An estimated 10,000 people packed the lawns of the State Library on Swanston street Melbourne on World Environment Day to Say yes to a safe climate and support the introduction of a carbon price by the Gillard Federal Labor Government. About 8000 people also gathered in Sydney, 5000 people rallied in Adelaide's Victoria Square, 5000 in Brisbane, 3000 in Perth, 3000 in Hobart, and 2000 in Canberra. Organisors estimate up to 45000 may have attended rallies across Australia today to support climate action and pricing carbon.
Former Liberal leader Dr John Hewson addressed the crowd in Canberra with some telling criticism of both the Government and opposition. Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott was one of John Hewson's staffers. "We need leadership to challenge the scare campaign that's been led by one of my ex-staff members," he said.
"This issue is going to affect generations through this century so how dare they play games with the livelihoods of our grandchildren and their grandchildren. Undoubtedly the negative campaign is a lot easier to run than the positive campaign and we're not seeing much leadership on the part of the government," he said. He told the crowd that it wa likely the next election would probably be decided on climate change in this aap report on ninemsn.com.
The Melbourne rally was addressed by Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Don Henry who said "We've got to ramp up people power because in the next three months our parliament's going to decide whether we take action or not. We think momentum is building, people-power is building, because Australians want action on climate change," he told the crowd, "So it's the right time for all Australians, from all walks of life, to say, 'Hey, come on parliamentarians, no matter what your political colour, we pay your salary, we vote you in, we want action on climate change now and that means a price on pollution'."
Other speakers at the Melbourne rally included Peter Marshall of the United Firefighters’ Union, and climate activist Jenna Farrington, with music provided by Blue King Brown. See Melbourne Protests weblog - Say ‘Yes’ to Action on Climate Change – rally in Melbourne 5 June 2011 for a full report and photos.
Greens MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt commented on the rally to the ABC, "What this is is a genuine people-powered movement that is going to ride over the top of Tony Abbott's coal-fired fear campaign,"
In Adelaide Climate Institute CEO John Connor told the crowd "We are in a struggle with those who will make action on pollution and clean energy the scapegoat for electricity prices rises, those who ignore the fact that electricity price rises have been driven by fuel and network costs. We are in a struggle against those in politics, business and the media who persist in a fear campaign, intentionally frightening workers and low-income households with the worst possible scenarios about taking action. (We are in a struggle against) those who wilfully ignore the support packages that will be there for families and businesses as we switch to a cleaner economy."
"Citizens, we have to face up to the fact that Australia is a big polluter, and the longer we delay action the more it will cost. With your help we will win this struggle against fear, prejudice and short-sightedness." as reported by AAP on Adelaidenow.
Greenpeace CEO Lynda Selvey addressed the crowd in Brisbane saying "We’re up against big powerful multinational companies and they are fighting tooth and nail to protect their self interests," she said. "They’re running scare campaigns all around the country, just like they did with the mining tax. They’re going to workplaces in places like Gladstone and they are telling the workers that they are going to lose their jobs if we have a price on carbon pollution." reported the Sydney Morning Herald.
World Vision spokeperson, reverend Tim Costello said that "climate change represents the greatest potential violation of children’s rights in history" and was already costing lives and livelihoods globally. "The poorest, the most vulnerable are already being the most impacted," he told the rally in Brisbane's Botanic Gardens. "We are here to say to Australians this isn't us putting our neck on the chopping block, we're just asking please stop Australia's reputation being one of a freeloader, letting others do the heavy work." he was reported as saying in the Herald Sun.
The Say Yes Australia campaign and rallies have been organised by a broad coalition of groups in Australia in support of the Federal Government Interim carbon tax to tackle carbon pollution to start on July 1st 2012. The campaign brings together the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australian Coservation Foundation, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Climate Action Network Australia, The Climate Institute, Environment Victoria, GetUp!, World Wildlife Fund Australia and many more.