Further protests took place that day, with a “step-in” protest inside Rudd’s Queensland electoral office and 50 people protesting outside Penny Wong’s office in Adelaide. On December 16, more than 150 people protested in three separate actions in Sydney. The actions took place outside the offices of Environment Minister Peter Garrett, Federal MP for Sydney Tanya Plibersek and the Commonwealth Government building in the Sydney CBD.
Garrett’s office was targeted by a “Last Dance of the Barrier Reef” where protesters, dressed to symbolise the Great Barrier Reef, withered and died as a paper-maiche “Peter Garrett” fed the hunger of the mining industry. A letter was read out to “Peter” that announced that “5% targets are 100% pathetic”. The letter also stated: “Last year, you and the Rudd Government were elected in the world’s first climate election on a platform of a 20% by 2020 emissions reduction target. This is a broken promise, and we will not forget.”
The statement pointed out that prominent Australian scientist Tim Flannery had labelled UN climate negotiations “our last chance as a species” and called stalling negotiations a “suicidal tactic”. Two representatives handed over the letter to Garrett’s staff members, who were non-committal on where the real Garrett was hiding. Tanya Plibersek’s offices were targeted by the Balmain-Rozelle Climate Action Group with 30 people appearing dressed in flippers and snorkels.
The NSW Greens organized an action outside Commonwealth Government Office with 80 people. The action was part of a “Step it up” campaign against the Rudd government’s inadequate targets. A statement on the NSW Greens website argued: “The targets means the Australian Government is willing to sacrifice the Great Barrier Reef to appease the big polluting companies that are fuelling global climate change.”
An organiser of the protest outside Peter Garrett’s office, Maria White, told the crowd: “Mr Garrett, Mr Rudd and all those in the Australian government you are on notice; half measures on climate change are not good enough. We will continue to visit Garrett and others over the next 12 months in the lead up to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen next December. Emissions must start to rapidly decline from 2010 – before the next Federal election."
[Climate action groups from across Australia will plan for further action at Australia’s Climate Action Summit in Canberra in February 2009. For more information visit www.climatesummit.org.au].