Students, parents and workers flooded Town Hall yesterday for the Election Climate Strike, the second protest called by School Strike 4 Climate this year. The University of Sydney (USyd) contingent gathered outside Fisher Library for a short demonstration chaired by USyd Enviro Collective convenor Ishbel Dunsmore and collective member Marina Dionysou.
The USyd contingent marched on to the University of Technology Sydney where they joined UTS students and others from University of New South Wales (UNSW), and Macquarie University (MQ). The inter-university contingent made a series of demands: an end to fracking on Indigenous lands, shutting down the fossil fuel industry, 100 per cent publicly owned renewable energy, a just transition away from fossil fuels, and the restoration of the right to protest. Macquarie University climate organiser Amy Lamont, UNSW Enviro Officer Nadia Pandoulis and UTS SRC president Anna Thieben spoke to these demands.
“Students and staff are coming together today to march for climate action and strike ScoMo out. What good is a university if we allow those in power to kill the planet with their profiteering?” said NTEU member Matte Rochford, who spoke to the upcoming USyd NTEU strikes set to occur on May 11 and 12.
USyd Enviro Collective member Luke Ottavi spoke on solidarity between labour unions and the climate movement, as well as the Gomeroi fight against Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project.
“If the Federal Court extinguishes Gomeroi native title, we will be the first on the streets sending our message that if anyone’s control of the land in this country needs to be extinguished,” Ottavi said.
“It’s the control exercised by the fossil fuel companies and the racist Australian state that backs them up.”
A Batjala and Gomeroi speaker noted the ecological impacts of the Narrabri Gas Project, as well as the spiritual significance of land and wildlife in Gomeroi culture.
“The pilliga frog and the blue-bellied black snake’s habitat has already been destroyed by the man made destruction called the mining industry”, they said.
The university contingent proceeded on to the strike at Town Hall. This segment of the strike was chaired by School Strike 4 Climate organisers and Year Twelve students Natasha Abhayawickrama and Bailey Linton-Simpkins. Speakers addressed the crowd from the stage in front of a banner reading “Fund Solutions, Not Pollution”, a slogan used in SS4C’s promotional materials for their 2022 strikes.
NSWNMA member and registered nurse Damien Frank spoke to the role of unions in the climate movement.
“If our government isn’t preparing for, or addressing the climate crisis, we need to. As people, as workers and union members, as school students. We need to show leadership, and we need to stand up and fight”, said Frank.
Sydney University student, and Sapna Climate Solidarity group organiser, Manjot Kaur addressed the ways in which climate change is disproportionately impacting South Asian communities and countries, “at this very moment, a searing, record-breaking heat wave is bearing down across South Asia, with highs of 40 degrees”.
“We have no choice but to rapidly cut our greenhouse emissions and support adaptation, because this is what a climate catastrophe looks like. This is what a human rights catastrophe looks like. This is what climate injustice looks like”, Kaur said.
USyd’s Enviro Officer, Angus Dermody, proclaimed “Organise on your campus, organise in your workplace, stand in solidarity with all striking workers, keep up the struggle and build a fighting climate movement oriented around working-class politics, and I promise you we will win”
Following a performance by singer Montaigne, the crowd marched on to the Liberal Party’s Macquarie Street Headquarters, chanting “money for nurses, money for schools, no more money for fossil fuels.”