Sydney’s upcoming Sack Scomo rally has been cancelled tonight, with NSW police telling Uni Students for Climate Justice organisers that they will actively prevent protestors from walking on the road if they attempt to do so. This decision was made after the organisers submitted a notice of intention to hold a public assembly at Customs House, Circular Quay at 6pm.
Inspector Gary Coffey of Newtown Police explained, “There’s no appetite to allow a march,” and cited higher authorities as the cause behind the ban.
This ban comes after intense public discussion surrounding the role of environmental protests in Australia, and Scott Morrison’s vowed crack-down on protestors. The ban has also attracted criticism of the NSW police.
Uni Students for Climate Justice NSW co-convenor Gavin Stanbrook said, “The NSW police are doing the dirty work of Berejiklian and Morrison. The Liberals don’t want another protest to draw attention to their failure and culpability in this crisis. When the country is on fire and Morrison’s approval ratings have plummeted, it’s outrageous they’re trying to silence our opposition and anger. We refuse to be quiet Australians.”
Fellow co-convenor Chloe Rafferty said, “After unsuccessfully attempting to quash protests in Victoria, lying about resources being diverted from the fire front, NSW police are feeling the pressure to shut down protests calling out the government. We have the right to call on Morrison to resign – this is a worrying day for democracy. Already Australia’s democracy has been downgraded from “open” to “narrowed” – how far will this government go to secure their power?”
This protest was set to be significantly smaller than Friday’s rally, which attracted more than 35,000 to Town Hall. The concrete demands put forward remain the same. Uni Students for Climate Justice call for increased taxes for fossil fuel companies, that the government pay all firefighters, and pay for the rebuilding of houses and infrastructure lost in the bushfires. They also call for the immediate transition away from fossil fuels, a just transition for workers in fossil fuel industries, and justice for First Nations communities.
Uni Students for Climate Justice are stressing that they will still be marching.
At this point, the Sack Scomo protests planned for other major cities are expected to go ahead.