Socialist Alliance activist and feminist Liah Lazarou gave the speech below to Adelaide’s Reclaim the Night rally on October 26. * * *
Fifteen hundred people rallied on September 30 in Adelaide to support solar thermal power in Port Augusta to replace the ageing coal stations, set to retire. They welcomed about 80 people who walked the 328-kilometre journey from Port Augusta to draw attention to the issue. Protesters rallied to show their support for a switch to solar thermal and becoming a world leader in renewable energy, rather than replacing dirty coal with gas.
We are facing a climate emergency. The impacts of increasing extreme weather events are already being felt around the world and the unprecedented record Arctic sea ice melt highlights the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. Shamefully, it is in this context that new coal and gas projects continue to be approved, and the federal government plans to give $4.5 billion in free carbon permits to the country’s dirtiest coal-fired power stations. This money should be put into building large-scale renewable energy, like solar thermal power for Port Augusta.
The third Australia-wide gathering of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigners took place in Adelaide from September 21 to 23. The Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) hosted the weekend of events. A highlight of the three days was the appearance by London-based Israeli academic Ilan Pappe, who spoke twice. He spoke to 600 people at the annual Edward Said Memorial lecture, which is named for the late Palestinian academic.
Repower Port Augusta, the historic campaign to have the South Australian town host Australia’s first solar-thermal power station, is gathering momentum, with formal endorsements from several health and union organisations. The campaign has generated widespread public interest. In Port Augusta itself, a community vote in July resulted in one-third of residents voting for solar over gas. The result was 4053 votes to 43, a remarkable turnout for the voluntary exercise.
Compulsory income management must be opposed: this was the consensus from a lively August 29 community meeting hosted by the Socialist Alliance in Playford, northern Adelaide, where income management is being “trialled” for some welfare recipients. This meeting included activists, locals, and representatives from community and welfare groups. People placed on income management have 50% to 70% of their payments put on a “Basics Card”, which can be used can be used to buy government-approved “essential” items.
Its website says UniLife is the University of South Australia's (UniSA) “democratic organisation run by students”. But new changes to UniLife’s rules mean student members are no longer entitled to know what their representatives do. This is the result of sweeping amendments to the UniLife constitution passed by student referendum on September 3. UniLife said the changes were designed to allow it to “operate in compliance with relevant Commonwealth legislation”.
Adelaide's first Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE) Israeli Film Festival (IFF) has been picketed by boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) campaign activists. Over September 5-9, more than a dozen activists took part in the pickets, organised by the Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA). AFOPA's Margaret Cassar told Green Left Weekly: “AFOPA held three protests outside the Palace Eastend Cinema to educate the public and Palace-Nova management about the cultural boycott against Israel.”
The newly formed Rainbow Youth Collective was officially launched in Adelaide at a social gathering at the activist centre on September 7. The event also marked Wear It Purple Day — a national youth day against homophobia. About 50 young people from a variety of backgrounds attended throughout the evening. The launch provided an excellent opportunity for networking between people involved in different queer groups in Adelaide with a rich variety of interests, contacts and specialty areas.
A new group has formed in Adelaide to organise young people to fight against homophobia. The Rainbow Youth Collective was formed out of a discussion hosted by Resistance on the topic of homophobia and queer liberation, following the Adelaide equal marriage rally on August 11. Presentations by Resistance activists on the marriage campaign, the origins of homophobia and the next steps for the movement were followed by great discussion around issues facing young queer people today.