By Anthony Gleeson
What is it about people like Brad that drives him to sit nine metres above the ground on a pole that’s rigged up so that it blocks traffic getting into and out of the busy Melbourne (Naarm) Port for a number of hours on a cold Monday morning.
Such a pole creates a dilemma for the authorities. If they detach any of the three ropes holding the pole up, it will fall, Brad as well. He has abseiling gear and could get himself down, but the plan is to stay there for a predetermined amount of time, or till the police rescue squad get a cherry picker to remove him.
Brad’s speech while on his perch was next level. Space doesn’t allow for it here, but if interested get in touch and I’ll send the link.
The planning for this is meticulous and takes a number of weeks. All eventualities are carefully gone through with the safety of everyone involved being paramount. A trained team of fellow activists are with Brad. He wouldn’t have been able to get where he was without the help of this team. Like all Blockade Australia’s actions it runs with military-like precision.
Down below, as expected, there’s nothing that angers busy truck drivers quite so much as being held up from delivering their loads to, or from their destinations. Drivers get out of their trucks and readily show their disdain when they realise what the hold up is. Brad is not surprised at the reception he receives.
What drives people to take risky protest action?
Many people find it hard to understand why more and more ‘ordinary’ Aussies like Brad would put themselves in a situation where they’re the subject of abuse because they’re deliberately disrupting people’s ability to go about their day to day lives.
The answer is simple: Concern for the impacts the whole world faces as more and more unprecedented extreme weather events wreak havoc. In other words, the climate crisis that’s unfolding around us.
Think of the more than thirty thousand Pakistanis who died and the 33 million who were displaced by unprecedented floods around this time last year. Or the death and destruction caused by Canadian fires over the last couple of months. Or the unprecedented droughts in the Horn of Africa. These are real people with real loved ones.
Or if you want it closer to home, there are still thousands of Aussies trying to get their lives back together as well as grieving their deceased loved ones from unprecedented floods in Lismore in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales.
An increasing number of people are prepared to do this, such is our concern for the serious nature of the climate situation we face. Like Brad, our consciences won’t allow us to be quiet on it. People from a very broad cross-section of society are training up. People from all backgrounds, ages, genders, sexual orientations, belief systems. All united in a desire to protect our common atmosphere and to regain our democracy which has been stolen by vested interests who continue with business as usual in full knowledge of the dire consequences of that.
Unfortunately the whole system we exist in, is enabling it. No, we can’t sit quietly and watch this happen. That’s why Brad was up the pole yesterday, and others will be tomorrow, and so it will continue.
Right now we have most of the things we need to make this transition to a safer, more just, inclusive, peaceful and healthy post carbon world.
There are only two things lacking: 1/ the political will and 2/ the number of people who are prepared to stand up to change that political will. Quiet concern doesn’t exist for politicians.
I’ll be back next month with another story of a westie making a difference.
Until then, Go well!!
If you know of another westie making a difference for climate change please get in touch via email@example.com and I’ll chase them up. Let’s make this column, like the rest of The Westsider, one that truly reflects what’s going on in the western suburbs of Naarm (Melbourne).