By Hayley Hands
ANU students joined a group of over 700 people in Garema Place on Friday to protest Scott Morrison’s leadership during the bushfire crisis. The protest also called on the Government to “fund the firies” and act on the “climate emergency”.
The protest was organised by the group ‘Uni Students for Climate Justice’, and was held simultaneously with strikes in capital cities and regional centres across Australia. Members of the Socialist Alternative (SAlt), United Firefighters Union ACT (UFU), the Greens and Unions ACT gave speeches addressing Scott Morrison’s failure to act on climate issues and to properly fund recovery efforts.
Environment Officer and SAlt member Grace Hill opened and led the rally. She stated that “the response from the government to this crisis has been absolutely appalling”, and that the protest was part of “a national protest around the country” by people who “will not put up with this state of affairs for one moment longer”. Hill led chants including “no more coal, no more oil, keep the carbon in the soil” and “Scomo has got to go”.SAlt and Environment Collective member Kenya Matsebula also spoke, stating that Scott Morrison is “running the country for economic dominance” .
Greg McConville, the national president of the UFU, then led a moment of silence for those who had lost their lives in the bushfires. He went on to speak against the government’s “attempt to weaponize this tragedy against political opponents”, going on to state that the “heatwaves, drought and bushfires” impacting Australians are “not normal” events. He stressed the Commonwealth’s role in “emissions reduction” and “disaster response”, and that “we need to hold governments to account”.
Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury stated that “we are in a state of climate emergency” and that although the ACT has “some of the most ambitious targets on the planet” that “we need to get serious, we have no time to waste”. Alex White, Secretary of Unions ACT described the natural disaster and smoke in Canberra as “a workers’ issue”, as working people are “at the frontline” of these impacts.
The rally was the fourth major climate protest within the last twelve months, following on from the 15 March Strike 4 Climate protest, 9 August Walk out for Climate Action and 20 September Global Strike for Climate. The next national climate protest is on 17 January in Garema Place at 5:30pm.
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