Ernesto's Manifesto

Protest reaction is conservative hypocrisy

By Belligerent Bruce

Conservative commentators and politicians across the country are once again engaging in breathtaking acts of hypocrisy, this time in their reaction to the Extinction Rebellion protests happening around the world.

In a nutshell they claim that protesters shouldn't be disrupting traffic flow and people going about their everyday lives.

More extreme suggestions are that the government names and shames them, jails them and stops their welfare payments (making the incorrect assumption the protesters are all 'dole bludgers').

Where was the outcry from these reactionary right wingers when logging contractors, protesting over an alleged monopoly on forest operations by sawmill owners, shut down Spring St in February 2003?

What about the disruption to traffic and business when hundreds of dairy farmers protesting about the price of milk blocked city streets in May 2016?

And who remembers the gridlock in Melbourne caused by the massive taxi protest against the deregulation of the industry in response to Uber in February 2017?

That's funny, I don't remember the outcry from these commentators on any of those occasions either.

Perhaps the ultimate hypocrisy was shown by Liberal Party MP and former Institute of Public Affairs member Tim Wilson when he attended a pro-democracy march in Hong Kong on Sunday.

Is this is the same Tim Wilson who tweeted that the Occupy Melbourne protesters in 2011 should be water-cannoned?

My take on this is that it is okay to protest for conservative causes but anything that goes against the establishment's agenda should be met with the full force of the state.

So what is Extinction Rebellion?

It is a worldwide movement using non-violent civil disobedience to try to make governments and the population aware of the environmental crisis we find ourselves heading towards.

Protesters feel climate change is such an important issue that they are justified in disrupting our normal way of life.

Their tactics are annoying and risk putting people offside but I ask you, what is the purpose of a protest unless it is uncomfortable and disruptive?

Protesters are removed and arrested during an Extinction Rebellion protest in Sydney, Monday, 7 October, 2019. The Extinction Rebellion climate protests movement has planned a "spring rebellion" from Monday to Sunday, including marches aimed at blocking traffic. (AAP Image/Jeremy Piper)

Extinction Rebellion has planned a "spring rebellion" from Monday to Sunday, including marches aimed at blocking traffic.

Which brings me to the School Strike for Climate held in Shepparton last month.

A gathering of a few hundred people peacefully and non-disruptively came to the Maude St Mall to listen to great speeches from students and adults alike.

Notable in their absence were (as far as I could tell) all Shepparton City councillors, and our local LNP politicans Damian Drum and Wendy Lovell.

Suzanna Sheed was the only politician I could see who bothered to attend.

In the most recent election, apathetic, greedy voters voted for the retention of franking credits, more coal mining and a continuation of the rort that is negative gearing over a comprehensive (if inadequate) environmental policy put forward by the ALP.

The lack of interest by our elected representatives in dealing with this existential issue is the reason Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg's School Strike for Climate movements exist.

I commend the guts and determination of everyone involved in these movements. After all, there are no jobs on a dead planet.

What do you think?