. The local government refused to stand up for their descision, and the protestors went home in disgust.

Some people thought that it was over, and that McDonalds had won. But in an incredible display of determination; the local residents planted a garden on the site that McDonalds now had permission to build on. They put up signs saying "No Maccas", and decorated their new community garden.

The land owner, a paediatrician named Joel Freeman, wanted to put up fences around the site to keep protestors out, but the police advised him to leave a gap in the fence, so that he didn't make it worse.

The protestors, in their new garden, set up a tent to camp out on the site. They frequently had picnics and special events in the garden, including a music festival where a song entitled The Ballad of Tecoma was featured. The song was written by a local resident, and tells the story of the plight against McDonalds.

News coverage from most channels in Australia got hold of the events and it made front page news in every local newspaper. The campaign was heard of all over the world.

Even when an arsonist lit the garden on fire; the protestors cleaned it up within hours and simply stayed up all night on security shifts to watch over the site.

Many well-known figures including Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me, Stephanie Alexander of the Kitchen Garden Foundation, and Jamie Oliver of the Ministry of Food Foundation all showed their support in one way or another.

At first the citizens of Tecoma wanted to keep junk food out of their town, to protects the small businesses that would be threatened by a large fast food chain, to keep the kids at the primary school opposite the site healthy, and to keep thier streets free from litter.

It's no longer about fighting to keep junk food out of the hills, it's become about a small community fighting a billion dollar, international corporation, it's about their right to be heard, and their right to democracy.

The fact of the matter is that over a thousand people in the area have shown their disgust with McDonalds in their hills, and despite the local government's unanimous descision, the supreme court has taken favour with McDonalds.

This David and Goliath story is about fighting for democracy and justice.

Earlier today, Joel Freeman (The paediatrician that owns the site) came and personally took down the signs on his property and evicted the protestors there.

The police stood and watched the scene, shaking their heads in disbelief. They spoke to the protestors there about how often they are called to a McDonalds only a few kilometres away to deal with anti social behavior, drunk and disorderly customers, fights, and dangerous driving in the car park.

The protestors have met with arson, eviction, ignorant teenagers, internet trolls, police, the government, and a billion dollar corporation that is more interested in real estate than it is in food, and are still not backing down. Using music and and a garden to fight for what they believe in with peace.

In a community where the biggest income comes from independant cafés, resturants, and tourism in and around the national park, all owned by local residents, McDonalds in not welcome.

You can show your support for the residents fighting McDonalds by liking this Facebook page.

1 comment:

  1. This is another case of the judiciary sold-out and corrupted by organised crime in the form of the Food Syndicate.
    Similar illegal judgements are often made to favour the Building Syndicate, the Alcohol Syndicate, the War Syndicate and of course the Gambling Syndicate.
    Let's face it : It's a News World (Order) with the NWO Syndicate headquartered in New York City, the "safe haven" for the World's most wealthy and influential HUMAN CRIMINALS.