In Canberra today over 3,000 people went out of their way, coming in on 30 buses from more than 1000 km away, to let Julia Gillard know that Australians do not want her Carbon Tax. The news made every major broadcast for several minutes. Protesters were referred to as “climate skeptics” (mostly).
Other rallies around Australia got hundreds of people even though they were organized in a hurry, with no advertising, and with no pre-formed coalition of networked groups. There was a very good crowd at the Perth rally on a hot day during business hours, and one heckler (John Brookes). The mood was striking.
This is random shoe-string grassroots action at the last minute and look what it can achieve. It’s just beginning.
The photo gallery at the Australian makes it clear how decidedly normal most people were and what their main messages are.
This is mainstream Australia rising up, yet already the Big-Green-PR machine is at work, doing all it can to deny the undeniable. As I drove home in Perth after our rally, ABC news-radio didn’t mention that 3,000 people had gathered, nor that protests had happened all over the country, they may have said that earlier, but all I heard was how Tony Abbot was under a “cloud” for having spoken at a rally with “extremists” — The Telegraph headlined it too. Labor MP Nick Champion, Labor Party backbencher, gets press time for for his free shot at calling them “extremists“. It’s just another form of name-calling, and if the media had any standards they would not propagate the namecalling without demanding he substantiate it. (Do write and tell me if any journalist asked Champion to explain why it’s extreme to ask for major policies to be put to an election first, or why we ought to expect some achievable outcome when we pay billions — other than earning brownie-points for the UN). Does the word “extreme” mean anything?
Fans of the big scare campaign are masters at avoiding the substantive issues, and filling the available media time with trivialities and name calling. The protesters are obviously angry ordinary Australians. That there are a few odd people or marginal hanger-on-ers among thousands is predictable, and Green rallies have their own variety.
The “witch” and “bitch” signs were unfortunate. The un-statesmanlike anger expressed in those messages is a byproduct of the long suppression of these voices. That anger needs better direction. That will come.
But as much as Labor might wish that today’s rally was a minority group of extremists, this is near the start of the pendulum swing. I stopped to shop at a butchers on the way home inadvertently wearing a No Carbon Tax shirt, and the business-man’s eyes lit up “Were you at the protest?” He’s angry and he’s one of tens of thousands who couldn’t be there today. Many people I spoke to after the rally were keen to help. We need to start networking, with lists. The message was that many people wanted to put posters up and spread the word.
On another front, many businesses are still afraid to speak out against the Carbon Tax (what business — apart from solar and wind — would benefit from it?). But Bluescope Steel’s Graham Kraehe is pulling no punches. Finally, at least some businesses are stepping forward. If they all said the obvious, the carbon tax would be dead tomorrow.