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Australia: Police Move on Melbourne Climate Protestors

Environment News Service
September 27th, 2001

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Police have moved in to disband protesters opposing construction of a gas fired power generator and pipeline in Somerton, a Melbourne neighborhood. The demonstrators, from Friends of the Earth Melbourne, say the generator will destroy the fragile ecosystem of the Merri Creek today and over the weekend.

"Pumps have been moved down to the creek and excavators are ripping up a trench towards it now," said Friends of the Earth campaigner Brad Gill, who was moved off the site after preventing the destruction since early this morning.

Victorian Trades Hall Council site has green bans on the entire project, but Building Industry Group convenor Brian Boyd says the tactics of the contractors undertaking the projects has made the bans difficult to uphold.

A ruling by Federal Environment Minister, Senator Robert Hill states that "construction of the pipeline in the vicinity of Merri Creek will not take place in the period 15 October to 31 January - this timing is dictated by the need to avoid the peak spawning period for the Southern Bell Frog." The construction begun this week could extend into that time period.

Campaigners are determined to prevent construction until this time, after which, they say, the project will not be viable.

"It's been a tough morning for the campaigners here," said Friends of the Earth spokesperson Michelle Braunstein, "but it is vital that this generator does not proceed."

"The UN's own body of scientists have said that cuts in CO2 [carbon dioxide] of 60-80 percent are required now to avoid catastrophic climate change," said Braunstein. "The community has said that enough is enough and taken matters into their own hands to counteract the government's complacency and laziness."

"The support of Trades Hall Council shows that this is not a fringe issue, but an urgent need to restructure our energy systems and conserve energy rather than letting private companies run amok as they are now," she said.

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