Bandt drums up opposition to Labor’s coal and gas agenda abroad and at home


Leader of the Australian Greens Adam Bandt MP has offered support to Pacific Leaders to demand Labor stop opening coal and gas mines in return for hosting a climate summit, while also encouraging people to join a non-violent ‘people’s blockade’ of Australia’s largest coal port in Newcastle this November. 

Mr Bandt has written to Pacific Island Leaders, backing recent calls from prominent Pacific elders that Australia should stop opening up new coal and gas before it is awarded a global climate COP summit. 

Last night, Mr Bandt also made a speech at a ‘Rising Tide’ event in Melbourne, as part of the ‘People’s Blockade Speaking Tour’, where the group is building support for ‘thousands of people to gather and demand an immediate end to new coal projects and the end of coal exports from the world’s largest coal port, by 2030’. Mr Bandt said growing civil disobedience is necessary to help pressure Labor to stop opening new coal and gas mines. 

The letter to Pacific leaders backs a recent bold call from the Pacific Elders’ Voice, a collection of former regional leaders including the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Palau, that Australia should stop trying to hurry their smaller nations’ current leadership to support our bid for COP31.

As Climate Minister, Chris Bowen, was last week travelling around Pacific Island Nations to seek support for hosting the COP, Mr Bandt says that stopping new projects is “the single biggest thing the Australian Labor government could do to protect our region” and has offered the Greens’ support for any pressure Pacific Island nations wish to exert on Australia to stop opening coal and gas mines in return for co-hosting the COP.

The latest National Greenhouse Gas Inventory quarterly update showed a 2.1% rise in oil and gas emissions over the year to March 2023, together with a long-term increase in Australia’s emissions from coal and gas.

Excerpts from the speech to the Peoples Blockade Speaking Tour:

We must come together and fight back. Together, we must demonstrate that we can stop Labor and the big corporations from threatening our survival. 

The Greens will keep fighting in Parliament to stop Labor opening new coal and gas mines. But we will have a better chance of winning together if there is a more powerful movement on the streets, around kitchen tables, in universities and in schools, in workplaces and at the pubs.

And we need non-violent civil disobedience. The types of civil disobedience that have been so crucial throughout history in securing change, from ending slavery to gaining women's suffrage, from workers’ rights to civil rights.

Big coal and gas corporations have too much power. They behave like criminal cartels, buying off governments, engaging in sports washing and not giving a damn about the damage they cause. And it is a power which is state sanctioned. 

They’re extorting us, and they’re being protected by the state. 

This isn’t about the government protecting jobs, because coal and gas threaten the millions of jobs that rely on a safe climate. It isn’t about the benefit to the economy, because the gas industry is a systemic non payer of tax. 

Labor has sold us out to the coal and gas corporations for a few thousand in donations. They’ve sold out our kids and the future generations. And they’ve sold out working people.  

This is the fight we’re in. The world’s greediest and most dangerous corporations, backed by the political class. 

The Liberals and Nationals were kicked out of office for thumbing their nose at the climate crisis for being callous and captured, but with Labor, it’s somehow more disappointing, because you know they know what they’re doing is wrong. Some Labor MPs might not get into politics to help out Woodside, but sure enough they end up there. 

Now, we need to embrace the importance of protest and civil disobedience. We must come together and fight back.  

Rising Tide has been doing this for a generation now. “Just stop oil” protesters disrupted the Ashes and Wimbledon. The Extinction Rebellion has been shutting down the streets. There needs to be more. More protests, more rallies, more non-violent civil disobedience, more organising politically and more power and wealth back to the people. 

We need to celebrate our activists and open our movements up to all. Someone smart once said to me campaigns are like nature, and in nature there isn’t scarcity but abundance, and that in a campaign we mustn’t think there’s only one pathway, or one simple set of actions, everyone must do everything they can, whatever it is, whether it’s knitting for refugees or door knocking in your community.  

We might not all want to climb a coal bridge or sit in the foyer of Woodside, but we need to back the right of people to do so, and celebrate and feel joy from their action. 

It might cause a temporary disruption, but that’s nothing compared to the death and devastation being inflicted by global boiling. 

Radical, non-violent civil disobedience against the action of big corporations backed by the state are never going to be sanctioned by the government. As a former lawyer, the law is often complex, but the morality is simple. 

This country is built on the back of civil disobedience. The Wave Hill Walk off, the Franklin Dam rallies and the Green bans - these were often against the law, but they were on the side of what’s right.   

These halls we stand in are built by those who fought for their safety and their rights and fought back against unethical laws. 

Our laws have made it legal to destroy our world by mining and burning coal and gas. Our environment laws do not protect us. Our laws must change so they give power and wealth to the people. 

This is why we need a strong movement who, like the labour movement, will once again take people back to the streets. We need a movement with real power. 

With Labor hell bent on opening more coal and gas mines, we need to build an even more powerful movement and get in behind the Disrupt Burrup Hub, Rising Tide and Extinction Rebellion and those who are prepared to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience.

We need to stop all new coal and gas. Everyone needs to do everything.