The statement below was released by the Socialist Alliance on March 6. * * * The carbon price framework recently agreed to by the ALP and the Greens is a step in the wrong direction. This is not because, as the Coalition says, the economy — read the profits of big business — cannot afford to cut emissions. It’s because the framework will be counterproductive to real action on climate change. The highest prices now being discussed will simply stimulate a mass rollout of gas, extending Australia's commitment to fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy.
The casual observer might easily conclude that there are just two clear sides in the parliamentary debate over the Labor/Greens carbon price deal. But there is a lot more to the debate than this. Clearly the Greens are in favour, and appear to have won over PM Julia Gillard’s government to an interim carbon tax. On the other hand, opposition leader Tony Abbott has promised a Tea Party-style uprising against it. Abbott will push to rouse a fascistic “people’s” movement to try to bury the deal.
More than 80 people attended an at-times heated meeting on March 3 organised by Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining (IRRM) in Russellvale, north of Wollongong. The meeting was held across the road from the entrance of Gujarat NRE’s number 1 colliery. This meeting doubled as a meet-the-candidates event for the NSW state elections and a question and answer session about Gujarat NRE’s plans to expand coal production. Representatives of the mine attended the meeting.
Below is the text of a speech by Pip Hinman, Socialist Alliance candidate for Marrickville in the NSW state elections, to the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre candidates meeting on February 23. *** I’d like to first acknowledge that we’re meeting on the land of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora nation, and I pay my respects to their elders past and present. The two most important issues in this state election is to call a halt to the privatisations of our public assets and to immediately start a shift away from using polluting coal or gas for our energy needs.
More than 60 people attended a public meeting in Russell Vale, north of Wollongong, on February 3 to oppose a massive coalmine expansion in their neighbourhood. The meeting was organised by Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining (IRRM). Gujurat NRE, owner of No. 1 Colliery in Russell Vale, wants to expand the colliery's current output by 7.5 times — from 400,000 tonnes a year to 3 million tonnes.
In a humble local court in Newcastle on January 31, a major battle in the war on climate change began. A court is a theatrical space where we can overhear the clashing narratives around a central event. The defendants were six of the seven men and women from climate action group Rising Tide — dubbed the Rising Tide Seven. Posing as workers, they entered a Newcastle coal-loading facility before dawn on September 26 and locked themselves to the equipment 30 metres above ground. Work was brought to a halt.
Seventy-three people who took part in a non-violent direct action protest during December’s Climate Camp appeared in Muswellbrook local court on January 31 to answer to charges under the Rail Safety Offences Act. Hundreds of climate protesters gathered at Climate Camp for five days of talks, debates and discussions on the best ways for the community to stop the proposed expansion of Bayswater coal-fired power station. The station is already one of Australia’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
Members of environmental group Katoomba Climate Action Now (CAN) gathered on December 21 outside their local branch of the ANZ Bank to demonstrate, leaflet and chat with customers, staff and passers-by about coal. Recent research by Greenpeace has shown the bank is one of the most substantial and consistent investors in coalmining and coal-fired power stations in Australia. Environmental scientists regard coal as the dirtiest of power generation fuels because of its prolific carbon waste output.
Seven climate activists who temporarily shut down coal loaders at Newcastle harbour in a September protest will wait another month to find out if they owe Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) $525,000 in “compensation”. The activists appeared in Newcastle Local Court for two days of hearings on January 31 and February 3. They were convicted of “remaining on enclosed lands”. Each was fined $300, plus $79 in court costs.
See also: Editorial: Floods and climate link cannot be denied Flood recovery: Make the polluters pay Floods show need for public insurance scheme Venezuela: New laws, funds to cope with floods, homelessness When you fly over the earth’s oldest land mass, Australia, the view can be shocking.