Averting Climate Catastrophe

Vintage Reds who are gnashing their teeth over the government’s inaction on the global climate emergency will be interested in the views from an evening’s event at the ANU on 9 July 2019, “Averting Climate Catastrophe: Extinction Rebellion, Business and People Power”.

The event was run by the ANU Climate Change Institute. See their Twitter account for posts from the evening.

Extinction Rebellion is a global non-violent civil disobedience movement which came to rapid prominence late last year when its supporters shut down central London, blockading 5 bridges over the river Thames. Media attention to climate change soared. After ten days of civil disobedience in London in April this year, a climate emergency motion was passed by the UK Parliament.

In 2018 the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that we have only 12 years, at current global greenhouse gas emissions rates, before our chances of limiting global warming to 1.5C are seriously at risk. Beyond 1.5C the consequences for us all are extremely disturbing. We have a very brief window to achieve a rapid decarbonisation of the global economy.

We need to move fast. But how might such a fundamental shift – from business as usual to transformative change – be achieved?

Neil Gunningham, from ANU’s School of Regulation & Global Governance (REGNET), examined Extinction Rebellion’s strategy, its emphasis on non-violent civil disobedience and its impact, before asking: what, beyond grassroots politics, would a transformational movement built around climate change involve? Pressure must be brought to bear on recalcitrant governments from many quarters: not just from grassroots activist groups but from business, financial markets, scientists, unions, school children, and faith groups.

As groups like Extinction Rebellion gain momentum, and join with others, a tipping point may be reached, generating rapid changes across the economic and social system. If so, then bottom up action driven by civil society, in a coalition with its allies, may yet be the catalyst for rapid, radical and constructive action by nation states.

Carolyn Hendriks, from the Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU, discussed other forms of community engagement, especially those comprising people who are frustrated and distrustful of democratic government. She mentioned Lock the Gates, Knitting Nannas, and some very successful renewable energy cooperatives, all local groups which draw on ordinary people’s practical wisdom and show what’s possible at the small end of community resistance to business as usual. Whatever groups such as Extinction Rebellion can achieve, there will then be a need for decision making groups and citizens’ assemblies in the transition to a sustainable world.

Lachlan James, a a “venture capitalist” and visiting fellow at REGNET, provided perspectives from the business sector. His most cheering quote came from the Harvard Business Review, “Firms have become too big to let the planet fail”. Sustainable investment is going mainstream; there are huge amounts of capital chasing a shortage of sustainable investment opportunities.

It is clear that the union movement’s Just Transition plan, to secure workers’ jobs and livelihoods, must be part of the coalition of activist groups which will take us all through to a zero carbon future.

In an almost full house at the Coombs Theatre, ANU, it was noticeable how many grey heads there were, even though it is not us but our children and our friends’ children who will be paying the price for our inaction. It is a critical time for retired activists to add our support and be involved.

Photos: Knitting Nannas, GloucesterAdvocate.com.au; @ANU_Climate on Twitter.

Canberra Rally for refugees on 20 July

July 20 – Save The Date,
6 Years on Manus & Nauru, 6 Years too Long!

“July 19, 2019 will mark 6 years since Kevin Rudd took Australia’s refugee policy to a sickening low by announcing that no person arriving by boat to Australia to seek protection would ever be allowed to settle in Australia.” [Refugee Action Committee]

Join thousands around Australia to rally against this continuing horrific injustice.

Saturday, July 20, 1 pm, corner of Northbourne Avenue & London Circuit, Civic.

Refugee rights are Union business.

Union Aid Abroad Apheda Trivia Night

Two teams of Vintage Reds took part in the Union Aid Abroad Apheda Trivia Night at the Belconnen Labour Club on 12 June.

The event was fiercely competitive (but you can make financial donations to improve your score… ) and unfortunately our brainy table was easily trounced by other brainier tables.

The event raised money for the Karen community. (These are members of a minority group from Myanmar.) We heard from two very good Karen speakers, including one from Harmony Cleaners, a community cooperative business set up as a pilot program with help from United Voice. Many cleaners have experienced exploitation by employers, but Harmony cleaners are paid at the proper rate, work under proper conditions, and set a fine model for any enterprise. An additional bonus is that the company is not-for-profit so invests any extra funds into the Karen community.

Valiant election volunteers

Vintage Reds worked tirelessly in the electorate of Gilmore, beating the pavements in Tuross, Moruya and Bateman’s Bay to bring the union movement’s concerns to voters in the federal election.

