Marching for clean air, water, energy
Saturday March 24 – one year out from the next state election – saw an estimated 10,000 protesters gather for a rally outside NSW Parliament House and a march to Prince Alfred Park. People from all parts of Sydney and NSW issued a powerful call for clean, renewable energy, and for the protection of water, land and communities from coal seam gas and coal mining.
The Time2Choose protest was led by a large group of First Nations people, including Aunty Shirley Lomas, a descendant of the Gamilaroi and Waka Waka Aboriginal nations, who gave an impassioned speech at Martin Place.
The event also marked the two-year anniversary of Bingara farmer Glenn Morris’ horse ride protest over the Harbour Bridge. Leading the horse brigade at the back as the march moved down Elizabeth Street, Mr Morris called for a ban on coal seam gas and mining. “There is devastation because of climate change all across NSW,” he said.
Georgina Woods from the Lock the Gate Alliance said the protest was putting members of the NSW Government on notice. “NSW is at a crossroads,” she said. “We can have a future of productive land, clean and secure water and air, reliable clean and affordable energy, but that bright future is at risk from coal and coal seam gas mining that damages farmland. It’s time to choose.”
Nature Conservation Council Chief executive Kate Smolski said the Berejiklian government is squandering a clean energy jobs and investment bonanza, and in doing so, failing to tackle climate change. “We have one of the most coal dependent energy systems in the world, with 79 per cent of our electricity coming from coal,” she said.
“The transition from coal and gas to solar, wind and storage will attract $25 billion of investment, the construction of about 2,500 wind turbines and installation of more 42 million solar panels across the state. It’s a big job but making the NSW electricity system 100 per-cent renewable is 100 per-cent doable. The only thing missing is strong political leadership.”
A representative of Catholics in Coalition for Justice and Peace said: “Clean air, water and energy affects all of us as well as the rest of the planet, despite our politicians having their heads in the sand. It’s time to end a dependency on fossil fuels and promote clean renewable energy. Urgently.”
NSW Greens members expressed their shock at learning NSW coal mine expansions awaiting approval cover a greater area and will produce more coal and pollution than the widely publicised Adani mine in Queensland.
The Wilderness Society contingent marched behind a banner demanding protection for the Pilliga. A spokesperson said: “The Pilliga is the largest temperate woodland in Eastern Australia and a vital ‘recharge zone’ for our largest underground water source: the Great Artesian Basin. Gas fracking company Santos wants to drill 850 coal seam gas wells throughout this precious place. We’re standing with the strong local community to show Santos an overwhelming opposition to its plans.”