Students gathered on the steps of South Australia’s Parliament House. (ABC News: Gabriella Marchant)
Thousands of young Australians are walking out of their classrooms today to demand action on climate change.
- At least 50 rallies are planned across the country, from capital cities to regional centres
- The protests were inspired by the actions of a 16-year-old Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, in Stockholm
- PM Scott Morrison objected to a previous similar protest, saying he didn’t want to see “schools being turned into parliaments”
There are 50 rallies planned across the country for students to protest against what they see as the destruction of their future.
The protests were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg, who pledged to protest outside the Parliament in Stockholm until the country caught up on its commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Greta urged students to ignore calls from some politicians to stay in school.
“I say that the children are on the right side of history and that those politicians are not,” she said.
“So they should keep on fighting and they must be prepared to go on for a very, very long time.
“I don’t think decision-makers will get the message for a very long time.”
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said he would meet with the climate strikers to discuss their concerns outside of school hours, while Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the protests should have been held on a weekend.
“Students leaving school during school hours to protest is not something that we should encourage,” Mr Tehan said.
“Especially when they are being encouraged to do so by green political activists.”
But other politicians have thrown their support behind the rallies.
NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley encouraged students to exercise their “democratic right” to protest.
Independent MP Julia Banks said she was proud to support students for “using their voice”.
“This is their time,” she said on Twitter.
Tweet from miriampierard with photo: Some golden signs here at the schoolstrike4climate wellington
Greta this morning received a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts starting a global climate change movement.
Her view is shared by students around the globe, including the 15-year-old student organiser for the Sydney school strike, Jean Hinchcliffe.
“I believe that I have learnt much more from these strikes and the organising process than I have learnt in any lesson during school,” she told the ABC.
“The amount of experience you gain from it and learning to mobilise and participate in democracy I think is far more worthwhile than any history lesson.”
Tweet from School Strike 4 Climate with photos: “Geelong #climatestrike kicking off!! #ss4c”
Where are the protests being held?
A host of rallies have already kicked off, with the event attracting large crowds in regional centres such as Geelong, Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour, Cairns and Townsville.
The first of the capital city protests kicked off in Adelaide at Parliament House at 11:00am local time.
Melbourne demonstrators started at the Old Treasury building at midday, the same time Sydney’s protest began at Town Hall, Canberra’s at Garema Place and Hobart’s at Parliament House.
What do the students want?
- Stop the Adani coal mine in central Queensland
- No new coal or gas projects
- 100 per cent renewables by 2030
Darwin students will also gather at Parliament House at 12:00pm local time, while Brisbane’s protest will be held at the Queen’s Gardens at 1:00pm.
In Perth, protests will take place at St George’s Cathedral at 11:00am.
A list of regional protests is available at the School Strike 4 Climate Australia website.
Meanwhile, New Zealand rallies have seen strong turnouts, with a student march blocking streets in Wellington this morning.
Tweet from Adam Curlis with video of student protesters: “… and they just keep on coming”
When schoolkids defied PM’s orders
It’s not the first time schoolkids have ditched class for protests in the streets — in November, students filled arcades and city squares, defying calls by the Prime Minister to stay in school, to call for an end to political inertia on climate policy.
Protests were held in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Coffs Harbour, Bendigo and other cities, as students banded together to pressure the Morrison Government in the lead-up to a federal election.
Resources Minister Matt Canavan made headlines when he said the only thing children would learn from going to a protest was “how to join the dole queue”, and that he wanted kids to attend school “to learn about how you build a mine”.
Mr Morrison, too, revealed he was also not impressed with students taking time off to protest.
“We don’t support the idea of kids not going to school to participate in things that can be dealt with outside of school,” he said in November.
“We don’t support our schools being turned into parliaments. What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools.”
Today’s protests are expected to attract similar scrutiny — with one conservative commentator labelling striking students the victims of “politically correct teaching” — as they vow to defy orders to stay in school.