Community mobilises on climate

Robert Patterson, co-founder of and ADAC, spearheaded last week's climate meeting. (Ivan Kemp) 294087_12

Matt Hewson

The Geelong community came together last week for a town meeting to discuss how to get their government representatives to listen to their concerns about climate change.

A range of community groups worried about the lack of government action around climate change gathered at Geelong West Town Hall to hear from a range of speakers and take part in workshop activities on Thursday, May 9.

Speakers on the night included Sue Barrett, the strategist behind Independent MP Zoe Daniel’s remarkable 2022 election campaign in the electorate of Goldstein, governance scholar and founding member of CoolGeelong Dr Jeanne Nel and co-founder of A Different Approach Community (ADAC) and Robert Patterson.

Attendees heard speakers present a range of topics centred around engaging with elected officials on climate change and holding them accountable for their decision-making processes.

They also watched a recorded video message from ACT senator David Pocock and participated in a workshop on the use of letitions, prewritten letters to members of parliament formatted and ready for use at on a range of environmental issues.

The community resolved to meet again at Beav’s Bar on Thursday, May 23 at 5pm, with all members of the public invited.

While federal members Richard Marles and Libby Coker were invited months ago to attend the meeting last week, they declined.

Geelong councillors Elise Wilkinson, Jim Mason and Peter Murrihy were in attendance, as was Greens MLC Dr Sarah Mansfield.

Dr Nel said the energy at the meeting was palpable.

“Thursday was a great day to have the meeting, given that the gas strategy was published,” she said.

“People in the room were excited, passionate, and felt very strongly that we need responsible, environmentally sensitive decision-making that’s not driven by power blocs, but driven by what is good for every community, what is good for future generations, what’s good for the environment.”

She said it was disappointing that Mr Marles and Ms Coker did not attend the meeting, despite advanced notice.

“There’s a level of despondence… we are their voters, their constituents, their electorate, and we just cannot get them to speak to us,” Dr Nel said.

“There are many people in Geelong that are very, very concerned about the decisions being made about the environment, and it’s really important that our representatives take note of that.

“We’re a year out from a federal election. The way in which our representatives look after and respond to our concerns will inform our decisions 12 months from now.”