The first Activist Report for 2020 focuses on the huge climate rallies across Australia on January 10, instigated by University Students for Climate Justice.
As the country has been engulfed in catastrophic bushfires for weeks with lives lost, homes and businesses destroyed and air quality readings in cities reaching toxic levels it was no surprise that so many people attended.
There was palpable anger towards Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his refusal to take action on the climate emergency. Anti-Morrison chants spread through the marches like wildfire.
The largest protest was in Sydney, with upwards of 50,000 people taking to the streets and many thousands of hand-made signs and especially-crafted costumes. The march wound past the federal government offices and the NSW State Parliament to condemn both governments for supporting the fossil fuel corporations.
In Brisbane 6000 people marched, including sit down down protests in the streets and a march though the Queen Street Mall, which the Brisbane City Council tries to keep free of protests.
An energetic crowd of 1500 people marched through Perth, blocking several intersections.
Despite the welcome torrential rainfall, 500 people took to the streets in Geelong and 20,000 in Melbourne. The Victorian rallies took place on the back of a concerted campaign by the state Labor government, corporate media and Victoria Police demanding that the organisers call off the rally, falsely claiming that it would pull police resources away from fighting fires.
Activists responded that they would prefer police did not attend the rallies in the first place, given their history of attacking protesters, and, if governments were so concerned about emergency services, why did New Year’s Eve fireworks go ahead?
More rallies are being planned for the coming weeks, including a national day of action on February 22. Check Green Left website for more details.