SUE JACKSON Therapist/Writer/Photographer/Activist

Last year, as the unofficial blogger/photographer to the anti-East-West Link campaign, our battles were my blog's entire focus. But by Christmas, with the electoral win for people power and the dumping of the dud Tunnel, I was suddenly at a loss. What to write about now? Not sure yet. But there will be ongoing musings and images from this Australian life. So please leave a message. (No need to sign into an account. Simply comment as ‘anonymous’; then leave your name within the comment itself.)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

'Stop Adani Convoy': Pit Stop Melbourne


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I'm not really a petrol head, but even I was impressed by this beauty - Tesla's electric car. I was also impressed, though not really surprised, that the Stop Adani Convoy features lots of electric cars.
The convoy, with its initial 80 vehicles (to be joined en route by many others), started out from Hobart on Wednesday. And even on Day 1 it was attracting attention, with THE AUSTRALIAN's predictable negative headline trumpeting: 'Bob Brown compares coal miners to heroin dealers as convoy begins'.

 
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Bob Brown is leading the convoy. With the Federal election only weeks away, he and his team have hit the road to argue the anti-Adani case in a range of venues, focusing particularly on the key states of Queensland and New South Wales. The route is Hobart - Devonport - Melbourne - Albury - Sydney - Coffs Harbour - Mullumbimby- Brisbane - Airlie Beach - Galilee Basin - Canberra. And at each of these venues there will be a rally just like yesterday's at Birrarung Marr, with enlightening speakers, entertainment and of course banners galore.


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A highlight of the trip will no doubt be the protest at the proposed site of the Adani mine in the Galilee Basin. After that the convoy will move on to Canberra, where it will stage its final rally outside Parliament House on the 5th May, less than 2 weeks before the election.

Bob has taken this break from his beloved bird-watching and post-politics tranquility to step back into the political limelight because he feels the stakes couldn't be higher: 'The proposed mine is an assault on the right of every young Australian who looks forward to a secure future. This outrageous, job-killing economy-wrecking mine in Queensland is the wrong way for this nation to be going.' Luckily, he is not alone in his concern. Nor his generosity.

At last count almost 2,000 people had enquired about joining the convoy. And this requires no small commitment. All these convoy members are suspending their ordinary lives. Instead in 'an epic act of community defiance for the future of our planet' they have signed on for a 3-week-long, self-funded, extensive and likely arduous road trip. I have no doubt the rewards will be great and that I was not the only person in the audience wishing they were going too. I salute them! Below are photos of a few of them - and their vehicles:

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All the speakers, including Bob Brown himself, Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Dave Wandin, together with representatives from the Australian Conservation Foundation and Tesla shared a positive determined attitude. The organisers of the convoy had decided in advance that a non-partisan approach would maximise their chances of converting listeners to an anti-Adani stance. For that reason, even though there were politicians in the audience, especially Greens, none of them were invited to join the speakers up on the stage. And that is how the rally will proceed. However there will be a single exception to this exclusion clause.


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By trek's end the organisers hope they will be reaching out a hand to help the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, join them, to stand tall on stage.



Thursday, March 21, 2019

Now! Climate Emergency Declaration Day


Sing for the Climate Belgium

We are in a world-wide climate emergency and we are running out of time to act. What we need is more than hope, we need courage. It's time to move into emergency mode, time to work together to do what is needed. It is time to rebel.

So says extinction rebellion, a burgeoning world-wide movement of ordinary people utilizing nonviolent resistance to avert total climate breakdown.


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It was extinction rebellion that posted the Belgium anthem (above) on Fb. They were also the organisers of today's event - Declaration Day - in Melbourne's beautiful but steamy Treasury Gardens.

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extinction rebellion Australia was aiming very high today. The target was no less than the Federal Government: We call on the Australian Government to declare a climate emergency and initiate a transition to zero emissions and beyond at a scale and speed never before seen in peacetime.

To date extension rebellion's demand had been primarily directed at City Councils, an unexpedtedly large number of whom have been receptive. At last count, 392 councils covering 34 million citizens worldwide have signed the declaration that they are now in a state of climate emergency.

The countries involved are Canada, the UK, Switzerland, the USA and Australia. Here at home there are 18 engaged councils across NSW, SA, WA and Vic, where I am delighted to say that 'my' council of Yarra, together with neighbouring Moreland and Darebin, are signatories. And my old home town, Bath UK, is the latest council to embrace the previously taboo 'E word' as an appropriate description of their plight.


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Jane Morton (above), Convenor of Darebin Climate Action Now, explained to me today that the shift to the use of the weighty word 'Emergency' is a game-changer. This change started in Australia in 2016 when it was no longer possible to deny that our beloved Reef is dying.

