People’s Climate March, Melbourne – 21 September 2014 – photos only.

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Melbourne led the way on a grand scale with an estimated turnout of 30,000 marchers. The event began at the State Library with music, dancing and speakers, including a welcome to country. The march down Swanston Street to the Treasury Gardens via Bourke Street seemed to go on for ever… More speakers and music at the gardens, as well as stalls representing a range of organisations. Reports have appeared on SBS and The Age. We are not in a position to add to these so this post must be restricted to photos, grouped under the rally, the march, and the end (though speeches and other activities were still in full swing when we left, about 1pm).

At the State Library:

On the march:

At the end:

‘March in March’ – the Melbourne Rally and March, 16 March 2014

Melbourne responded to the callout (see http://marchinmarchaustralia.org/ and the Melbourne march Facebook page) with one of the largest rallies since the 2003 protests against the war in Iraq. Figures varied widely, as usual, but we are rather inclined to the upper end of the claims, or towards 50,000. It was also one of the most varied, and in recognition of this we are posting the largest selection of images so far on this site for one event. There is also a choice of thumbnail/gallery or slideshow, the latter comprising lower resolution copies. It may be in order to post a few separately:

Part of crowd at start of rally

A very small part of the rally at the State Library

Black and red flag

The holder of this flag told us it was 45 years old – dating back to moratorium days

Placard in German - 'These crimes, your blame'

International contribution

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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:

Stop HRL Protest – Treasury Place, Melbourne, 11 April 2011

Banner at Treasury Place - 'Don't fund more coal power'

The Stop HRL collective called a rally at Federation Square for 9.30am on Monday 11 April, but what they didn’t announce was that a number of activists would be attempting to occupy a Government building at that time …

The same banner at Federation Square

Setting up for the 'Rally at Federation Square'

So the event began as a rally setting up at Federation Square, but almost at once the word came to march up to Treasury Place, where five activists were now locked on to a steel ladder in the foyer of No 1, which houses both State and Federal offices. They had entered without hindrance and were now refusing to leave until their demands were met, including a halt to funding for a new coal-fired power station in the LaTrobe Valley, and the redirection of the money towards developing renewable energy sources.

Some of the activists were successful in getting an unscheduled meeting with Energy Minister Michael O’Brien – at one point it was reported that Victorian Government business had come to a halt because the whole cabinet was holed up inside the building unable to leave – though in the event he was not in any mind to give the required commitments.In terms of media interest generated, however, the action was an overwhelming success, and surely laid a basis for wider community involvement. There is a survey of media coverage on the StopHRL website, and a gallery of photos from the day at http://www.flickr.com/photos/61659025@N02/.

Once outside the building, the rally heard from a succession of speakers: Dr Merryn Redenbach for Stop HRL, Julien Vincent from Greenpeace, Naomi Hogan of Rising Tide Newcastle), Vivien Langford of Beyond Zero Emissions, and Drew Hutton of Lock the Gate, as well as updates via mobile phone from the people inside. There was also music from the Riff Raff Radical Marching Band from Sydney, and long-term activist comedian Rod Quantock was a welcome guest speaker, followed by a members of the rally taking advantage of the open mic. There was a long wait, and the police line had to be relieved at lunchtime, which meant that Beyond Zero Emissions representatives had an opportunity to repeat their presentation of the technology of solar-thermal baseload generation for the benefit of those who had missed out the first time round. It was reported at one point that the minister had agreed to come down and meet the protesters in view of the rally, but this was later withdrawn, and eventually there was agreement that he would meet three in his office, and the others would leave, along with supporters who had kept them company inside. The whole process lasted the best part of four and a half hours, and the five certainly deserved every cheer they received when they emerged.

The media summary on StopHRL includes links to TV footage, but longer excerpts from the speeches and other parts of the action will be posted here shortly.* There is also a report on Melbourne Indymedia, sourced from Friends of the Earth and others.

From the callout:

The company HRL is planning a new coal-fired power station in Victoria, and the state & federal governments have committed $150 million towards it. This money should be funding Victoria’s future renewable energy industries.

Over the last couple of months the Stop HRL campaign has been building community awareness and preparing to mobilise in the likely event that the EPA approves this new power station. The latest news is that this application process has been dragging on because the EPA requested more information from HRL before completed their assessment, and HRL has been very slow in providing this information – the EPA is still waiting.

The Stop HRL collective was originally planning to respond once the EPA had approved the project, but this delay has enabled us to go on the front foot.

This coming weekend, the 3rd annual national grassroots climate summit is on in Melbourne (which we highly recommend – check out the program & RSVP here: http://www.climatesummit.org.au). As part of this summit, climate activists will be coming from across Australia to join our protest.

The action will be the culmination of the national grassroots climate action summit.

