Nuclear Scumbags Awards Tour – Melbourne, 12 November 2014

Friends of the Earth, Melbourne’s Anti-Nuclear and Clean Energy Collective (ACE) held a Nuclear Scumbags tour during a nation-wide week of protests in connection with the G20 summit in Brisbane – Plan B. The tour delivered citations to the offices of the Federal Government, Rio Tinto, the Future Fund, BHP Billiton, GHD Engineering, ending at RMIT, whose current chancellor, Ziggy Switkowski, received a lifetime award…
Ziggy Switkowski's award

The full list of awards:

Australian Government: Radioactive Racism, Lies and Broken Promises
Rio Tinto / Energy Resources of Australia: Reluctant Rehabilitator
Future Fund: Bomb Bankrollers
BHP Billiton: Local Environmental Sustainability and Water Protection
GHD Engineering: Health and Safety at Maralinga
Ziggy Switkowski: Racist Scumbag Long Service Award

Some scenes from the tour:

There are more photos on the ACE Facebook page.

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:

Protest at BHP Billiton AGM, Melbourne Conventions Centre, 17 November 2011

Protesters line up with banners and placards at entrance

Traditional owners and environmentalists descended on the Melbourne Convention Centre for the BHP Billiton AGM. Using proxies, some twenty Aboriginal elders and supporters gained access to the meeting, while others held a protest outside. Friends of the Earth and a collective of environment groups had prepared an ‘alternative’ annual report for the world’s biggest mining company, and copies were handed to shareholders – see BHP Billiton Watch where the report is available for download. The protest, against a backdrop of a giant inflatable radioactive waste drum and Mr Death puppet, was joined by members of Japanese for Peace, and was enlivened by music from the Radical Choir, hip-hop activists MC Ollie and Izzy, plus a visit from No Nuke Calamity Jane (aka Madeline Hudson):

Inflatable radioactive waste barrel
Tomohiro Matsuoka and JFP placard
JFP poster
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Members of the Radical Choir
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Another shot of members of the choir
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The Radical Choir singing beside the barrel
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Izzy

MC Ollie
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Madeline Hudson as No Nukes Calamity Jane
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Occupy Melbourne banner in foreground, Ollie and Izzy plus Mr Death puppet
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Same as preceding
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Mr Death puppet lying on back
Mr Death puppet with JFP placard
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Members of Japanese for Peace next to barrel
Member of JFP with anti-BHP placard

Elders gathering before entering the Centre:
Some of the elders with Kimberley defender Rodney Augustine
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As previous
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Cat Beaton from the Environment Centre NT with elders
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Arabunna elder Peter Watts
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Lining up for the cameras before going in:
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Elders and protesters with placard - Greed unlimited
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Elders, placards read Human Rights are not for sale
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Heading in:
Group of elders and supporters heading for main entrance
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Security at the immediate entrances to the Convention Centre was strict, though the initial strong police presence soon dwindled, and papers were carefully checked before some people were allowed in; others were apparently exempt from this…
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Uncle Kevin’s credentials checked:
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Uncle Kevin shows his papers to police at door
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Same for Peter Watts:
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Peter Watts checked by police at entrance

By contrast:

Delegates in suits ushered in unchecked
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……

It was mid-afternoon before the elders and supporters re-emerged:
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Some of the elders returning to the protest

Though Uncle Kevin and a few others had left earlier:Tully McIntyre of FoE and Tomohiro Matsuoka of JFP gave reports on what had been happening, followed by Uncle Kevin Buzzacott:

By all accounts reception of the traditional owners’ concerns was rude and dismissive, and this applied also to a visitor from Chile, Cristian Milla Curiñanco, here at the invitation of LASNET, who attempted to raise the matter of BHP Billiton’s record in his country (see video at end of this report).
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More photos from the protest:
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bhp billions banner
Cristian, Peter Watts end others with LASNET banner
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Assembled protesters
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Protester in 'protective suit' with danger signs
Notice from police
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Chalked message on pavement - ends Listen to Uncle Kev
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More of Uncle Kevin:
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Uncle Kevin speaking
Same
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With LASNET banner
With Aborginal flag
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Protesters and elders line up at the end:
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Lineup in front of barrel
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Elders and international representatives with flags and banners before barrel
………………………………

The previous evening, Friends of the Earth’s ACE Collective organised a public forum at Trades Hall with traditional owners and campaigners including Dave Sweeney of ACF and Mia Pepper from CCWA - see details on Facebook for this event. The forum was recorded and extracts are in preparation. The following is an address by Chilean activist Cristian Milla Curiñanco, who spoke in Spanish, here interpreted by Lucho Riquelme of LASNET:

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Another speaker was Arrernte activist, artist and writer Mitch from Alice Springs:
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Darcy Harris from Western Australia:
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Mia Pepper from the Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA) spoke about what has been happening in Western Australia and introduced the new BHP Alternative Annual Report, which was due to be distributed to shareholders at the AGM next day:

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:

Occupy Melbourne ctd – Day 6 and march on BHP Billiton – 20 October 2011

Protesters lined up with banners and placards in front of BHP head office
(It would be advisable to visit the Occupy Melbourne website and related media for the current situation, which is unclear at time of writing …)