Now it's time to convince the politicians at the top of what ordinary people have known for 3 years. Our time has come. Undoubtedly that was why today's protestors so enjoyed singing rounds of 'This is what democracy looks like':


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It felt particularly apt to be standing on beautiful grass for such an inspiring grass roots event. Like others, I'm sure, I left the rally elated.


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It was only on the way home on the tram that I realised there was an additional reason for my elation.

Jane Morton is a peer of mine. We live in the same area. Our children even went to the same primary school. Jane is a very modest person. Unless I had asked her directly I'm sure she wouldn't have acknowledged her pivotal role in this amazingly successful, world changing initiative.

Jane  is convenor of the tiny Darebin Climate Action Now team. Due to the team's efforts Darebin was the first city council in the world to declare that their district was in a climate emergency. Jane, an ordinary person like me, is making an extraordinary contribution. I nearly missed my tram stop as I pondered this and Margaret Mead's famous saying: 'Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.' 

Do visit www.rebellion.earth. Or sign up for the Australian branch of extinction rebellion at ausrebellion.earth 


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Thursday, February 28, 2019

'School Strike 4 Climate': Josh Frydenberg's Office



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This morning I joined protesting students outside Josh Frydenberg's office in Camberwell.  You can see some of those students (above) waiting, and waiting, for him to appear. As eventually I had to leave, I am not sure if he ever graced them with his presence. It seemed telling that while these young activists broiled in the heat below, our Deputy Liberal Party Leader and Treasurer sat in air-conditioned comfort in his office above. Perhaps he even has sound proofing, so could effortlessly ignore heartfelt chants like:

'Too much carbon in the atmosphere. Oops it's hot down here.'


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Students from all over Victoria appeared outside the Minister's office. This is why:

'We are striking to ask Josh Frydenberg to protect our future and #StopAdani's mine as the first step towards moving Australia OFF fossil fuels and ON to 100% renewable energy.'

 Many of the protestors arrived by train, including a large cohort from rural Castlemaine.

I was concerned that they might be penalised for skipping school to attend a protest. But I needn't have worried. As the trio below quickly reassured me their teachers are very supportive, and many of yesterdays' lessons at school were focused on how to behave and stay safe at a protest.

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There were not only young students pouring out of Camberwell Station. There were supporters of all ages:

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But, whatever their age, protestors were united in their goal - to make politicians listen. Because as the students put it:
'Coal is the number one cause of devastating climate impacts that are hurting our communities right now. Yet neither of the major parties have committed to stop Adani building the largest coal mine in the Southern Hemisphere.'

That's why, marching to the Minister's office they chanted:
'Coal. Don't dig it. Leave it in the ground. It's time to get with it!' Overdue time, I would say!

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As this student below put it later in the morning:  'I love my education, but my future is more important.' 

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Support the Global Strike on March 15, when students everywhere will be striking from school for a safe climate future.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Invasion Day Melbourne - Wow!


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I felt so proud of Australia's youth today at the Invasion Day rally in Melbourne. There were just so many of them there, determined to help re-write our history and demand justice and respect for Aboriginal people.  It was heartening to think that the younger generation's values are so much better and more grounded than many of their forebears'.

I had thought in advance that, as its title was so unequivocal, the rally might attract few people. But I was completely wrong. I am no good at estimating numbers, but people kept pouring off the trams. And the congestion you can see (below), as we turned around to march down Bourke street, will give you some idea of how packed the junction and surrounds were. 

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Of course the day was not exclusively about the young. The Elders who spoke made a wonderful contribution. And there were other older protesters as well, some of whom are fighting fiercely against the government on a number of different fronts.

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But for me the overall impression from the day was of the joy and energy exuded by these beleaguered young Australians. Even just visually the young, in their rich diversity, look so different from many of the power brokers in our country. Here are a few more photos of the crowd - could these Australians look any more different from the overall homogeneity and conservatism emanating from our Cabinet Ministers?!


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I was delighted to hear that Melbourne was by no means alone in its recognition of Invasion Day.  And I learned(belatedly) that last year over 100,000 people spent Australia Day at an array of Invasion Day events.

Today for Sydney-siders there will be firelighting, ceremonies, concerts and a march. In Brisbane there will be speeches and a march. The Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra will be hosting music and yarning circles. There is an Invasion day event in Adelaide. In Perth and Fremantle there will be rallies and concerts. Darwin is offering a free lunch at a community event. Hobart has already had a Dawn Service recognising the frontier wars and massacres, and there is also a rally.

Unknown to me until it was too late to attend, here in Melbourne too there is an annual Dawn Service. Amongst others abused and killed,  the service particularly honours the thousands of Aboriginal people whose bodies were taken for science and collecting. 
I will certainly attend next year.

