In Australia, Friday usually means an early knock-off and a saunter to the pub, even more so for university students who saunter down to the pub regardless of the day. Last Friday however, students across Australia spent their Friday protesting responsibly within Covid-19 restrictions for more investment in renewable energy projects and against the Morrison Government’s doomed love affair with gas. It is estimated at least 500 separate protests took place.
The 2019 Fridays For Future protests made global headlines as hundreds of thousands protested worldwide, including protests in Australia which are thought to be some of the largest demonstrations in our history. Unfortunately, 2020 doesn’t much care for precedents set in 2019.
And yet, Australia’s Fridays For Future climate change action campaign found its voice again last Friday despite protest momentum being halted by the Covid-19 pandemic. But, of course, the pandemic hasn’t exactly buggered off, and students ensured their protests were responsible and demonstrative of restriction guidelines. This meant, for the large part, that protests were held virtually around the country.
Take Geelong for example, where students and speakers joined a virtual climate strike via Zoom to send a message to Australia’s politicians to “Fund our future, not gas.”
— 💧 Fridays For Future Australia (@FFF_Aus) September 24, 2020
In Sydney, the rally limited itself to 20 school students and a few speakers in Martin Place who brought with them 100 banners strung along a clothesline to represent the many behind them who wanted their voice heard despite not being able to gather in large numbers.
One student in attendance, Imogen Kuah, told the Brisbane Times that “Friday for us is just the beginning – we’re just starting to ramp it up, obviously in a Covid-safe way. But if this summer holidays is going to be anything like last year, I don’t think we have the option o being quiet.”
According to the ABC, the Sydney protests held particular outcry to call on the Government to rescind its threat to build a new gas power plant in the Hunter Valley.
— Patsy Islam-Parsons (@PatsyIP4) September 25, 2020
On Sydney Harbour a group of young student artists even managed to hire a barge which they decorated in solar yellow and placarded with messages saying “No Gas,” “No Gaslighting,” “Go Solar”, and “100% renewables”.
— ian hobbs (@ianHobbs_media) September 25, 2020
On Sydney’s Northern Beaches Warringah MP, and ‘phoney-Tony’ toppler, Zali Steggall, lent her support to the #fundourfuturenotgas campaign in the shape of a cake and a reminder that she will be introducing her Climate Change Bill to Parliament on November 9.
In the nation’s capital, protesters took to the lawn in front of Parliament House despite this Government’s ominous clouds of policy made actual in the Canberra skies.
— School Strike 4 Climate Australia (@StrikeClimate) September 25, 2020
Even Wallabies flanker David Pocock got in on the climate action, asking his followers who they trust, “Climate scientists & economists or Scott Morrison & the fossil fuels lobby?” Before sharing a video from The Climate Council detailing the limit jobs gas is capable of generating and its deleterious effect upon Australia’s ability to make its Paris Agreement commitments.
Whether it be in Illawarra, where a group of young school students made the sagacious point that “Gas is Ass,” up in Hervey Bay in Queensland or over in Broome, Western Australia, the message is clear: “Fund Our Future Not Gas”. As Covid-19 restrictions ease, we can be assured that the motivation of young Australians to have their voices heard has not dampened, and indeed the Coalition’s inauspicious gas-led recovery is going to have to try and get up despite a unified bashing.
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