It will be a rally with a range of impressive speakers. And to kick off our media campaign, some people will take peaceful, dignified and inspiring direct action close to the rally to highlight the strength of community commitment to stop this proposal.

Please sign up to our contact list at http://www.stophrl.org, forward to your local group members and ask at least one friend or colleague to sign up too.

Drew Hutton speaking

Drew Hutton of Lock the Gate

Activists in foyer seen through window

Shaun Murray, sitting, and others locked on to ladder

Activist fronting the media outside the building

Media interviews afterwards

*

Stop HRL banner - link to video

Click here for video

Put a Price on Pollution – rally 12 March 2011

With a crowd of up to eight thousand answering the call from GetUp for a counter-protest to match the ‘people’s revolt’ advocated by climate deniers led by Tony Abbott* and backed by assorted right-wing radio shock-jocks, there was no real contest: estimates of the turnout at Julia Gillard’s electorate office in Werribee ranged from two to four hundred …

The response in Melbourne apparently went beyond the organisers’ expectations, and the sound system hardly reached to the middle, let alone the back of the crowd.The speakers, for those who could hear them, were Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation, who was also MC, Ged Kearney, President of the ACTU, Lucy Manne of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and Simon Sheikh, National Director of the GetUp team. Music was provided by Skylines.

The crowd ranged from almost newborn to elderly, drawn from a range of groups and organisations as well as concerned individuals, many of whom brought their own placards and props; there were also plenty to borrow for the occasion.

The photos mostly speak for themselves. There is a brief report on Melbourne Indymedia, even briefer ones on ACF online and the AYCC Facebook page, and the Sydney Morning Herald carried a report on the day. Worth a look also is the ACTU position on jobs and climate change – – which gives the gist of Ged Kearney’s speech at the rally.

Here is the callout from GetUp:

Right wing shock jock Chris Smith said last week on MTR radio: “I’ll do my best on a daily basis to spread the word”. We don’t have a radio network to promote our rally, but GetUp members have proved before that, when it counts, we’re willing to publicly show how much we care about clean energy & climate action.

Click here to RSVP

I was in Canberra last week and almost every politician and journalist I met with talked to me about the anti-climate action rallies. They’re spooked. I assured them that the campaign for climate action was just as strong — and now, we need to demonstrate this.

That’s why it’s so important we join together for a few hours this Saturday March 12 — not to have a louder, angrier rally, but to show the difference in both size and tone. While they’re shouting their angry slogans and misinformation, on the other side of Melbourne we’ll hold a positive, family-friendly gathering to stand up for our vision for clean energy and preserving a safe climate for our kids.

With your help, we’ll prove there are more of us than there are of them and in doing so we’ll make a powerful statement.

See you this Saturday.

Simon Sheikh
National Director
for the GetUp team

Simon Sheikh speaking

Simon Sheikh of GetUp

To which Environment Victoria added:

Right now, Australia’s climate deniers, right-wing shock jocks and big polluters are jumping on board the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s scare campaign against a price on carbon.
They’re trying to stop action on climate change by frightening people with misinformation and scaremongering. And they’re planning anti-carbon tax rallies across the country – starting this weekend – to frighten our politicians into further delay.
We can’t allow them to get away with this unchallenged. It’s time for us to draw a line in the sand, and show our politicians and the general public just how strong support really is for climate action, clean energy and a price on pollution.
If ever there was a time to take a stand, it’s now.
Join us this Saturday along with supporters including GetUp, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition to send a message loud and clear that Australians want climate action and a strong price on pollution now.

*Several Tony Abbott clones in budgie smugglers invaded the rally at one point – see photos below

Dave Sweeney speaking

Dave Sweeney of the ACF

Ged Kearney speaking

Ged Kearney of the ACTU

Lucy Manne speaking

Lucy Manne of AYCC

Skylines

Skylines

Protestor with placards - 'Grow Up Mr Abbott'
'No More Mindless Opposition'
Placard - 'Denialist Shock Jocks Don't Speak for Me'
Anti-Hazelwood windmill

Code Red Climate Emergency banner

Modified 'Age of Stupid' poster with head of Tony AbbottVegan banners

Banner - 'We [heart] Climate Action'DogAnother dog

Woman with small children listening to speeches

Children with banner - 'Country kids want action!'

Photo of child - 'His Future - Climate Action'Greenpeace placard on pole beneath No standing sign - Ministerial Vehicles Excepted

Tony Abbott clones invade the rally

Tony Abbott clone with placard - 'Libs 4 Famine Fire + Flood'

Because of the location it was hard to capture an image of the whole rally at once, so here are several shots that taken together may give an idea:

Overview 1Overview 2

Overview 3

Overview 4

Overview 4
The rally spilled over on to the adjoining park:

Children in park with banner - 'Fossil Fuels are for Fossils'

Woman in crowd arriving - placard reads 'I'm supporting the carbon tax because I actually care about out planet and our kids' future'

People signing a petition at one of several stallsPlacards for renewables and against coal

'Ladies for Low Carbs' ...

