Thousands of people gathered in Sydney’s Prince Alfred Park Sunday morning to show their support for the federal government’s proposed carbon tax. Rashida Yosufzai reports.
Mums, dads, kids and climate activists made up the crowd of an estimated 8000 urging the government to put a price on emissions and invest in renewable energy, as part of a nationwide campaign organised by community action groups.
Some held politically-charged banners and placards with slogans criticising the opposition and calling for a policy shift from investments in coal to clean energy.
Simon Sheikh from activist group Getup and one of the campaign organisers, said it was time for the government to act on climate change.
“We say yes to a price on pollution and yes to clean energy investment,” he said.
“Right now our politicians are negotiating a carbon price. We say to them to make it ambitious, make sure it invests in clean energy and energy efficiency. “
Rallies were held in cities across the nation to coincide with each other as part of the ‘Say Yes’ campaign, which kicked off last Monday with a TV advertisement featuring actress Cate Blanchett. The controversial ad generated a media storm after the actress was criticised by parts of the media for being out of touch with families who are struggling with the costs of living, especially those in Sydney’s west.
But Parramatta resident Ramya Krishnan, from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, told crowds that residents in her community were just as concerned about climate change as the rest of Sydney.
“The shock jocks don’t speak for western Sydney, neither does Tony Abbott,” Krishnan said.
“The mothers and fathers in western Sydney have big dreams. These are families who are struggling just like everyone else, but who want to lead a better world for their children and future generations,” she added.
Phil Bradley of the Parramatta Climate Action Network, which represents a group of 150 members, said western Sydney householders have genuine fears about the impact of the carbon tax, but much of it comes down to a lack of information being sent across.
“We’ve been on door-knocking campaigns and found some people were so pressed financially they were using solar lamps [instead] of lights at night, and sometimes not even having the refrigerator going because of the costs of energy,” he said.
“It’s pretty sad when some of them are saying they’ve heard prices are going up, and thinking that’s the fault of the carbon tax, which hasn’t even been introduced yet . They’re unaware that there is a compensation package part of this, that in fact makes some people better off,” he added.