SUE JACKSON Therapist/Writer/Photographer/Activist

Last year, as the unofficial blogger/photographer to the anti-East-West Link campaign, our battles were my blog's entire focus. But by Christmas, with the electoral win for people power and the dumping of the dud Tunnel, I was suddenly at a loss. What to write about now? Not sure yet. But there will be ongoing musings and images from this Australian life. So please leave a message. (No need to sign into an account. Simply comment as ‘anonymous’; then leave your name within the comment itself.)

Friday, February 13, 2015

To My Valentine: the Planet. 'Happy Divestment Day!'

However it might appear, what you are looking at (above) isn't a Revival Meeting in the Deep South. The group's eyes are not gazing upward in search of the divine. Although I must say the photographic drone, the focus of their attention, was pretty heavenly. I'm sure you'll agree once you see an image of it:

The drone was there to take pictures of the human sign that members of, GetUp and other community organisations and individuals travelled to Alexandra Gardens to make this morning. Global Divestment Day was the occasion and the sign simply implored 'Divest'. It was Melbourne's contribution to the 2 days of activities designed to raise awareness of the need to withdraw funding from companies that are destroying our planet. The aim of the relatively new Divestment movement was well put by Amber Craig, a recent Science Graduate from Melbourne University and speaker at the rally: 'Our power is our bank accounts.'

Amber Craig

Amber's group Fossil Free MU last year canvassed academic staff, circulated a petition and wrote an open letter to the university's management in the hope that MU will become the first tertiary institution in Australia to divest. Today, students from three other local universities - Swinburne, Monash and RMIT - cut ribbons signalling the formation of their own divestment groups.
The audience (human and canine) - many bedecked in GetUp's familiar orange - listened attentively to all the speakers:

We heard from Samantha Hunter, Greens councillor for the progressive Moreland City Council, that by June the council will have withdrawn all its money from the blinkered 'Big 4' banks (Commonwealth, Westpac, ANZ and National Australia). And it was heartening to learn that the Anglican diocese of Melbourne has set a financial example that is now being followed by other dioceses elsewhere in Australia.

It seems particularly apt on Valentine's Day, the day of love, that we are reviewing our relationships. And it's timely too to check out how the commitment of others to their old flames is faring. The billionaire Rockefellers, numerous foundations, colleges, universities and funds (including superannuation) as well as cities (such as Fremantle) and even whole countries, like Norway, are deciding to dump those old flames. They've realised that while coal, gas and oil might seem superficially to have humanity's interests in mind, just below the surface they are heartless and in it only for themselves.
So Valentine would agree that today is the perfect opportunity to break up with them once and for all and move on. Especially since renewables are ready and waiting. They might not have the conventional red roses in hand. But old habits are a thing of the past, and I'd prefer these orange beauties at the Alexandra Gardens any day:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Waiting for Ellen!

On the morning of Thursday 12th February, community groups across Melbourne will be joined by their local Member of Parliament and take public transport to Parliament.
The morning will see MPs catching trains, trams and buses to Parliament with their constituents. Public Transport Not Traffic supporters know progressive cities around the world recognise public transport as the most effective transportation solution. Investing in public transport increases competitiveness, quality of life and supports environmental sustainability.  This will be an upbeat, positive, engaging and professional community event. Picture a handful of our volunteers and community group members riding the train into the city with their state MP, chatting about their transport agenda and when everyone arrives at Parliament station, there will be supporters with balloons and placards waiting to welcome your group!

By taking public transport to Parliament, your state MP would be signalling their support for public transport infrastructure as well as for their constituents who regularly use the public transport system.

Ellen (our designated MP) with Kerry and Berish

As you can no doubt hear from the eloquent outline (above) by PTUA's Cait Jones, this morning's event should have been straight forward. And as the photo above (courtesy of Alison Clarke) attests, Ellen Sandell, the history-making, first Greens MP to the Lower House, arrived on schedule at her destination. Unfortunately, her intended travelling companions were not so lucky. 
It wasn't from want of trying. Like Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop, who had to prove last week in advance of the spill that they were not in cahoots by having themselves photographed in front of separate train station signage, I can prove that I actually arrived at our meeting point:

Wheeled commuter enjoying bushland view behind Macaulay station

In fact you can no doubt tell from the angle of the light in the photo (above) that I was even there well before the scheduled meeting time of 8.23. I had plenty of time to listen to the freeway sounds crashing overhead, whose impact would have been so much worse had the dreaded East-West Link not been dumped:

But despite the fact that my fellow PT advocates and I kept an eagle eye on both the bus, from which  Ellen was expected to alight, and the train platform nearby, we missed her.

Waiting, waiting at the bus stop

Disconsolate, we finally made our way, MP-less, to Parliament Station. Sadly, by the time we arrived at the Parliament steps, the balloons were no longer in evidence, most of the MPs including Ellen had dispersed, and the party was wrapping up:

Still it was good to be there: We learned that fifteen plus MPs, Greens and Labor, had accepted the invitation. Arriving with their constituents, they were greeted by the welcoming committee and reporters from Channel 9 and the ABC. And I was happy to meet Samantha Dunn, the new Greens MLC for Eastern Metropolitan, who had lingered:

Samantha with Cate

I was delighted to hear from party goers that the event went so well. I was just sorry I missed the cake.