Turtles against Climate Change ...

Rally to Replace ALL of Hazelwood – 6 November 2010

Several thousand people rallied on Saturday to demand the total closure of Hazelwood and protest at the Brumby government’s continued weakness in the face of the coal lobby. There are reports on Melbourne Indymedia, including links to a transcript of the speech of David Karoly, one of the speakers; on the website of Environment Victoria, which organised the event (see also the Hazelwood campaign website); and on the website of the Socialist Alternative, who had a large presence.

Apart from Professor Karoly and MC Victoria McKenzie-McHarg of Environment Victoria, the rally was addressed by Dean Bridgfoot of MASG ( Mount Alexander Sustainability Group)(see http://www.castlemaineindependent.org/category/climate-change/), which was one of the climate action groups around the state invited to create the eight tall ‘smoke stacks’ which were carried through the streets and finally toppled outside Parliament House by very loud popular demand, following an upbeat address by Cam Walker of Friends of the Earth. (FoE’s ACE (Anti-Nuclear and Clean Energy) collective also arranged for Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson to be represented, along with his baby bottle … see photos below.)

Photos from the rally and march:

David Karoly speaking - Replace Hazelwood placard behind

Professor David Karoly

Victoria McKenzie-McHarg

Victoria McKenzie-McHarg of Environment Victoria

Dean Bridgfoot speaking

Dean Bridgfoot

'Green Monster' costume

The 'Green Monster' threatening the major parties...

Two of the 'smoke stacks' close

Closeup of two of the 'smoke stacks'

Kids leading the march

These three had a good time posing for the camera ...

Closeup of same kids

'Families facing Climate Change'

Banner of Doctors for the Environment Australia

Doctors for the Environment Australia http://www.dea.org.au/

'Martin Ferguson' with radioactive baby bottle - placard reads 'time to grow up...'

Martin Ferguson with his bottle ...

Personifications of renewable energy sources play ball with the earth, watched by 'Martin Ferguson'

He stops to watch renewable energy sources playing ball

Same as above, joined by 'coal man' representing Hazelwood

... and perhaps undergoes a conversion?

Clown on stilts - 'Stop clowning with brown coal'

The crowd at Parliament House - the 'smoke stracks' on steps

The 'smoke stacks' lined up on the steps of Parliament House

The stacks collapse

The people gave the word, and the smoke stacks collapsed...

Cam Walker speaking at Parliament House

Cam Walker of Friends of the Earth

The above photos and others in a slideshow on YouTube:

‘No New Coal, Fund renewable energy’ – protest at Premier’s office, Melbourne 18 October

Overview of rally

(A version of this report on Melbourne Indymedia includes mp3 audio files of the main speakers.)

Melbourne’s Cross Campus Environment Network (CCEN) organised a rally on Monday outside the office of Premier John Brumby in opposition to energy company HRL’s plans to build a new coal-fired power station in the Latrobe Valley. Apart from a range of speakers condemning the plan, in the interests of fair play they also invited a representative of the company to answer objections…

Dan Musil of CCEN, the Victorian branch of ASEN, the Australian Student Environment Network, was MC, and began proceedings by acknowledging Aboriginal sovereignty. He went on summarise the reasons for the protest, plans to build a new coal-fired power station at a time when much of the existing infrastructure was reaching then end of its life, and with both state and federal governments preparing to allocate large sums of taxpayers’ money towards the project. This would lock the country into dependency on coal for decades instead of investing in renewable energy sources.

First speaker was Victoria McKenzie-McHarg of Environment Victoria, who was both delighted to see so many people present, a sign of widespread community feeling against the project, but also disappointed that there should be a need to be there at all. Climate change was recognised around the world as one of the greatest challenges humanity had ever faced; we know what is happening, and that coal is the driving force. And yet we are facing the prospect of a new coal-fired power station in Victoria. She poured scorn on the idea that a power station pumping an additional 4.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year could be described as ‘clean’. The Environment Protection Agency had been overwhelmed by 4000 submissions from the public, the vast majority in opposition.
Victoria from Environment Victoria

After detailing the Brumby government’s involvement in the project, and the delays it had experienced, she went on to point out that ‘this power station, if it goes ahead, will wipe out any pollution cuts that we gain through Premier Brumby’s announcement to replace the equivalent of a quarter of Hazelwood Power Station, our dirtiest power station.’

