Much of what I have been witnessing in Australia over the past months, well years actually, has left me shaken and concerned for what the future of this country holds. However it appears that regardless of the efforts of the current government and previous political leaders there is also a great deal of good in the offing.
Money has become such an integral part of our lives and the quest for profit at the expense of the environment and the best interests of the people has driven much of the worlds policies and played the primary measure by which business leaders, governments and people in general choose.
What is also becoming apparent is that there is a growing understanding from the community that this way of life is leading us down the path of destruction and many are looking for different roads to travel.
People from all walks of life are coming together to protest some of the draconian measures that this government wishes to legislate into existence as well as placing significant pressure on the Private Sector to be more discerning in how they do business. Groups such as Market Forces and Greenpeace [just to name two] have been waging divestment campaigns aimed at the large lenders and institutions to pressure them into withholding investment in projects that would prove damaging environmentally and have significant impact in the areas of community welfare.
The most recent of these campaigns was waged against Sydney University for its holdings in Whitehaven Coal and other similar ventures. Just this Monday Sydney University announced that it has halted its investment in the company, which is currently in contention with a number of local and national community groups regarding the Maules Creek mining venture. In fact they have gone one step further than this. According to the Sydney Morning Herald:
The university has issued an instruction to its Australian equities managers to make no further investments in the coal and consumable fuels sub-sector of the ASX,”.
They are not the only university to do so with Monash University and Melbourne University currently reviewing their investments along with a number of Australia’s largest Universities. There have been rumblings from both the government and the Minerals Council suggesting that they have caved to environmental bullying. The government and the council seem to feel that when they use the threat of stopping investment and increasing taxes to get its own way it’s considered persuasion but if another group tries to use their power base its bullying. Can’t have it both ways I’m afraid and to be honest the power base that protesters use is built solely on the collective voice of those protesting NOT by using governmental legislation and authorities which in my book makes it more legitimate in its direction.
Sadly it is, as always is the case, that those who are used to getting their own way and pressuring others to go along with them find it outrageous when others are able to do the same thing but more effectively and with more genuine support from the populace. From my perspective it appears that the universities have recognised that the future for energy in Australia, in fact throughout the world, lies with renewable energy and if the current Energy Corporations won’t diversify then they will be left behind. The reasons for not diversifying and moving into areas of clean energy are depressingly simple as this little cartoon [courtesy of the Australian Conservation Foundation] shows.
Not only that but universities around Australia are becoming more and more vocal in their determination to have the government back down over the issue of de-regulating Tertiary education despite ongoing threats from Christopher Pyne [federal minister for education] and the LNP. In the past the government has tried to say that they only protesters are the students and only a small percentage of them at that but that lie will not hold up under the united pressure from the Academic Boards and the Alumni of the largest campuses around the country.
I’ve spoken in the past about the potential of social media to direct and unite the populace in a way never before possible and as we can see here it is indeed a more than effective tool. The ability to disseminate information, sidestep the managed mainstream media and undermine the governments spin doctoring is a game changer in the areas of social reform and protest.
Not only that but for the first time we can truly see the power that the populace, the spending populace, have over the private sector. In the past money and information has been wielded by government or big business to push their own agenda and they now find themselves on the receiving end of a very big stick that when wielded by a united group can force change. Well what can I say other than ‘Here’s to Interesting Times’
In the spirit of change I thought I would end this post with a blast from the past that is just as relevant and inspiring today as it was back in 1964.