Thursday, 18 July 2013

McDonalds Still in Tecoma

It was eight months ago that I wrote an entry regarding the state of affairs between McDonalds and a tiny little community who want nothing to do with it. If you haven't read the other post, I'll make a long story short:

For over two years now, a little town has been fighting to keep McDonalds out of their town. It started as one person with a Facebook page and a petition. It became the support of hundreds who flooded local government meetings to let their opinions be heard.

Democracy was ignored, the government's decision was overruled by the Supreme Court, a pediatrician sold the land across the road from a primary school to McDonalds, and now they're trying to demolish a historically significant building just a few hundred metres from a national park to build a 24/7 fast food outlet.

Now, over 10,000 people have liked the Facebook page, McDonalds have hired private security at the site, and there is a permanent protest with people camping out on the proposed building site, even on the roof of the building to be demolished.

The story has been covered by every major television station, radio station, and newspaper in Australia at least once a week for months, and has reached major networks across the world.

To put it into perspective: this is a list of news coverage just from outside Australia. Tecoma was once an unknown town, not even big enough for it's own postcode, now it is the talk of the country.

But the reason why I'm bringing it up again isn't just that. It's what has happened just recently. Amidst McDonalds hiring security, the protestors enlisting the support of lawyers on standby for any arrests made, and the 24/7 stand off, is the suing that has happened.

It might not be what you think. McDonalds is suing the protestors. Eight of them to be exact. Eight ordinary citizens with families to keep safe and bills to be payed, have been slapped in the face with an injunction from the Supreme Court.

These people are expected to pay for legal costs, security costs, land tax, rates, and more.

The protestors are describing this as blatant forms of bullying and terrorizing, in an attempt to scare the locals away.

McDonalds have stated that they "needed to seek relief from the court so that they can safely build the restaurant in accordance with planning approval.

Is that fair? Or is it bullying?

It didn't take long for this situation to be compared to the McLibel case in England. A lawsuit in which two environmental activists represented themselves against McDonalds in a ten year David and Goliath battle, making it the longest running case in English history.

It went on to become a documentary, which is described as "almost essential viewing up here in the Dandenongs," by Garry Muratore, a spokesperson for anti-McDonalds group BurgerOff.

Will Supreme Court interference and injunctions stop the protesting? Or is this battle only just beginning?