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45 Years of Acting Up: Friends of the Earth transport campaigns

Friends of the Earth podcast history series made in collaboration with 3CR 855 AM community radio show Acting Up! Monday 2.00pm.  Ratbags, peaceniks and agents of change, resistance radio that explores the movements that made us. 

45 Years of Acting Up! Wrong way go back audio episode

Listen up mp3
Presenter: Em Gayfer
Guests: Tony Murphy, Domenica Settle (CAFE campaign), Claudia Gallois (FoE Sustainable Cities campaign) and local resident Keith Fitzgerald.

Freeway blockadeSustainable cities protest

Friends of the Earth has a long history supporting communities and lobbying governments to create sustainable cities, from the 1970s anti-F19-Eastern freeway protests to the recent win to stop the East West link.  Friends of the Earth and allies actively campaign against costly, polluting mega road projects and expensive toll roads, calling for affordable, equal access to better public transport systems.  Listen and learn how to stop freeways and reclaim space for bikes and people to travel around more liveable urban environments.  Keep reading to get involved to make our cities greener and create a sustainable transport future.

Key moments in Friends of the Earth Sustainable Cities campaigns

1975 FOE campaigns against massive inner-city high-rise developments in Sydney, NSW in support of trade union led Green Bans. 

Barricades are put up across Alexandra Parade, Collingwood, Victoria to blockade the construction of the F19, later renamed the Eastern freeway. The anti-F19 campaign grows into a key activity for FOE and generates strong community support, with dozens of protesters arrested.  The F19 protests hit the headlines and force the issue of better transport planning on to government agendas bolstering future campaigns.

1989  A new FOE group is established in Adelaide and gets involved in green city activism, including the Green City Program, focusing on sustainability issues, and helps to initiate the Halifax eco-urban development in Adelaide.

1994 FOE Melbourne plays a pivotal role in the Coalition Against Freeway Extensions (CAFE). CAFE activists leaflet communities and blockade road expansion operations on Alexandra Parade for over a month.  The local community with allied and CAFE activists undertake a series of direct actions to obstruct the Eastern freeway extension works including a road blockade, bulldozer sit-in, and Vic Roads office occupation organised via telephone trees.  Supported by FOE liaisons, all but one of the protesters arrested have their charges dropped.  Proposed massive freeway expansion plans are slowed down by the protests and campaigning raises community awareness.

1996 CAFE morphs into Streets for People transport campaign and research and analysis shows the need for more inner-city bike paths.  When local governments refuse to listen to the findings, FOE paints its own bicycle paths on city roads, attracting formal recognition.

1999 Streets for People is established as a transport campaign at FOE Melbourne, focusing on proactive, positive and creative action.  Transport issues are also prominent in the work of FOE Sydney.

2000 FOE Sydney works with allied groups and successfully advocates for $1.4 billion public funding for the Parramatta to Chatswood Rail link.

2013 – 2015 The first stage of a $6 billion East West link mega road project is announced by the Victorian Liberal government, connecting the Eastern freeway via a 4.4 km tunnel from Hoddle Street, Clifton Hill, across to CityLink at Parkville, due for completion in 2020.  Melbourne residents, local Council, community groups and FOE activists rally to form an anti-East West link protest movement and public education campaign.  During 18 months of resistance, protesters lock on to drill equipment at Westgarth Street for two days and stop works, marking a turning point and attracting media attention.  Then in Opposition, Daniel Andrews campaigns against the East West link project in the 2014 Victorian State election, promising to abandon it if Labor wins government.  Labor is elected and the new Premier scraps the East West link project.

2019 -  2020 Victorian State budget includes new investment in public transport and active transport, but this is dwarfed by $16 billion commitment to a proposed North East Link toll road.  FOE Melbourne Sustainable Cities campaigns for Environmental Effects Statement submissions driving a push-back against the North East Link mega project.

Sustainable Cities collective calls for investment in construction of the Melbourne Metro 2 Rail project to secure a pipeline of jobs and improve public transport in the medium term.  

FOE Melbourne activists and locals converge to stage a mock opening of Doncaster Rail promised years earlier for construction along the median strip of the Eastern freeway.  Speeches by community members call on the State government to review mega toll road thinking and planning. 

Melbourne FOE and local communities celebrate the Suburban Rail Loop proposed for a new underground rail link, including additional stations connecting major rail lines from Frankston to Werribee via Melbourne Airport, and activists offer community feedback.
FOE Melbourne joins community activists to deliver a petition on behalf of 700 people to stop to the North East Link toll road.  Member of Parliament Sam Hibbins and Victorian Greens spokesperson for Transport, Clifford Hayes, deliver the petition to key State government decision makers. 

Rallying on the steps of Victorian Parliament House, community members and FOE activists call on the Premier to develop a 50-year sustainable transport plan. 

Locals residents and FOE activists gather at an MP’s Box Hill office to take a stand against the North East Link, conveying opposition to the mega road project and raising concerns about dangerous levels of air pollution.  The campaign builds momentum with regular banner drops over freeway bridges and leafleting local areas.

Dozens of community members from Friends of the Earth Banyle join FOE Melbourne supporters to gather outside the Minister for Planning’s office in Fitzroy protesting the approval of the North East Link.  In April 2020, FOE Melbourne calls on the Victorian government to stop early works as North East Link contractors begin excavation and dig up dangerous remnant asbestos.

2020 Friends of the Earth Melbourne: mobilise - resist – transform

Sustainable Cities campaign is a collective of Friends of the Earth Melbourne working for a more liveable and connected city.  Key priorities include calling for investment in public transport, encouraging active travel, to stop building new mega freeways and toll roads, and to a transition to freight via rail.  Sustainable Cities campaigns in partnership with the Public Transport Users Association.

Join Friends of the Earth Sustainable Cities collective

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