Tens of thousands of students (and some older folks, too) rallied around Australia on Friday, skipping school and protesting climate change inaction in an event that has been attacked by much of the country’s political class.
Dozens of signs littered a crowd on one side of Sydney Town Hall, as students chanted en masse: “Stop Adani,” “ScoMo has to go, ” and banded together to sing John Lennon‘s protest classic “Imagine.” A huge, inflatable beach ball shaped like Earth bounced around the crowd as it grew, while organisers struggled to form walkways between the densely packed crowd.
At one point, Labor leader Bill Shorten‘s office phone number was even shared with the crowd, before a voicemail was left for him. “Bill Shorten will you be our climate leader?” screamed the crowd.
Leaving a voicemail for @billshortenmp. The entire rally has just saved his office number in their phones and they plan on bombarding him over the next few weeks #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/eYsKNOf9qz
— sam langford (@_slangers) March 15, 2019
Of course, the strike was not limited to Sydney – the School Strike For Climate Change was a global event, with over 100 protests scheduled across the world. Earlier on Friday it was announced Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate change activist behind the walkout, had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Students rallied in major capital cities all around Australia, us being one of the first countries to hit the big day.
In Melbourne, it’s estimated at least 20,000 people rallied.
In Canberra, students chanted “the youth are rising, no more compromising.”
Ruby, year 11, Lake Ginninderra College: we know that the government will always have money for elite teams but what about community sport when the fields are dried out or underwater from extreme weather? #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/kFQmVOC8SF
— Eliza Berlage (@verbaliza) March 15, 2019
Queensland students braved the hot weather, bucket hats and all, to bring their voice to the protest.
Proud of our Queensland students coming out in the heat to fight for their future, since our politicians aren’t. #schoolstrike4climate #climatestrike pic.twitter.com/7qCU9458ZQ
— Yoka Dolman (@izzafact) March 15, 2019
While in South Australia, students packed out the state’s Parliament House steps.
Student #climatestrike cannot fit on SA parliament steps #saparli @abcadelaide pic.twitter.com/ZaZgeeme1P
— Gabriella Marchant (@gabby_marchant) March 15, 2019
And thousands more came together in Tasmania.
Students were also vocal in Alice Springs, chanting “Lets turn the world around, leave fossil fuels in the ground.”
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And streets were also packed in Perth.
In recognition of @GretaThunberg, climate strike march in PERTH, Western Australia pic.twitter.com/Sfo4OPuS8e
— 💧 IamSimon (@SimonBlears) March 15, 2019
Other than members of the Greens, NSW Labor Leader Michael Daley was one of few mainstream politicians to endorse the strike. His comments were called “appalling” by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, while Labor Party leader Bill Shorten said “in an ideal world, [students] would protest after hours or on weekends.”
Shortens remarks were echoed by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
“In relation to the science of climate change I think it is wonderful that children and families are accepting the science of climate change,” she said on Friday.
“Secondly, I honestly don’t know why this rally could not have been held on a weekend. I don’t support children leaving school for this rally.”
Here are the Premier’s comments in full. #climatestrike #qldpol pic.twitter.com/aOXgu5MnyS
— Josh Bavas (@JoshBavas) March 15, 2019
NSW Greens MPs David Shoebridge and Mehreen Faruqi endorsed the strike and both were in attendance on Friday.
Faruqi told PEDESTRIAN.TV she had never seen an event like it. “I am getting tears in my eyes,” she said, before taking aim at politicians who were not present.
“Politicians who are not here supporting students walking out of school to take action on climate change today are so out of touch.”
“They don’t deserve to be able to be in Parliament.”