No Coal Exports Rally – 10 December 2013

View of protest from top of Bourke Street

Environment Victoria called a rally to protest at plans to extend Victoria’s highly polluting brown coal industry:

WHAT: Rally to say no to a polluting new coal export industry for Victoria

WHEN: 1:00-1:45pm, Tuesday, 10 December

WHERE: Steps of Parliament House, cnr Bourke and Spring Sts

WHY: The Victorian government is on the verge of allocating billions of tonnes of brown coal to the coal industry to kick-start a polluting new coal export industry.

Instead of squeezing the last drops out of a polluting resource, we want clean, safe energy, for a clean, safe climate. So let’s tell the government we don’t want to be part of the problem.

Join us with Friends of the Earth Australia, Quit Coal, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, 350.org Australia on the steps of Parliament House, Tuesday 10 December to say no to brown coal allocations and brown coal exports.

Confusion surrounding train timetables meant we missed the first half hour of the forty-five minute rally, but we were able at least to catch the moment when the “no” slogan on the placards lining the steps of Parliament House was switched to the “yes” one for renewables:

Placards spelling "No Coal Allocation"

Became:

Placards spelling "Yes to Renewable"

There is more background to the issue on the Protect Victoria page of the Environment Victoria website:

[...]

The Victorian and Federal governments have each committed half of a $90 million pool of money to support new coal projects in Victoria. It’s called the Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program (ALDP), and already coal companies are lining up around the block to get their hands on it. From what has been reported in the media , it’s clear that the companies putting up their hand for taxpayer subsidies are all interested in coal exports.

At the same time, the Napthine Government is considering allocating another 13 billion tonnes of coal to prospective miners in the Latrobe Valley . This would be bad news for our environment, the community and the diversity of the Latrobe Valley economy. We’ve successfully delayed the allocation twice, but the government has announced that they will make a decision on whether to proceed or not by the end of the year.

Previous government allocations have promised the earth in jobs and investment but delivered nothing. And yet the Victorian Government now wants to do it all over again.

If it goes ahead, the impact on our state will be devastating.

Up to 33 billion tonnes of brown coal could be handed over to coal companies to be dug up, hauled by trucks and trains across the state, and shipped from new ports in protected marine zones to China and India where it would ultimately be burnt.

[...]

More photos from the rally:

Farmers against Fracking – march and rally 18 August 2013

The country came to the city on Sunday 18 August as part of the campaign against plans to extract coal seam gas in Victoria, risking the destruction of prime agricultural land in the process.
Here is part of a report circulated by Quit Coal, which helped organise the event (see also the Facebook event page):

…here’s the low-down of what happened – hundreds of farmers and locals from Gippsland and rural Victoria descended on Melbourne, joining their city supporters to march the streets. Colour, costume, chanting and tunes were a-plenty as the protesters, led by the Riff Raff Radical marching band, passionately paraded, demanding a total ban on all new coal and unconventional gas projects in Victoria. MC Rod Quantock kicked things off at the State Library before speeches from Gippsland locals, including beef farmer Tanya Brown and Seaspray primary school teacher Kirra Boulton.

A 10,000 signature petition was then presented to Greg Barber MLC, who is tabling it in Parliament today. We got some great media coverage on ABC and Channel 7 news, multiple radio stations, ABC online and importantly in local Gippsland media!* In fact, our voices were even too loud for Energy and Resources Minister, Nick Kotsiras, to ignore. In response to the rally, he promised he would undertake extensive community consultations before making a decision on lifting the current moratorium on fracking in Victoria. This means that the moratorium may remain in place for months to come, giving us a crucial window to build mass awareness, momentum and pressure both in the city and in regional Victoria.

Sunday marked a massive step forward for the growing Australia-wide movement against the expansion of coal and gas mining. It brought the issue close to home for city dwellers, raising awareness that this is not just an issue affecting locals who live close to mine sites, but that techniques like fracking pose great risk of contaminating Melbourne’s water and food supply, not to mention the broader impacts that coal and gas mining have on climate change.

*See also http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2013/08/19/579926_politics-news.html

This YouTube features the march in the rain up Swanston Street from the old City Square to the State Library, and excerpts from the speeches delivered by representatives of the farming communities, Quit Coal, and Greens MLC Greg Barber:

December 13 – Ferguson the “Fossil Fool” and other matters

So the break didn’t really happen. Last Friday, December 9th, there was the Occupy Melbourne Kids and Carers “Dare to Share” Teddy Bear Protest (http://indymedia.org.au/2011/12/10/occupy-melbournes-dare-to-share-teddy-bears-protest – video at end of this post); then on Saturday 10th there was the Tent Monsters’ (Re-)Occupation of Melbourne (http://indymedia.org.au/2011/12/11/tentmonster-parade-and-march-in-melbourne – see also at end of this post); on Monday Santa and his reindeer borrowed the 7-seater “Bikezilla” to bring the Quit Coal message to Christmas crowds in the Bourke Street Mall (http://quitcoal.org.au/blog/); and this morning Federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson would have faced a picket at the Hilton Hotel on Wellington Parade if he had used the front entrance:

Protesters line up with 'no coal' and 'clean solar' placards outside hotel

The occasion was a meeting of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia which Minister Ferguson was to address. Failing contact with him, protesters handed leaflets to delegates arriving, where necessary blocking the path of vehicles to ensure their occupants got the message directly:

Delegates being handed leaflets after leaving their taxisCars stopped at the picket line

The protest was organised jointly by members of Climate Action Now groups from Darebin and Yarra living within the minister’s electorate of Batman.

