By Eileen Hyland
30th November 96
[Four years ago on Monday October 12, 1992, Mark
Hopkins was electrocuted while working at a
McDonald's restaurant in Manchester's Arndale centre.
McDonald's never admitted responsibility or liability
and the Coroners Court recorded a verdict of
[Print off and return to the McLibel Support Campaign]
Letter of support from 'Diamond' Jim McClelland
(former Cabinet Government Member)
As Robert Browning might have written, if he had been an Australian (or, on reflection, if he'd ever visited the place): Oh, to be in the Blue Mountains, Now that September's there.
The month just ending has lived up to it's reputation. The visual feast has been as sumptuous as ever: almond trees, then the prunus, cherry blossoms, azaleas, wisteria, the best crab apple bloom display I can remember, with rhododendrons and dogwoods on their way. Not to mention the tender new greening of the birches, the planes, ash trees, liquidambers, willows, oaks, and the occasional elm. And, for the most part and allowing for the nip in the air which is never far away up here, glorious mild sunshine has smiled on both locals and the abundant tourists.
But let's restrain our rapture, for a dark cloud looms on the horizon. On the Great Western Highway, on the very edge of Katoomba township, we are threatened by those satanic Golden Arches, the emblem of the Big Mac, which we have hitherto managed to keep at bay in the mountains, at least west of Blaxland. The local council had no difficulty in rejecting an earlier application, because it was for an outrageously unsuitable site. But there are justifiable fears that it may view this latest application more favorably. some councilors have already stated publicly that they have no "philosophical objection" to the idea of a McDonald's in the mountains. The battle lines are being drawn and the community is already manning the barricades.
This is a matter of concern not only for the people who live here but for every citizen who values the special flavour of this precious neck of the woods. Even if you have no objection to junk food, or the pervasive smell of frying, or the cluttering of already inadequate roads, some respect is surely due to the ambiance of one of our most beautiful areas, which rates among the world's outstanding scenic assets. If history is any guide, those Golden Arches will soon be supplemented by the Colonel's KFC, a Pizza Hut and a Red Rooster, and we will have a duplication of ugly Parramatta Road. Isn't that what people come up here to get away from ?
Since the fashion today is to discuss all topics in cold economic terms, isn't it obvious that the silliest way to exploit a precious resource is to destroy the very quality which makes it precious ? The supporters of the McDonald's application up here use all the meretricious arguments disseminated by the McDonald's propaganda machine: it will provide jobs (low-paid, casual, dead-end); everywhere else has one (the Blue Mountains is not like everywhere else); it provides a congenial social meeting place (what a sad commentary on our local and government authorities that a junk food purveyor should aspire to fill the gap in social amenities which it should be their business to provide !)
Renowned travel writer and photographer Frank Hurley wrote in 1952: "In one major direction the various towns on the Blue Mountains are unique. They possess no industries, either primary or secondary. They grow nothing and they make nothing. They subsist entirely on the tourists who come to view their scenic splendours and breathe their pure air."
The Blue Mountains region has been through several phases. After being a fashionable resort for the 'smart' Sydney folk, it fell into disfavour and became a bit tatty. In the last couple of decades it has had a renaissance. It's future is delicately poised. There is a constant battle between environmentalists and developers. Tourism continues to be the major industry but the question remains: how much and what sort of development is consistent with preserving the quality which draws tourists to the area ?
There are plenty of warnings around Australia of how to ruin places of natural beauty. Perhaps the outstanding example is Surfers Paradise. forty years ago it was a delightful, low-key resort. Today it's a vulgar, ugly monstrosity from which the discerning tourists avert their gaze on their way to more pleasant resorts.
That fate that could befall the Blue Mountains. That Moscow and Tokyo have a McDonald's is used as an argument that a place is a backwater without one. The mountains now have a range of eating places - from gourmet restaurants to charming low-key cafes and yes, takeaway outlets. It retains a pleasant small time ambiance which is an essential part of it's charm. Miami it ain't, thank God ! Everyone who values this unique area should lobby the Blue Mountains Council to keep it a McDonald's free zone.
Blue Mountain Campaign Reports and Updates
Picket of New Store - On Opening Day
16th December; 1996
A group of activists picketed the new McDonald's store on Holloway Road, London (UK) on Monday 16th December 1996 between noon and 2:30pm - only a few hours after it had opened its doors to its first customers.
The managements response was 'as usual offensive and aggressive but the main thing was that 100's of leaflets were handed out'. The police were called to try and move on the legal picket. Threats of arrests did not deter any of the protestors - once the police realised that the picketers knew their rights they were not hassled again.
Some potential customers turned away from the store even after a quick glance at the leaflet and many more talked with the group about the issues involved.
In a twist to the usual picket, the group then entered the store and requested to enter the 'Monopoly' game currently running in McDonald's stores in the UK. At first the store threatened to throw the group out, then they could not find the cards (if no purchase is made the gamer has to send off for vouchers). This was after they had been enlightened to their own rules and regulations regarding the 'No Purchase Necessary' game. Once the cards were found, the group - having encountered difficulties before with McDonald's processing their legal requests (ie. "they did not send on ANY vouchers if it was through a postal application") - went to the Town Hall's Trading Standards Offices and informed them of their difficulty in acquiring the cards aswell as McDonald's reticence in processing postal applications. The group felt it was obvious that McDonald's were illegally 'screening' people out who did not actually purchase their products - if McDonald's received a postal card claim then it knew that the claimant had not purchased at any McDonald's store so McDonald's did not honour its contract.
The Trading Standards Officer assured the group that they would look into the affair thouroughly and investigate McDonald's approach to the 'No Purchase Necessary' rules.
McDonald's beware .......
Brno, Czech Republic
17th October 1996
About 100 people from "Hnuti DUHA" (an environmental group) protested against McDonald's in Brno's main square. Many of them were dressed as business people with death masks and chased two ecologists in prison clothing (representing the McLibel 2) through the streets, while shouting "We want to consume more! Destroy the tropical rainforests! Throw ecologists in jail! Let's grind nature into hamburgers! Garbage is great!". They captured the two ecologists outside the McDonald's branch, and conducted a trial, after which the clown Ronald McDonald executed them. A crowd of 'admirers' cheered and dashed towards the store with champagne to celebrate another victory for multinationals, but (despite constant chanting of "We like you!" and "We support McDonald's") the store management did not let the costumed campaigners inside.
Regarding this street theatre, Martin Ander from Hnuti DUHA explained, "We wanted, in this non-traditional format, to show the true face of a firm which has the destruction of nature and pain of animal on its conscience."
A similar action occurred on the same day in Wenceslas Square in Prague.
USA group step up activity
The Liberation Collective in Portland, Oregon has now stepped up it's anti-McDonald's and McLibel support campaign to public demonstrations bi-weekly at 'area McDonald's'. At the protests, informational brochures are distributed and a large "McDeath" banner is displayed. The response from the local public has so far been very supportive.