Thousands of protestors gathered at Town Hall on Saturday to demand immediate climate action. The rally was organised by the newly formed Climate Justice Alliance, a collaboration between unions, NGOs, student groups and grassroots environmental groups.
Protestors marched from Town Hall to Hyde Park to demand First Nations justice, publicly owned renewables, an end to fossil fuel and nuclear projects and compensation for firefighters.
The politics of the event were dominated by the recent summer of devastating fire. Speakers emphasised the need for better funding and an “Indigenous led methodology, working under the traditional custodians of the land.”
Jim Casey from the Fire Brigade Employees Union condemned budget cuts, inadequate equipment and a lack of compensation for workers. “We need to see an expansion of paid labour within this industry.”.
“The bigger question is that the world is warming… Emergency services workers like me, we cannot actually fix this, all we can do is treat the symptoms.”
Oliver Costello from the Firesticks Alliance supported this sentiment, and cautioned governments ignoring First Nations voices in fire management.
“Human induced climate change driving changes in the atmosphere that will take centuries to overcome.”
“Reintroduce cultural fire regimes to mitigate the effects of future fire to come, to help heal the land… our people have the knowledge.”
Speakers also highlighted the need for a just transition and publicly owned renewables, building upon similar demands from rallies late last year.
Erima Dall from the Maritime Union of Australia and co-facilitator of the rally condemned the government’s climate and energy policy.
“They will throw public money at aging fossil fuel projects but will not lift a finger to fund the renewable energy we need and the just transition for workers.”
“We know the real hazard is his climate denialist government and the corporations that are profiting off the destruction of this planet.”
Electrical Trades Union National Assistant Secretary Michael Wright addressed the necessity of publicly owned renewables and an associated just transition for workers.
“The continued sale of our assets makes it harder for us to transition to a clean future. We need to have a people centric approach.”
Chants of “climate justice, workers rights, one struggle, one fight” rang out through the square.
Seth Dias, the state convenor of the Australian Students Environment Network and co-facilitator of the rally told Honi that “the Climate Justice Alliance was formed in order to have a timely, united and strong response to the climate emergency. We recognise that rallies called by many social justice organisations, student collectives and unions in collaboration would be far more impactful than if called alone. This rally was a great first example of this, almost 35 different organisations endorsed it and there was a firm showing of approximately 10,000 people.”
“The CJA will be holding a town hall style forum on the 11th March… The next major projects for the alliance will likely be building toward the ‘month of MAYhem’.”