Protesters with placards - 'Fossil Fool Martin' and 'All I want for Xmas is Big Solar'

Clean Solar placards on display

 'HRL' model emitting 'smoke'





Going Backwards under Baillieu – protest at Parliament House, Melbourne, 13 November 2011

Environmentalists gathered at Parliament House to protest at the Baillieu government’s retrogressive policies, symbolised by a backwards march down Spring Street to the Treasury Gardens, where they were welcomed by members of Occupy Melbourne. Before setting off, they heard speakers including Mark Wakeham of Environment Victoria, one of the groups organising the event, along with the Victorian National Parks Association, The Wilderness Society, and Friends of the Earth; Kate Tubbs, Bacchus Marsh teacher and farmer defending her farm from coal-mining;Luke Chamberlain, Victorian Forest Campaigner, The Wilderness Society; Cam Walker, Campaigns Coordinator, Friends of the Earth; and Matt Ruchel, Executive Director, Victorian National Parks Association. There is a report by Takver on Melbourne Indymedia and photos on the FoE Flickr Photostream. See also http://www.melbourne.foe.org.au/?q=node/1024 and http://www.environmentvictoria.org.au/media/backwards-march-urges-baillieu-government-change-direction-environment

Mark Wakeham began proceedings by listing the ‘shocking decisions’ the Baillieu government
had made, inviting the rally to ‘vote’ by boos to select the worst. The list ranged form the return of cows to the Alpine National Park, support and approval for the new HRL coal-fired power station, through extending the duck hunting season, logging the habitat of endangered species, imposing crippling restrictions on the building of wind farms, and so on and so on. See further http://www.environmentvictoria.org.au/blog/posts/baillieu-government

Kate Tubbs recounted how there had been no objections to the mining exploration at Bacchus Marsh, simply because no-one in the are had known anything about it: “There are 29000 people in the Moorabool shire, and not one person objected against this exploration licence, because we did not know it was happening… The stealth stunned us. I was the first one to find out because they actually needed to come on to our land and I had refused…” (See article in The Age and Moorabool environment group website)

Cam Walker discussed the government’s wrecking of the wind energy program in Victoria. Wind energy was one of ‘only two so-called environment policies which the Coalition had brought to the last election, and they had implemented it in its entirety, which was entirely bad news for Victoria. He saw it as clearly based on political deals and ideology and not on common sense, not on good science and certainly not on best practice management of anything. (There is a detailed analysis of the implications of the Baillieu government’s wind energy policies on the FoE website – What is the real cost of Ted Baillieu’s wind energy policy? ) He was loudly applauded when he said that under the Baillieu government’s policies we would have no more community wind farms, and for his own part, he would rather a community cooperative owned his energy and sold it to him rather than International Power down at Hazlewood…

Matt Ruchel stressed Victoria’s unique richness in terrestrial and marine species ‘but it’s also one of the most stressed places in Australia’. Many scientific reports over the last 20 years had shown that Victoria had a high number of threatened species, with very little native vegetation left compared with other places around the country. ‘But what we’ve seen in the last 12 months is a real concerning trend – the first act almost of the Baillieu government when they came to power was to essentially sneak cattle back into the Alpine National Park in January last year’ [subsequently blocked by the federal government]. He went on to list massive expansion into the green Wedges -‘the lungs of Melbourne, but also some of the last remaining areas of grassland, the most endangered ecosystem in the country’ with as little as 1% left; attacks on the national parks, emending red gum legislation and abolishing the ban on collecting firewood. See further http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-09-22/anger-over-firewood-collection-plan/2911004 and generally on the VPNA website.

Luke Chamberlain dealt with the government’s record in the forests: ‘About two months ago .. the Baillieu state government, through its logging apparatus VicForests, sent the bulldozers into Leadbeater’s [possum] habitat (http://leadbeaters.org.au/)and started trashing the forest at Sylvia Creek outside Toolangi (loud boos). (See eg report in Green Left Weekly). These forests, he said, were special, they were the last home for a myriad of endangered species, this particular area was one the small amount of forest that did not get burnt during the 2009 fires … See more on the website of the Wilderness society and here.

Excerpts from the speeches on YouTube:

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.
.