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45 Years of Acting Up: Talking tactics

Friends of the Earth podcast history series made in collaboration with 3CR 855 AM community radio show Acting Up! 
Monday 2.00pm-2.30pm.  Ratbags, peaceniks and agents of change, resistance radio that explores the movements that made us. 

45 years of Acting Up! Talking tactics from lobbying to locking on audio episode

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Presenter: Phil Evans
Guests: Mara Bonacci, Merryn Redenbach

Dirty coal

Protestors converge on Hazelwood coal power station 2009

For over 45 years, Friends of the Earth has lobbied to influence government policies campaigning on environmental and social justice issues.  Direct actions have involved a toilet sit-in, a Tahiti ketch voyage, a giant inflatable whale, scaling infrastructure and banner drops.  Blockades, bike rides and road trips maintain resistance, convergence, community education, occupations and media spread the word.  Discover Friends of the Earth’s winning strategies and tenacious tactics lobbying and locking on from the 1970s onwards.


Key moments: Friends of the Earth tactics from lobbying to locking on

1974 FOE Melbourne supports an Australian vessel sailing to Moruroa to protest Pacific nuclear testing.  Activist Rolf Heimann's Tahiti ketch sailed from St Kilda pier after a speech by Jim Cairns, to the sounds of a jazz band. FOE Melbourne raises money and publishes ‘Greenpeace Pacific Bulletins’ to support the voyage.  Over the years, the bulletins morph into FOE magazine ‘Chain Reaction’.  FOE Melbourne protests save Baw Baw frogs from a proposed ski run.

1975 FOE Melbourne holds a lavatory sit-in at Melbourne Airport to protest the supersonic, luxury Concorde aircraft.  FOE organises a Ride Against Uranium, 250 people ride from Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide to Canberra.  FOE Melbourne campaigns and educates the community lobbying governments to bring in lead-free petrol by the mid-1980s.

1976 FOE sets up the Atom-Free Embassy outside the Australian Atomic Energy Commission at Lucas Heights, NSW, lock-on’s and truck blockades ensue.

1977 Barricades are set-up on Alexandra Parade, Collingwood to stop the construction of the F19, later renamed the Eastern freeway, raising community support, and many protesters are arrested.  FOE Melbourne joins blockades to prevent loading and shipping of uranium from wharfs in Sydney and Melbourne where mounted police charge at protesters.  FOE Melbourne mobilizes action around the International Whaling Commission in Canberra, collaborating with FOE Canberra and FOE international.  Anti-whaling activists block the corridor of the motel with a giant inflatable Willie the Whale, trapping Japanese delegates in their rooms. Police slash Willie attracting global publicity.

Activist Rolf Heimann is gaoled for protesting the docking of a nuclear submarine.  Heimann’s book, 'Knocking on Heaven's Door', published by FOE, is an activist travelogue opposing nuclear testing in the Pacific.  A Women’s edition of Chain Reaction magazine publishes articles on sexism, women at work, and feminism.

1980 The Victorian ALP government signs a joint venture agreement with Alcoa to build an aluminium smelter at Portland on a site adjacent to the town on an area of cultural significance to traditional owners, the Gournditch-Jmara people.  FOE occupies the site, and despite a successful High Court challenge, the smelter is built.

1982 FOE establishes an Atom-free embassy in Canberra.  A world bike-ride for peace, from Canberra to Darwin, raises awareness of Australia's role in the nuclear fuel cycle. 

1983 FOE joins the Hazardous Chemicals Collective campaigning against the bulk chemical facility located at Coode Island in Melbourne's inner west, exposing the threat posed by dioxins.  FOE Melbourne works with the Aboriginal Mining Information Centre as part of a successful campaign to stop destructive plans for leach mining of gold in Victoria.

1983 – 1984 FOE activists take on a lead role at the anti-uranium mining blockade at Roxby Downs, SA organised by the Coalition for a Nuclear Free Australia, where hundreds of people hinder the establishment of Olympic Dam operations. 