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Friday, November 30, 2018

Funeral for our future. Stop Adani Melbourne



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This morning there was a Funeral for Our Future at Melbourne's Federation Square. This was the organiser's (Stop Adani)  invitation:

It's time to send a strong message to our politicians - our future is in serious jeopardy due to their inaction on climate change. On the #StopAdani National Day of Action, wear black and join us in mourning what we may lose, and demand our politicians take action: they must publicly commit to stopping the Adani coal mine and transitioning away from fossil fuels in order to save our reefs, our farmers, our home, our future. 

The funeral had everything! 

There was a casket, surrounded by carefully arranged displays highlighting the inmate's characteristics.

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There was a celebrant, who was all too aware of the corpse's power for evil. Yet she still encouraged us to persist and to hold on to hope for the future.


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Of course there was a sympathy card. But in a week when the West Australian government has opened the gates to fracking and Adani has announced he will use his corporate billions to build his coal mine (even as catastrophic fires decimate Queensland), it was the guests who needed sympathy at this funeral.


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There were forlorn mourners.


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And those who are determined to point the finger directly at a principle culprit for a harrowing future scenario.


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 As is appropriate at a religious service, some people came with their entreaties.


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Others knew exactly where to address those requests. And given Victorian Labor's recent massive electoral victory, plus the fact that an early action of the original Andrew's Government was to dump the dreaded East-West Link and then make Victoria fracking free, we can only hope they will soon step up and oppose Adani before it is too late. The electoral result should surely embolden them.


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The service had its ritual: a march around the CBD, featuring pallbearers who carried their weighty burden with dignity.


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In true New Orleans fashion, the great Riff Raff Marching Band celebrated the corpse's passing and trumpeted all our hopes for a fossil free future. 


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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Hong Kong's courageous 'Helpers'

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I have just returned this morning from a week's holiday in Hong Kong, and I feel very jet-lagged. But before I rest I need to try to make sense of an experience I stumbled on en route to the airport yesterday.

I hadn't visited HK before and knew nothing in advance about the elevated covered walkways that transect the inner-city. But during the week I had used them a lot, appreciating their shade and even the occasional breeze which managed to slither in between the skyscrapers. I was very used to their orderly, task-focused foot traffic too. So yesterday I was in for a shock. The foot traffic was still there, but squeezed to the centre of the path. And firmly ensconced along the perimeter fences were hundreds of Filipino women - in cardboard boxes.

My first thought was that they were protesting. And as I had discovered nearby, the previous day, a shrine to HK's 'Comfort Women' (locals used as sex slaves by Japanese troops during WW2, who still await justice) I wondered if the protest was on their behalf.


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But as there were no placards, banners or megaphones, I quickly dismissed that idea.
Anyhow the women seemed oblivious to the outside world, absorbed as they were in the activities in their pods. They were sewing or knitting, eating or drinking or playing cards. There was a lot of talking, laughter and some tears. Some women were asleep and others were doing each other's hair or nails. 


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I had no idea what was happening. Next I wondered if it was a homeless encampment. But that seemed unlikely because of the temporary nature of the space's availability. Also the women had no large personal belongings with them. And I was puzzled by the cardboard boxes.
 

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At first I thought the boxes looked like cages. But after a while they appeared cosy and enclosed - temporary tiny houses. The shoes left outside many of the 'doors' enhanced that image.

I was very keen to know what was going on. It felt important.  But at the same time, clearly I didn't belong, and I didn't want to intrude. So it was only when 'Mara' caught my eye and beckoned me over that I was finally enlightened.


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I don't speak Tagalog, and although Mara (back right) had some English, communication was by no means easy. Nevertheless, Mara was able to explain that all the women on this particular walkway are from the Phillipines. Every Sunday, all over HK, women like her and her friends, who can't afford cafes or movies, meet in public places - walkways or parks or occasionally Church halls.

As to my question about the cardboard, Mara said it provides cheap ($1 - $2 per box) shelter and privacy and protection from dirty floors. It is also more 'homely'. I really appreciated our conversation and the women's generosity in spending part of their single day off in my company. I knew it was time to move on though, when misunderstanding my question: 'Do you all work with families here?' as: 'Do you all have your families here?' the friends went quiet. Mara finally replied softly: 'No. All our families are in the Phillipines.'

During the week prior I had noticed many 'helpers' (the term used in HK for domestic labourers) most often with pre-schoolers.

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No matter how much they grow to love their tiny charges, it must be just about intolerable for the helpers to leave their own children behind in the Fillipines (or Indonesia or elsewhere). Mara was clear that tripling her salary has made the sacrifice worthwhile - as it ensures her children's education.
But I was left in awe of these working women's courage. And their ingenuity in providing each other with needed support, while simultaneously keeping their sense of community alive. 

Now I'm off to bed!