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Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Thousands march against climate change

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An estimated 150,000 people marched at almost 60 locations across Australia on Sunday November 11 for the annual Walk Against Warming rallies. The turnout was fantastic and proves that many ordinary people are now deeply concerned about climate change and the environment.

In Melbourne protesters met at the State Library and marched up Swanston Street to the Alexandra Gardens. Unfortunately, like at most of the rallies across the country, the organizers of the event (Environment Victoria and Greenpeace) made sure that politics were absent on the day.

Addressing the crowd in Melbourne, World Vision’s Tim Costello said climate change was a moral and a justice issue, and not an issue of left or right. Costello said it was the world’s richest countries that had produced most of the greenhouse gas and argued that personal change was needed as there was no longer enough wealth around. So much for our unprecedented economic boom his brother (Treasurer Peter Costello) keeps telling us about!

Costello, like many, refuses to acknowledge that it is big business that produces the majority of greenhouse gas emissions and not individuals. The Socialist Party whole heartedly supports individual change and unnecessary waste but we put the blame for climate change squarely on the shoulders of the bosses not ordinary people.

Even if every Australian totally eliminated their residential emissions it would not result in significant cuts in emissions. The changes we make at the personal level would account for at best 20% of the change required.

South Gippsland dairy farmer Bruce Beatson also addressed the Melbourne crowd, telling them he had changed his political allegiances after becoming concerned about global warming about 20 years ago. Coincidentally this was about the same time as global warming started to effect the way he did business and thus his profits. As Marxists say, it is always material conditions that determine consciousness!

The biggest round of applause on the day came when a student reported that about 300 people blocked a ship carrying coal in Newcastle this week. The mood of the crowd was largely in advance of the rally organizers. Most people realize that we need to address global warming urgently and thus radical solutions are required. Voting alone will by no means be enough.

In Sydney, protesters used the rally to draw attention to the major parties’ support for the Tasmanian pulp mill. Protesters made their way from Sydney’s Hyde Park through the city to The Domain where the crowd heard speeches from Greens Senator Bob Brown and one time environmentalist, Opposition Environment spokesman Peter Garrett. Some protesters turned their backs on Garret during his speech in protest of his support for Gunn’s pulp mill.

The Socialist Party supported the Walk Against Warming rallies but campaigned not only against climate change but against the system that puts profits before the planet. Hundreds of copies of our newspaper The Socialist were distributed and many names were collected on our petitions calling for a short term reduction in emissions, the phasing out of coal power plants, massive investment in public transport and renewable technology and the nationalization of the big business polluters.

By Socialist Party reporters

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