Environment

Sep 14, 2009

Hazelwood protest included ‘ordinary people’, not just guys in wombat suits

Yesterday's protest at Hazelwood power station was billed as a day of "community protest and non-violent mass civil disobedience". Yet despite the small numbers, what was remarkable was the 'ordinariness’ of the crowd, writes Ian McHugh.

Yesterday's protest at Hazelwood power station was billed as a day of "community protest and non-violent mass civil disobedience," and yet despite the small numbers, what was remarkable was the ‘ordinariness’ of the crowd. One protest with 500-odd people on a dreary day in the backblocks of Gippsland ain’t gonna change the world, but who shows up on the day says much about the evolution of the climate issue -- and environmental issues more broadly -- in the public consciousness. It wasn’t an easily compartmentalised demographic -- though we can always rely on certain members of the commentariat to imply that the simple act of showing up somehow metamorphoses the individual into something easily nameable and easily dismissable; ‘green religionist, eco-fascist’ and other pejoratives often appended with something about coffee or white wine varieties.

But whether you’d call it depoliticisation or repoliticisation of the environment, these people are profoundly afraid of where we’re heading, and that fear, and the call for an urgent change of direction seems to be bleeding its way across the political spectrum.

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5 comments

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5 thoughts on “Hazelwood protest included ‘ordinary people’, not just guys in wombat suits

  1. Genevieve

    Spot on Ian. Getting 500 people out to a power station (there were some locals there, they numbered in the tens), with a couple of hundred of them willing to commit civil disobedience to show how strongly they believe that we need to transition out of coal (a position also advocated by Australia’s top climate scientists and Dr. James Hansen of the USA) is a big step for the movement and should be a clear warning to the politicians still pandering to the fossil fuel interests every chance they get.

    I have also noticed that this movement has moved into the social mainstream in the last two years, but particularly in the last 9 months, since the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme [sic] was announced.

    It’ll get a lot harder for the State and Fed Govs to justify their insane inaction on the climate crisis as more and more WORKING FAMILIES cotton on to the situation we’re in.

  2. sean bedlam

    What a great weekend it was. There’s only one way to understand the behaviour of protestors- get involved. From close up the costumes and theatrics make perfect sense because they take a lot of the heat out the situation.

    Of course, lots of people will have their minds made up for them by dodgy tv news, edited just so, but there’s nothing quite like a spot of direct action to make you feel like a citizen.

  3. michael crook

    With our pollies becoming increasingly dependent on the corporations for their after politics careers and the incredible levels of on the job corruption, especially here in Queensland, it has become obvious that ALP politicians no longer believe in the objectives or policies of their own party and pragmatism and personal self gratification rule the day. This being the case, the only way for any significant change to occur is grassroots activism of the kind seen at Hazlewood. We must follow the model of community activism and control of ones own destiny as evidenced by the communal councils in Venezuela. With the culture wars conducted by the commercial media over the last 50 years, especially as regards the lack of value ofcommunity activism, it is going to be very difficult to raise the political and social awareness of our fellow Australians. Change can only come from the grass roots, there is nowhere else, therefore our job is to educate, inform and guide.

  4. Colin Jones

    After watching Martin Gerguson’s performance over the week-end I became absolutely convinced this government has no intention of disturbing the status quo vis-a-vis Big Coal. Talk is cheap when it comes to our posturing prime minister and signing protocols about climate change does not in my eyes consitute real action. Surely these people have children and or grandchildren. How the heck are they going to explain their inaction to their progeny and how history will treat these morons.
    Maybe there won’t be any history or anyone to teach.

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