Students march for change

I was pleased and proud on New Year’s Day this year to become a grandfather for the first time. I reckon that Rosie will live into the twenty second century. I wonder what kind of world we will leave her. For my wife and I, at least, this was why we turned up to support Moruya’s school students on their protest against the woeful inaction by successive Governments, of both the major parties, to do the right thing on the climate. The fact is that the climate is changing, you can argue about whether it is man-made change or not (it is) but it is changing. It’s not hard to see. I’m delighted that these young folk bucked the system and marched down the street to make a statement. This is their world that we are stuffing up and the so-called grown-ups seem to be incapable of doing anything but whinge and do stupid (more than that, incredible) things like bringing lumps of coal into the House or Reps.

Above: Even grandmothers are concerned

I commented to my wife that the last demonstration I had been on was against the war in Vietnam some 50 years ago. That movement was a youth movement that had a major effect on US (and possibly Australian) policy on an unjustified and foolish enterprise. I would like to think that this wave of protest by the world’s youth is maintained and effective. As usual, of course, certain politicians seem to be unable to avoid making fools of themselves. Perhaps top of the list of politicians who are clearly completely out of touch is the Federal education minister, Dan Tehan, who told students they should protest “after school”. No doubt he is not the only out-of-touch politician. No change happened because people towed the line.

But back to the march itself; things have changed. These young people are far more orderly than we were 50 years ago. Having marched from the Showground to the Council Offices they took off up Vulcan Street. I had expected, with my late 60s anti-establishment memories, that they would walk down the road and hold up the traffic. After all, what’s the point of protest if you don’t disrupt a bit of traffic? But these guys were concerned about safety and well-being and the parent and now grandparent in me (if not the rebel) can see the benefit of that. But as we walked along Vulcan Street nearly every passing car honked its horn while many drivers leaned out of the window with their thumbs up. That told me something about public sentiment.

Outside the Council Offices the marchers were greeted by … well, no one. Shame on them

In New Zealand, where dreadful things were happening at the same time, Jacinda Ahern found the time to address the Taranaki students at Puke Ariki. Yet when the student body reached the steps of the Eurobodalla Council Offices they were met with … well, not a lot really. And why should we be surprised at that? Cllr Pat McGinlay in the crowd demonstrating, as he usually does, that he at least represents the community he serves. The General Manager was there but she’s a public servant and if anyone was to accept a submission from the marchers it should have been an elected official. The message is clearly that the Council doesn’t really care, or doesn’t care enough about the legacy it will leave. I don’t think that the Council’s apathy will stop these young folk. I certainly hope not

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