Finally, with reference to the coming election, she suggested that not only could the people, the taxpayers, not afford this new power station, but neither could a government that was struggling to hold on the seats in inner-city Melbourne …

Next was Erland Howden of Greenpeace:

Erland from Greenpeace speaking

HRL and another 11 coal-fired power staions around the country were a threat to the clean, renewable-energy future that everyone present believed in. Taken together, these stations would be locking the country into 39 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions for the next 30 or more years, at the same time locking us out of a renewable-energy future. This was a failure of state and federal government. Another issue was the fact that the big 4 banks provided most of the finance for the existing coal-fired power stations, and are on the brink of providing the finance for these new ones – in fact using our money to finance this polluting form of power. Greenpeace had started a new campaign to stop these stations by cutting the finance – see http://www.greenpeace.org.au/climate/

Pablo Brait from Beyond Zero Emissions was the next speaker:

Pablo speaking

He echoed Victoria’s sentiments about the insanity of the station, seeing the project as a failure of leadership on the part of the state and federal governments alike, a failure of courage to stand up to the big polluters and to articulate the kind of future we need. He mentioned the proposal by the Bolivian government to set up a ‘climate crime tribunal’ similar to the International Criminal Court, to try business and government leaders ‘who either through action or inaction cause the climate crisis to worsen. Wouldn’t it be something if instead of us standing here protesting, with the police guarding us, we’d be standing here watching the police go into Brumby’s office and drag him away in handcuffs?’ [Loud applause] Preparing and funding of new coal-fired power stations would be pretty high up on a list of crimes that worsen the climate crisis. This decision was made all the worse because there are alternatives to coal – see http://beyondzeroemissions.org/zero-carbon-australia-2020 It was not only possible to supply all needs from renewable sources within 10 years, but doing so would also be good for jobs, would in fact double the number of people working in the energy sector – permanent jobs in addition to extra jobs in the construction stage – and still more in related manufacturing. Regarding the upcoming election, it was our task to ensure that the public are informed, and that no-one votes for a party or candidate who supports the HRL project.

“Carlo Collodi” from HRL introduced himself: ‘I’m here today to dispell the myth that you can’t polish a turd’ –

"Carlo' Collodi" with the 'clean-coal machine'

He expressed thanks to Premier Brumby for allowing him to demonstrate HRL’s coal cleaning machine in front of his office. ‘We at HRL are very good friends with Premier Brumby. In fact, so close we actually slept together last night. Now, some would call that legal prostitution [?]*; in the industry we call it lobbying.”

*[A reader of Melbourne Indymedia has suggested that what Carlo said was ‘political prostitution’, which certainly would make better sense.]

Here he demonstrated how ‘clean black coal’ comes out of the machine:

Removing 'clean black coal' from the machine

The coal-cleaning machine can be seen in action at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QK5O9O93-A

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Brian Walters speaking

Brian Walters of the Greens put the question, which are we going to choose, carrying on as we have done for the last fifty, sixty or a hundred years, an unsustainable future, or are we going to choose a sustainable, carbon-positive future which creates jobs and industry which could be the envy of the world? It was not leadership, to wait for the rest of the world to act and let our renewable jobs and industry go overseas. We need to retool our economy here in Victoria for the kind of future we want for our children and grandchildren.’Coal is perfectly clean … so long as it remains in the ground. There is no such thing as clean-coal power.’ This project was costing us not only a lot of money, it was costing us our future.

Last speaker was Jasmine Ali of the Melbourne University Climate Action Working Group:

Jasmine speaking

Climate change was not just an issue about future generations; the impact is wreaking havoc across the world – floods in Pakistan, fires in Russia were examples. The Australian government had done absolutely nothing, even expanding the very same technologies which had caused the problem. She raised the matter of the Solar Systems factory, the most advanced of its kind in Australia, which the Brumby government had been prepared to allow to go to waste for lack of investment capital rather than apply government funds to save it. At the federal level, since the election, all the measures that we know are needed had been quietly pushed into the background in favour of the one ‘solution’ of a carbon price, which was not going to stop the HRL plant going ahead. In this context it was encouraging that the ACTU had put a ban on the construction of a waste dump on Aboriginal land at Muckaty Station. This was an example of the way to go to stop construction of the project.

More photos:

Banners including 'Labor in the pocket of Big Coal'

Dan and Jasmine with banner 'Coal is a Dead End ...'

Members of Yarra Climate Action Now with placard

Greens placards

More placards, including No Desalination Plant!

Links:

CCEN – http://ccen.wordpress.com/
Environment Victoria – http://www.environmentvictoria.org.au/
Greenpeace Australia – http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/
Beyond Zero Emissions – http://beyondzeroemissions.org/
Greens Victoria – http://vic.greens.org.au/

Video from the action: