Protest at Baillieu government’s regressive policies on renewable energy in Victoria – 29 September 2011

Monster power plug and cord

Premier Baillieu has pulled the plug on renewables in Victoria

There were protests today in Melbourne,Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo at the Baillieu government’s policies on renewable energy development in Victoria, with the slashing of the solar feed tariff and prohibitive restrictions on the location of new wind farms:

The laws give landholders the right to veto any wind development within 2 km of a dwelling and ban them completely within 5km from regional cities. Other whole regions like the Macedon Ranges are excluded from any wind farm developments.

“We don’t know of any more restrictive laws on wind farms in the world” Courtice said.

“Baillieu is currently approving extensions to coal mines less than 2km from residential areas. All Victoria’s coalmines are inside the exclusion zones where you can’t build wind farms. This is not what Victorians want in the 21st century.”
(FoE media release)

The protest in Melbourne was at Parliament House, and featured a gigantic power plug, which MC Ellen Roberts of Friends of the Earth assured us had been dumped earlier by the Premier and Energy Minister Michael O’Brien … There was also a good turnout of turbines, banners and placards. Speakers were Ben Courtice from FoE, Mick Lewin from the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group, Steve Dargavel, AMWU state secretary, and Mark Wakeham of Environment Victoria.
See report also on Yes to Renewable Energy.

Anti-Gillard protests at Park Hyatt in Melbourne – 28 September 2011

Protesters at main entrance to hotel

Same-sex marriage and refugee activists were the main groups protesting outside the Park Hyatt hotel in Melbourne today when Prime Minister Julia Gillard was delivering a speech to a lunch of the AsiaLink and Asia Society. The main beneficiaries of the protest speeches and chants, however, were probably the large numbers of uniformed and undercover/plainclothes police on duty: however she entered the building it is certain she avoided a face-to-face meeting with the 200 or so protesters. (See report in Sydney Morning Herald. By avoiding the protest Ms Gillard deprived herself of a present some had been planning to give her for her 50th birthday on Thursday – see image below.)
Protester hold up a placard with a red heart - a birthday present for Julia Gillard

The protest assembled outside the main entrance and moved back and forth between there and the side entrances. At each stop there were speakers and chants, alternating between the two main issues. In addition to speakers from Equal Love and the Refugee Action Collective the protest heard from Carl Katter, half-brother of anti-gay Independent MP Bob Katter, and Malaysian refugee activist Angeline Loh, who surprised even experienced campaigners with the revelation that the ‘protections’, such as they would be, for asylum seekers transferred to Malaysia under the swap deal would only last until the asylum seekers were assessed by UNHCR to be refugees, at which point they would become illegal immigrants under Malaysian law, and subject to the same treatment refugees experience there…

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The weather took a hand not long after Julia Gillard’s presumed arrival, and the protest wound up at about 12.45.

More on Walmadan – September 24 and 27, Melbourne

Campaign supporters line up with candles on steps of Victorian Parliament
Melbourne supporters of the campaign against the Woodside gas hub project at Walmadan/James Price Point in WA have continued their activities: last Saturday saw the second Community Gathering at Northcote Uniting Church, organised by Walmadan is Calling, and last night there was a candlelight vigil at the Victorian Parliament House, organised by United Peoples of Australia.

Immediately before the vigil there was also an info night at Kindness House in Fitzroy, and many attended both events. It was a moonless night and the weather was kind:

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The Community Gathering was less fortunate, at least as regards the weather: it was cold and blustery outside for the first part of proceedings, an acknowledgment of traditional owners and smoking ceremony, followed by speakers and music. Later in the evening the bands took over inside the church.
Video of the gathering can be seen on EngageMedia here, or on YouTube:

In addition to her message to the protesters at Walmadan, Alex Bhathal also announced an initiative to hold Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson accountable to the people of his electorate of Batman, in which the gathering took place and where she and many of those involved live. For details of a petition to Federal Parliament which voters in the electorate were and are invited to sign, follow this link.
MC for the occasion was Kim Murata, who also joined Marie Casanova and Dandelion Jackson on stage. As well, Elijah Augustine and other members of his family plus Tim Parry of what is now the Melbourne branch of Save the Kimberley got people dancing with a rendering of Stompin Ground; Greg Thorpe sang a song for the Kimberley written in collaboration with Rodney Augustine; Tim Parry shared a song he wrote while up at the blockade. Inside the church there were performances by Jessie Lloyd and the Sunshine Sisters, The Promises, and
Captain Groove followed by Lamarama to wrap things up. Snippets of all this on the accompanying video.