Congratulations! Minutes ago Parliament voted down a native forest industry proposal to classify the burning of native forests for power as renewable energy. As Rob Oakeshott said in Parliament today, GetUp ran "a pretty stinging campaign". This is an important victory for native forests and genuine renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal.
This comes on the back of a massive few weeks for GetUp members who have been creating national headlines. The year is still young but here’s just three ways, best enjoyed alongside a cuppa, that you’ve already made an impact.
1 – Today: A big win for forests!
Just half an hour ago, the Parliament voted down a motion that would have seen taxpayer dollars pay for ancient native forests to be burned for power generation. The vote was so close that the Speaker had to use his deciding vote – meaning every vote counted!
In our annual survey, GetUp members voted protecting Australia’s native forests and securing investments in renewable energy as our top 2 priority issues. As the Parliament prepared last year’s clean energy package, the Greens and forestry campaigners convinced the Government and the Independents that the burning of native forests shouldn’t be counted as ‘renewable energy’. But then the logging industry pressured Rob Oakeshott into proposing a motion that would overrule this, and see the Government’s renewable energy budget used to fund the burning of native forests for power! Immediately, GetUp members along with our partners at The Wilderness Society, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and others, sprung into action.
- 33,465 of us petitioned Rob Oakeshott to drop his motion.
- Hundreds of GetUp members chipped in to run a newspaper ad in Rob Oakeshott’s electorate about the issue and thousands chipped into a TV ad that ran nationally, focused particularly in the electorates of key independents.
- Thousands of members phoned and wrote to their local MP in key independent electorates urging them not so support Rob Oakeshott’s proposal and many thousands more placed phone calls to Government MP’s to ensure their support on this issue.
- Andrew Wilkie, responding to the requests of GetUp members, gave a commitment not to support the motion, telling members: "I was inherently suspicious of this proposal out of concern it would become the reason for continuing broad scale native forest logging as happened with woodchips. Having now consulted with stakeholders I’m pleased to be able to confirm I will not support the motion."
- Tony Windsor, with a key vote on the motion, also responded to GetUp members’ requests, promising to do substantial research into what the logging industry were proposing. Today he voted against it, joining with the Government and the Greens, who’ve been crucial in securing this outcome.
Thanks to everyone who took action!
2 – Standing up to homophobic attack ads.
Last week we featured in TV news bulletins nationwide with our campaign to hold Bob Katter accountable for his new homophobic attack ads. Our response ad, featuring a heart-warming message from Bob’s half-brother Carl, a gay rights advocate, has spearheaded a national backlash against Mr. Katter’s comments. Gaining public attention to the voices of those supporting love and equality was crucial in drowning out the voices of those spreading hate.
- Our response ad made news bulletins on Channels 10, 7, ABC, and SBS.
- Carl Katter made appearances on The Today Show, The Circle, and The Project to discuss the campaign.
- It was covered in The Australian, The Courier Mail, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Brisbane Times and more.
- GetUp members’ donations allowed us to book every available ad spot possible before the Queensland election, doing our best to ensure every young gay and lesbian Australian who saw Bob Katter’s bigoted ad sees our counter-message of equality and hope.
- Here’s one of the amazing responses online: "I’m 21 and when I saw ‘that’ ad by Bob Katter, I was so devastated. I felt so ashamed of myself for being myself. That was the first time in years I felt that way. This response by Carl made me feel no longer ashamed. Thanks for speaking up Carl!"
3 – Front page action against the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.
GetUp members took urgent action when media reports revealed the damage a massive sea floor dredging operation (to make way for coal and coal seam gas export facilities) is having on the Great Barrier Reef. UNESCO, the UN body in charge of protecting world heritage sites, was so outraged that they decided to send an investigative team to Australia. In December, GetUp member Lincoln delivered a petition to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris on behalf of over 75,000 of us. Since then:
- The petition has continued to grow as GetUp members shared it with their friends, family and colleagues and has now been signed by an incredible 100,740 people!
- Last Sunday over 400 GetUp members stood in pouring rain in Cairns, as a massive show of support for the Great Barrier Reef, to send a clear message to UNESCO and the state and federal governments – "Save Our Reef".
- Then in Brisbane on Monday GetUp members packed the Brisbane Convention Centre for a joint forum with the ‘Lock the Gate Alliance’ and then marched on the state government Executive Building to put the issue of coal seam gas mining and its impact on agricultural land on the Queensland state election agenda.
- 9,523 GetUp members wrote submissions and sent in photos to explain to UNESCO why the Great Barrier Reef is an integral part of what makes Australia great and why governments are not doing enough to protect it. When we handed the submission to UNESCO they were blown away by scale of responses and said that GetUp members had made this a global issue.
- Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke then delayed his decision on the massive Abbot Point coal export facility (part of the area in North Queensland we are fighting to protect) until later this year which is a fantastic step in the right direction but we need to keep the pressure on to ensure no further industrial developments are granted in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area until the full strategic assessment, which is currently underway, is complete.
We’ll know whether our efforts to lobby UNESCO have been successful when the Annual World Heritage Committee meets this June, in Russia, to decide what action they’ll take to help protect the Great Barrier Reef.
As Louise, a GetUp member, wrote to us last week: "I feel very strongly about the environment and the Great Barrier Reef is an icon not to be touched. I feel very strongly about GetUp as well and I bless the day when it was formed. Congratulations and keep up the good works. This is one occasion when I wish I were younger and could do more physically. At nearly 75 I have to be content with my "war of words"."
GetUp is more than any one campaign or single success. Your actions breathe life into our shared progressive principles of social justice, economic fairness and environmental sustainability.
Everything we achieve together is funded by those who chip in small, weekly donations to keep our movement going. Their contributions cover the production of our ads, the legal advice, website expenses, and overheads for our small team of staff, interns and volunteers. $4 a week can make a huge difference — together, our small change is changing Australia. If you’d like to be part of that, please help out at:
Thank you for being a part of this movement and congratulations on your success so far this year.
Simon Sheikh, for the team at GetUp!