Around 3000 protesters joined the Global Climate Strike at Kirribilli House organised by School Strike 4 Climate on Friday 25 March. Several contingents gathered on Cammeraygal Land outside Prime Minister Morrison’s residence to demand immediate climate action, including 100 per cent publicly owned renewables by 2030, and a just transition for fossil fuel workers.
The University of Sydney sent the largest contingent, with over 200 participants. Contingents from Gender and Cultural Studies, Linguistics, STEM and the School of Architecture, Design and Planning met at Fisher library before marching to the protest spot.
USyd SRC General Secretary and Enviro Collective member Alana Ramshaw spoke outside Fisher Library about Indigenous people facing the brunt of climate change.
“Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Maldives, and the Marshall Islands are drowning under rising tides and their people are being left with no choice but to relocate, the sea is eating their shores. These countries are on the frontlines facing our resource greed,” she said.
USyd National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) Branch president Nick Riemer and USyd Enviro Collective member Marcus Langdale both emphasised the reckless amount of coal and fossil fuel projects undertaken by the Government.
Protestors then marched to Kirribilli House, merging with the school strikers and contingents from UWS and UTS. “Fuck you ScoMo” and “People united will never be defeated” they chanted. Several inflatables of ScoMo’s face were placed in the vicinity of his residency, inscribed with the message “Scotty Coal 4Eva”.
Thomas Mayor, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) National Indigenous Officer, reminded the crowd at Kirribilli House of the government’s negligence towards Torres Strait Islanders’ loss of homes due to the rising sea levels.
“We remember the name of our ancestors before colonisation and can see their bones in the waters. I say, Scott Morrison, your time is up,” Mayor said. He also extended his respect and appreciation to the union workers who have relentlessly pursued climate action.
Mayor condemned Santos’ move to build gas wells in the Pilliga, saying it “wants to take away our futures”. He also talked about the powerful work of Gomeroi people to collectively oppose Santos’ actions.
The organisers foreshadowed the follow-up action taking place on 8 April at the Federal Court to protest against Santos’ attempts to revoke Gomeroi native title. “Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land,” shouted the crowd.
Letters from school strikers living on Gundungurra and Thawarawal lands (Bowral) who could not travel to Sydney were read aloud by the strikers. They provided accounts of the devastating floods in March 2022 which have led to the loss of residences and livelihoods.
Lola, one of the strikers from Bowral, described the flaming orange and smoky skies caused by the 2020 bushfires. She condemned the government’s “empty handshakes” and reiterated that “the youth are louder than ever before”.
Beatrix Jones, another student from Bowral whose house was flooded, recalled how “she was stuck at home and her mom’s friend was stuck at a camp for two days”. In the face of continued catastrophic weather events, Jones asked the audience how long we will have to fight for climate action.
The last stretch of the protest comprised of an open mic for primary and high school students. “It was so scary to wear masks even during the bushfires because of the air quality”, said an 11-year-old student from Alexandria Park Community School.
The momentum of this rally will be carried on through collective action on 8 April, May Day, and another prospective strike on 29 April.