Activists blockade minerals council conference

May 31, 2009

Canberra residents picketed the Minerals Council of Australia's National Conference on May 28. The protest, organised by Climate Action Canberra, condemned the Rudd government's free permits to Australia's biggest polluters, worth $16 billion.

Hannah Lewis, an Aranda resident, called for the government to cancel big polluters' licences to pollute. "I want a clean future for myself, my community and my children, it's time that this licensce ended once and for all", she said.

The protest demanded the government stop supporting polluting industries and recognise the need for a coal-free economy. The group demanded the government re-allocate the $16 billion to green jobs in renewable energy.

According to the Australian Conservation Foundation, Rio Tinto would be the biggest winner under the designed-to-fail Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. It would receive at least $2.8 billion, despite last year having made a $15.8 billion profit. These handouts are unconditional. The companies receiving them have no incentive to reduce future emissions.

The protesters called for this money to be redirected into clean energy sources. The recent budget gave $2.5 billion to carbon capture and storage, despite it being an unproven technology, and only $1.5 billion to solar energy.

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