We campaigned on themes of fairness and equality, and opposing casualisation, penalty rate cuts, wage-theft and stagnant wage growth.

“Honk for penalty rates” was a particular favourite with motorists, one of whom (not personally known to us) drove on to a local coffee shop and brought back two coffees for our volunteers!

The election results were a shock; but congratulations to Fiona Phillips, the new ALP member for Gilmore.

Sally McManus joins Vintage Reds in Gilmore

Election day saw Sally McManus, secretary of the ACTU, in the electorate of Gilmore, providing her with a chance to have her photo taken with the Vintage Reds and south coast activist friends.

Quite a lot of our members put long hours in, hoping for a result against the government in the election. We failed; but not in Gilmore.

Students’ Climate Strike in Canberra

Students wagged school and gathered in Garema Place on Friday 15 March 2019 as part of the Global Climate Strike. They called for 100% renewable energy by 2030.

“We’ll stop acting like adults if you stop acting like children!” they said. Organisers estimated that 3500 people attended the rally, including 2000 school students. Some parents and grandparents, including a sprinkling of Vintage Reds, also came and were vastly impressed by the students’ organisation and mature activism.

UnionsACT secretary, Alex White, says: “Unions in Canberra support the student climate strike and congratulate them for taking action to send the message that climate change is the greatest threat to future generations. Tackling climate change & ensuring a Just Transition* is core union business. There are no jobs on a dead planet.”

* The ALP will establish a Just Transition Authority if elected, to develop regional transition plans & oversee redundancy schemes. Unions, industry & local communities will have direct input.

Unionists for Refugees plan for 2019

“Refugees are Union Business”.

Unionists for Refugees are a sub-group of Canberra’s Refugee Action Committee, acting on the principles of “solidarity across borders”, social justice and our common humanity. Vintage Reds joined a recent planning meeting for the Palm Sunday rally.

Popular feeling about refugees is starting to break free from the effects of cynical political fearmongering, especially because of concerns for the hundreds of men, women and children kept in Australian detention camps offshore, with no hope for a future.

Let’s make 2019 a big year for change. Enough is enough. All refugees off Manus and Nauru.

Wage justice for cleaners: Change the Rules!

It was cold and overcast in Canberra this morning when the Vintage Reds joined with United Voice and other unions to support the cleaners in Australian Government office buildings who are going to suffer a 20% cut in their wages (from $24.00 to $20 an hour). Many are likely to loose their jobs because of this change of contractors and work arrangements.  Just another example of why Australia needs to “Change the Rules” and rid us of our rancid conservative government!


Don’s Calendar of Events, August 2018

22 August: Aborigines and the Media – Dr Elizabeth Burrows, National Library, 5:15pm RSVP 62621111

22 August: Japanese War Crimes – Prof. Robert Cribb, 5:30pm Manning House, 11 Tasmania Circuit, Forrest, http://www.trybooking.com/WYXH or RSVP 62959430

as a long term member of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), Don recommends 3 new Aussie films – 

West of Sunshine (23/8)

The Merger (30/8)

The Flipside (30/8)

23 August: Palestine Fundraising Dinner with Olfat Mahmoud, 6:30pm Delhi 6 Restaurant, Childers St, Civic, http://www.afopa.com.au/afopa-events/2018/8/23/fundraising-dinner-canberra. Contact Kathryn Kelly 0417269984 or http://www.trybooking.com/394919

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Don’s Calendar of Events, July 2018

14 to 30 July: various literary events – see litbits@canberratimes.com.au

19 July: Launch of “Captain Cook’s Apprentice” by Anthony Hill, Harry Hartog Bookshop, Westfield, Woden, 6pm RSVP 62325832

20 July: Songs of Joni Mitchell – Kate Miller, Heidke, etc. Phone 62752700 canberratheatrecentre.com.au

21 July: Women of Wonder Market, Tuggeranong Shopping Centre, 10am-2pm

21 July: Repower Queanbeyan Launch, hosted by Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Queanbeyan Library, 11am-12:30pm https://www.facebook.com/events/2113719325507650/

21 July: Refugee Rally, Five Years on Manus Island and Nauru, Refugee Action Committee, Canberra, Commonwealth Park (near north end of Commonwealth Bridge), 1pm

22 July: Arab Souq (Market) Festival, National Museum, 11am-3pm, Free entry http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/so-that-you-might-know-each-other/events

26 to 28 July: Dark Emu, Canberra Theatre Centre, Phone 62752700 canberratheatrecentre.com.au

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