There were more Extinction Rebellion protests in Australia today. I wasn’t a part of it, but I was in Brisbane and watched on for a moment as Elizabeth St was closed. Some pedestrians got angry at a protester, people were arrested and dispersed, and at the time I went by there were more police and ES vehicles than anything else. Then earlier today I have seen more arguments for and against the protests and other various happenings.
Protests are disruptive. That is their purpose, and I’ll unapologetically defend the democratic right to carry them out. But there are some points that are worth discussing.
A disabled man pointed out that the inconvenience of these protests weighs heavier on himself and other disabled people, specifically when they are using public transport and have delays and disruptions. Even if you discount sympathies for disabled people (whose concerns are valid), the matter of public transport disruption – especially when the protest is about environmental causes – is problematic. I believe that it is possible to carry out demonstrations of the kind that occurred today while still providing access and passage for public transport and emergency service vehicles.
The more buses and trains are utilised, the fewer cars will be on the road, thus reducing the environmental impact (obviously renewable sources of energy for these should be pushed for) and the amount of congestion in the CBD. Some have even suggested banning cars and private vehicles from the CBD entirely, although I cannot claim to give an answer as to how feasible that idea is. My point here is that we should encourage the use of public transport, and disrupting buses and trains – yes, while I support the sentiment, the man who chained himself to a train track was rather silly in my view – appears to cause more outrage than blocking ordinary traffic. Probably because opponents of the protests (as I’ve mentioned) can then laud it over everyone’s heads.
But here is some irony for you. One of the busses in my area, run by Transdev (a private company) had a full-length ad about protecting endangered species. The ad was sponsored by Glencore, a destructive mining company. Looking into it, they appear to be affiliated with a conservation project called Aussie Ark, helping with conservation efforts and the like. But Glencore is no stranger to tearing down the environment, and therefore the wildlife, to make way for its much for profitable projects in the mining sector.
Seeing that advertisement on the side of privately-run public transport really just seems like it could only happen here in Queensland, although I’m sure NSW could cough up something similar.
Truth of the matter is, these protests are important, continue conversations, and call out our governments’ wrongdoing (at all levels). QLD is trying to rush through some anti-protesting laws quite recklessly, with Greens State MP Michael Berkman calling it shoddy and inaccurate scrutiny. Public hearings were pulled back to a closer date, MPs got access to submissions this afternoon – hardly enough time, Berkman says, for anyone to properly read through them all before questioning or challenging the changes. He also notes that this accelerated process is the only check on power, seeing as Queensland has no upper house, and calls out the slow response to climate change when there appears to be ample time to quickly make it harder to push for climate action.
Albanese expressed his happiness with the ALP’s climate policy, a comment that he received quite a bit of backlash for because his party, as a pathetic opposition, offers little real change to the Coalition madhouse. Federal Labor has capitulated, and the loyalties of QLD State Labor were never in doubt, which will assuredly cost them votes in the next election – a split, I am sure, will be blamed on those damn Greenies as leadership once more slides to the even more worrying LNP.
As an aside, my university (QUT) has a new Chancellor – Dr Xiaoling Liu. Not only has she held numerous positions in the mining giant Rio Tinto, but she also sits on the Advisory Council of the China Matters organisation that, in its own words:
“… is an independent organisation that strives to advance sound China policy. We are unique in Australia. We engage business executives, public servants, politicians, and university leaders about challenging policy choices in the Australia-China relationship. We generate public debate about Australia’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China, which aims to inject nuance and realism into discussions. On the basis of solid China expertise and Chinese-language sources, we research problematic policy issues with the goal of formulating recommendations and providing analysis on how these policy challenges are viewed in Beijing.”
Time to voice your solidarity with Hong Kong on campus, perhaps? I’m sure there is no conflict of interest whatsoever regarding her position and the cash cow that is the influx of foreign students. I suppose we will wait and see.
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