The road outside NSW Parliament House was brought to a standstill for more than an hour on October 14 as Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters blocked traffic at two ends of Macquarie Street and suspended a double bed on fencing outside the building.
The protest highlighted the ongoing and sordid relationship between government and fossil fuel companies, and the troublesome approval of the Santos Narrabri Gas Project.
Attached to the bed were signs that read: “NSW government: Get out of bed with fossil fuels” and “We want to live”.
Two performers representing the NSW government and Santos jumped in the bed and locked on to the bed frame, accompanied by a saxophonist playing raunchy music. The performers were eventually cut free by NSW Police Rescue and arrested.
Organiser Ben Burdett called on people to be more actively involved in protest action. “Our democracy is a fallacy. We are only getting to vote every three or four years. In between, the people who are having the influence are the corporations with the big pockets, corrupting our democracy.”
According to an Australian Conversation Foundation report released in February, fossil fuel companies doubled their donations to the major parties in the past four years. Santos donated $182,083 to the Liberal, Labor and National parties in 2018.
Despite widespread opposition to the Narrabri Gas Project, the Independent Planning Commission has given Santos staged approval to drill 850 coal seam gas wells. This single project, which the big oil and gas company says is just the beginning, will lead to the destruction of parts of the Pilliga state forest on Gomeroi land, threaten the Great Artesian Basin and release more greenhouse gas emissions than the total annual emissions of Victoria.
XR is demanding that governments stop gaslighting and tell the truth. It wants all governments to commit to renewable energy and jobs.
Organiser Kelly Shields said politicians are not looking after citizens and more audacious actions need to be organised.
“We’ve got to be creative, theatrical … [to] show the public what is really going on," she said. "I’m sick of governments ... having policies that back the fossil fuel industries. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do something.”
The protest complied with all COVID-safety restrictions, with less than 20 people involved. It was one of many taking place during the Spring Rebellion.