Residents rallied at the local waterfront on November 5 to protest the Viva Energy gas import terminal, proposed for Corio Bay.
The crowd was angry that, after more than two years of campaigning, Victoria’s Labor government had still not decided whether it will agree to the floating liquified natural gas terminal.
There had been a promise that a decision would be made before the state elections in November once the Environmental Effects Statement process was completed.
The rally was organised by the Australia Conservation Foundation Geelong’s Renewables Not Gas campaign. Speakers from three parties as well as activists addressed the protest before taking off on a spirited march around the bay.
Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick gave a rousing speech. Meddick delivered a 2400-strong petition to Victoria’s parliament in September.
Courtney Gardner, Greens candidate for the seat of Lara, also spoke. She and Meddick thanked Socialist Alliance (SA) for its support for the campaign.
So when Sarah Hathway, SA candidate for the Lara, spoke, she received huge applause.
“Fossil fuel projects don’t just happen,” Hathway said. “Each project is a conscious, deliberate choice made by elected politicians. Each decision to approve planning permits for these projects takes us a step closer to climate catastrophe.”
Hathway described Viva’s proposal as a “get rich quick scheme” that would compromise the government’s targets to reduce emissions by 80% for 2035, as well as the renewables targets and the revival of the State Electricity Corporation.
“We know that when communities get organised, when we build alliances, when we mobilise, change happens,” Hathway said, pointing to the strong grassroots nature of the campaign, which involves northern suburbs locals, climate activists in Geelong, Bellarine and across Victoria, as well as unionists, local councillors and MPs.
If Viva’s proposal does not succeed the campaign will need to continue, Hathway said, as another company, VOPAK, is preparing a new, similar proposal, a little further out in Port Phillip Bay.
The protest finished with a picnic where Kelly O’Shannassy, CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation, addressed the crowd.