Added 8.25am Friday 21 October: according to an Occupy Melbourne media release, notice to leave was served this morning at 6.58am with a deadline of 9am. Melbourne Protests will not be able to get there in time, but no doubt others will…

While preparations for the march were under way there was some police activity in evidence: uniformed and plain clothes officers and even two gentlemen in white shirts, but no indication of imminent action against the occupation, in spite of claims in the tabloid press (eg Lord Mayor gives notice to Occupy Melbourne protesters Herald Sun October 20, 2011 10:59AM) This evening has seen a media release from the occupation:

MEDIA RELEASE – 5:30pm THURSDAY OCTOBER 20th 2011
Victoria Police Speak to OM Protestors
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inspector Bernie Jackson of the Melbourne East police station this afternoon met with Occupy Melbourne protestors today to discuss a potential eviction scenario.

Jackson stressed that Victoria Police does not have the authority on its own to prosecute the eviction, and instead will wait for Melbourne City Council’s instructions on how to proceed.

Inspector Jackson said that once an eviction notice had been served, a “reasonable time” would be given for protestors to voluntarily vacate City Square. “Reasonable time will be given in hours, as in a number of hours,” said Jackson. He qualified: “it’s not going to be in the middle of the night.”

Inspector Jackson further discussed Victoria Police’s likely course of action should an eviction order be issued. When the police arrive on site, protestors will be again asked to leave voluntarily. Anyone who refuses to leave will be forcibly removed from City Square by police officers.

Inspector Jackson told the crowd that he was satisfied with the current state of relations between police and the Occupy Melbourne protestors.

Inspector Jackson’s statement will be discussed at the nightly General Assembly, to be held at 6pm this evening on the north side of City Square.

Jackson was challenged by a number of vocal members of the crowd, including Indigenous activist Robbie Thorpe.

Mr Thorpe asked Jackson: “If the by-laws [relating to the Summary Offences Act’s powers for eviction] relate to the Aboriginal people and if so, how?”

Inspector Jackson responded that the police force was required to follow the directions of the Melbourne City Council with regard to the eviction of protestors.

Mr Thorpe later told Occupy Melbourne’s media liaison team that any eviction notice served on the protestors is likely to be immediately challenged in the courts.

http://occupymelbourne.org/media-releases/

Plain clothes and uniformed police at the occupationWhite-collar police
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One protester made a valiant attempt to engage some of the police in a hug, but with no takers:
Protester offering free hugs to police

Otherwise, life appeared to be carrying on normally, with some taking a rather late breakfast (or early lunch):
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Dog in tent eating from plate

The march to BHP set off at a quick march, escorted by about ten police, to chants of ‘BHP BP Shell/ You can all/Go to hell’ and ‘System Change not Climate Change’ amongst others:
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March setting off led by anti-BHP banners
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Head of march - banner 'BHP Billiton undermining your future'
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Banner - 'Bloody Huge Profits'
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There were even more police waiting at the BHP Billiton offices:

Police at BHP office entranceLong line of uniformed police across BHP office frontage
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The protest was organised by Friends of the Earth ACE collective, who had managed to prevail upon Dr Death to attend, standing in for BHP CEO Marius Kloppers:
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Puppet skeleton with gleaming white skullPuppet skeleton with FoE ACE members
Madeline Hudson of FoE ACE read a message sent by Arabunna elder Uncle Kevin Buzzacott to the BHP shareholders at the AGM in London, calling on them to reverse the decision to expand the Olympic Dam mine and instead spend their money on something better, and later wrapped up the protest with a rendering of ‘Eat the Rich’ in her character of No-Nukes Calamity Jane:
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Madeline Hudson speakingMadeline as No-Nukes Calamity Jane

Jim Green from Friends of the Earth and Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation also spoke, the latter quoting from a letter sent by Yvonne Margarula of the Mirrar people to UN secretary-general Ban ki-Moon after the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant – fuelled with uranium from Mirrar traditional lands (the text of this letter can be read here). There were also brief addresses from Ben Courtice, Friends of the Earth Renewable Energy Campaigner, Lucho from LASNET, regarding the activities of mining companies in Colombia and Chile, and Susannah, on the proposed gas hub in the Kimberley (see earlier posts on this site, eg here):
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Susannah addressing the protest
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Jim Green speakingDave Sweeney speaking
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Dave Sweeney and protester occupying road
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There was yellow-cake on offer, and leaflets for passers-by:
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Handing out pieces of 'yellow-cake'Handing a leaflet to a passer-by
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The remaining photos are probably self-explanatory. BHP Billiton will be holding its Australian AGM in Melbourne on 17 November, and it will be surprising if there are not protests in Melbourne to mark that occasion also…

See also BHP Billiton Watch.

A shortened version of this report which appears on Melbourne Indymedia, includes two brief media clips that could not be posted here.
…………..

Aboriginal flag in front of BHP office main entrance
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Banner - BHP out of Colombia, Chile
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Reflection of protest in glass ceiling of foyer
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Toxic Traders - banner
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Placard linking BHP and Fukushima
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Puppet of skeleton with skullPuppet of skeleton with skull
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Banners at end of protest
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Another view of banners at end of protest
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Another view of final lineup
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Added 22 October: YouTube video by Jessie Boylan -

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.
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