G20 Road Closures – Grey St closed between Peel St and Melbourne St

Grey betw peel melb

I’ve been documenting the G20 in the form of simple street maps. The road closures offer excellent commentary of the event.


Free trade

Corn sugar cotton.



Long-term lease



Heads of State

Starvation slavery


Queen’s land

Metropolitan Police

As Prime Minister of Great Britain, William Lamb (a.k.a. Lord Melbourne) presided over the first Opium War in the interests of free trade. At the time, the land of the Brisbane CBD was being subdivided for the sale of freehold Titles. One of the prizes from the Opium War was Great Britain’s occupation of Hong Kong under the Treaty of Nanking. Less than a month before the G20, the Premier of Queensland announced that the case of Hong Kong’s return to China as an example of a successful long term lease.

As Prime Minister of Great Britain, Sir Robert Peel re-pealed the ‘Corn Laws’, which had been designed and maintained to protect the profits from British agriculture alongside widespread starvation and dispossession in Ireland. In 2014, the Australian Chair of the G20 summit in Brisbane will be remembered for repealing the Carbon tax and finding over a quarter of its budget cuts, since coming to office, in its aid budget, which (makes up just over 1% of the overall Federal Government’s budget).   Robert Peel’s creation of the Metropolitan Police is the subject of another post.

While Prime Minister of Great Britain, Charles Grey’s parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. Grey Street links Hope St, via Peel St to Stanley St.   Thomas Dunbabin, in his 1935 publication ‘Slavers of the South Seas’ links Hope St to Stanley St by linking the ‘pioneering’ work of Louis Hope with the ‘blackbirding’ work of Ross Lewin of Stanley St South Brisbane. The following events took place 3 decades after Grey’s Slavery Abolition Act.

“Louis Hope, one of the pioneers of the Queensland sugar industry, secured fifty-four kanakas to work on his plantation. So successful was his experiment that his example was speedily followed. Many small vessels went into the recruiting trade, and by the beginning of 1868 a total of 2017 kanakas had been brought to Queensland.”   (p. 168)

“Ross Lewin made blackbirding a regular business after the completion of his cotton contract with Robert Towns. On 26 April 1867 he published the following advertisement in Brisbane:

 Sugar Planters, Cotton Growers and Others:- Henry Ross Lewin, for many years engaged in trade in the South Sea Islands and practically acquainted with the language and habits of the natives and for the last four years in the employment of Captain Towns, having brought the natives now on Townsvale plantation and superintended them during that time, begs to inform his friends and the public that he intends immediately visiting the South Sea Islands and will be happy to receive orders for the importation of South Sea natives to work on the cotton and sugar plantations now rapidly springing up in this colony.   Parties favouring H.R.L. with orders may rely on having the best and most serviceable natives to be had amongst the islands. Henry Ross Lewin, opposite Donovan’s Railway Hotel , Stanley St South Brisbane.   H.R.L. particularly requires it to be known that he will be ready to start immediately to the islands and intends continuing the trade if he finds it answer. Terms £7 each man.

 Apparently Lewin did find it answer for we find him referred to later as a ‘notorious man stealer’.” (p.165, 166)

The closure of Grey St created a discontinuity. Its re-opening provides the opportunity to regain some continuity.


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