Archive for April 23, 2008

Connex – Making Money From Alienation And Violence

Posted in Rage Against The Machine with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2008 by Buck Frain

What the cunting Jesus do Connex think they’re playing at? According to this article in The Age last weekend, a group of their Authorised Officers (AO’s) have hospitalised a man who had a valid ticket and concession card because he refused to give them more personal information than he was legally required to. They dragged him out of the train on to a deserted platform and proceeded to beat the shit out of him. When challenged by a concerned resident who heard the victim’s cries, they claimed to be the police and told her to go away.

Stories like this are far too familiar although few of them reach the media. I have a friend who was on a train late at night when four or five burly AO’s confronted a lone teenager and stood over him prodding and threatening when he couldn’t find his concession card. When my friend, the only other person in the carriage, concerned that the young man was being unduly intimidated asked him if he was OK, the officers turned on the defender. They told my friend he was interfering with their work and that they were going to fine him for impeding official business. He tried to explain that he was concerned for a young man who appeared scared. They dragged my friend off the train (yes, he did have a valid ticket and, no, he had not done or said anything inappropriate) at the next station, once again a deserted platform, where one officer punched him in the face and another kneed him in the chest, knocking him to the ground before threatening to do further harm if he got up. My friend stayed down, went home and made no official mention of the incident.

Many incidents don’t get reported because with AO’s working in gangs of 4 or more, they have the strength of numbers. 6 people with uniforms telling the same story against one person with no witnesses. What’s the point in contesting it? The propaganda is pasted all over the trains about what they’re allowed to do and when they choose to extend the boundaries of their powers, what can an ordinary member of the public do?

It would seem these Gestapo-like goons are just part of the great new public transport plan. There’s Metlink’s ongoing publicity against the Fare Evader. What the fuck? Every customer on trains is exposed to this insulting campaign that assumes a level of criminality in everyone. I used to buy tickets all the time but I don’t now because I’m sick to death of being patronised and insulted. Fuck that! Treat me like a criminal and I’ll fucking act like one.

A former Connex employee tells me that even if everyone paid for tickets all the time Connex would still lose money. They pump up the figures of loss due to fare evasion to illicit public sympathy and to justify a policy of mob-like standover tactics. Their real revenue, what gets them over the line is fines! Yes, they rely on people NOT buying tickets because the fines are worth more than ticket sales! Think about it: one fine equals over forty passengers on two-hour full-fare tickets – pretty good way to beef up the day’s takings. They deliberately put a publicity campaign in place that disenfranchises their customers and then further fuck us off by openly treating us like prison-fodder with their thugs threatening, harassing and assaulting anyone who even vaguely steps out of line or questions their actions. Connex don’t provide the service that we’re paying for, trains routinely being either late or early and their frequently cancelling services without notice. They’re unaccountable, untouchable and openly hostile. The natural human reaction is to protest in the easiest way available – not buying a ticket. I mean why not? Fuck them, the multi-national bastards. Connex doesn’t give a fuck about the people of Victoria.

It’s nothing short of robbery. Isn’t Public Transport social infrastructure? Until the government sold it, we paid for it not only with tickets but with taxes, we owned it. It never had to be profitable because it was something we deemed a benefit to society and we wore the cost. The whole PT culture has changed, every tram used to have a conductor. He’d sell you a ticket, tell you where you needed to change or get off, he’d ask undesirables to leave. Everyone bought tickets and without contest because he provided a service as well as being a point of sale. It was civilised and human. It was socially inclusive.

These AO’s are the outward expression of a PT system that is cynical, punitive and criminally violent. They’re complete arseholes. Not smart enough to be cops, not tough enough to be bouncers, they’re like parking inspectors with a license-to-detain. They flock onto already-over-crowded carriages and fuck with people who are already shat that they’re an hour late, and then have to put up with some stink-mouthed fuckhole barking at them to see a ticket they should never have paid for. I can’t wait for the inevitable day when AO’s unwittingly pick on someone with some self-defence knowledge and get the absolute cunt kicked out of them.

One person confronted by six can get away with using quite a lot of force in self-defence, and since we know AO’s routinely abuse their power it is quite reasonable to think that you may be in serious physical danger if surrounded by AO’s, especially if you’re in a deserted environment. So, theoretically, it may be possible to get away with killing one of the bastards even if you got caught. This little piece from the College Of Law at ANU’s website offers a small ray of hope:

Burden of Proof in Action: a case of self defence.

Lets examine how the evidential burden operates through the example of a killing which the defendant claims was done in self-defence. The legal burden rest with the prosecution to prove all the elements of the offence of murder: the killing was intentional, defendant’s act caused the death etc. To allow the jury to consider self-defence, the defendant must adduce some evidence to support that argument: some evidence that the killing was a reasonable response to the act of the victim. The defendant does not have to prove that it was self defence. If there is sufficient evidence for the issue to be considered, the prosecution bears the legal burden to prove that the killing was not in self-defence.

Well, it’s food for thought. I’m not suggesting that anyone should go around hurting other people, please remember that violence is not a solution unless you’re getting paid for it. However, if you know anyone who has bashed a Connex officer, let me know, I need a good laugh. I’m don’t think I’m gonna bash anyone. I wish I could sometimes, but sadly I never learnt the skills – the kicks-to-the-knee, the pressure points. Damn…all that wasted youth. I’m just gonna fire up the PS3, shoot some virtual cunts and dream of freedom. Die you grey-coated fucks!