FOE protests nuclear-powered ships visiting Victorian ports.  FOE and Movement Against Uranium Mining activists occupy the Uranium Information Centre in Melbourne.  Peter Milton, Labour MP for La Trobe and later a FOE member, walks out on Paul Keating's Treasury budget speech announcing the ALP government's decision to resume uranium sales to France, causing an uproar in Parliament.  FOE Oakleigh local group protests and saves a strip of heathland from being turned into a soccer ground.

1990 Following the Roxby Downs uranium shipment blockades, the first Nuclear Exposure Tour is organised by the Anti-Uranium Collective at FOE.  Tour participants witness the nuclear industry first hand, listen to Aboriginal people, see the country affected, and learn about the anti-nuclear movement.  FOE Radioactive Exposure tours continue over the next 30 years.  FOE blockades logging operations in Western Victoria.

1991 FOE supports a campaign to stop the establishment of a McDonalds restaurant in the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne.  FOE works with allied organisations, under the banner of Combined Environment Groups, lobbying the Federal government to successfully stop the relocation of both the Coode Island bulk chemical facility and the East Coast Armaments Complex to a Port Phillip Bay headlands site.  FOE organises protest events attended by several thousand people demonstrating outside The Australian International Defence Exhibition held in Canberra.  Melbourne activists help co-ordinate the blockade and run the protest camp for the duration of the weapons manufacturers’ trade fare.

1992 FOE works with an umbrella group, Disarm the Skies Campaign Coalition, to organise actions outside the Aerospace Expo at Avalon, west of Melbourne.  FOE leads community mobilisations against Australia’s involvement in the Gulf War.
The East Gippsland Forest Network merges with FOE Melbourne campaigning for over five years to protect Victoria's forests.  For seven years under the Kennett Liberal State government, FOE Melbourne activates community politicisation and supports resistance at a grassroots level across Victoria. FOE staff, members and activists play a significant role on picket lines, supporting campaigns and training protesters in non-violent action, police liaison, and community organising.

1993 FOE Melbourne demonstrates outside the CRA AGM in Melbourne.   FOE Melbourne’s Water Collective examines local issues and infrastructure in the catchments of Port Phillip and Western Port Bays, lobbying for a review of the sewerage strategy of Melbourne Water, and produces a book 'Not Just Down the Drain', promoting domestic re-use of grey water.  FOE Melbourne joins the Wilderness Society and Concerned Residents of East Gippsland to form the East Gippsland Forest Alliance, leading blockades and campaigns to win protections for forests.

1994 FOE Melbourne works with the Kerrup Jmara community to set up a tent embassy in the main street of Portland, VIC to protest endemic racism.  FOE Melbourne is pivotal in the Coalition Against Freeway Extensions and activists blockade road works on Alexandra Parade for over a month. 

1996 FOE Melbourne helps to establish the Otway Ranges Environment Network (OREN). OREN achieves the first prosecution for a breach of a logging permit on private land in Victoria, exposing the extent of logging on private land.  FOE Melbourne helps to organise a blockade of a train, the 'extinction express', carrying timber logged from Gippsland forests to a woodchip mill near Geelong for export to produce paper.  FOE Melbourne works with Geelong and Otway community activists to occupy the Midways woodchip mill.  

1997 - 1998 FOE Melbourne hosts Indigenous Solidarity gatherings for Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists from around Australia.  After the 1998 conference, Indigenous delegates travel to the Barmah forest to an Indigenous-only strategy session hosted by the Yorta Yorta community.

1999 FOE Melbourne activists support traditional owners to blockade logging operations in the Cobboboonee forests in the Barwon south-west region of Victoria.  FOE Melbourne participates in a Yorta Yorta occupation of the Dharnya Cultural Centre in Barmah State Park.  Elders request ongoing support towards their main aim to regain management of traditional lands. FOE Melbourne's Barmah-Millewa campaign begins.

Massive protests against the World Economic Forum meeting held in Melbourne.  FOE Melbourne actively supports the successful campaign against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment which would have restricted government regulation of international investment and corporate behaviour.

2002 FOE becomes a founding member of the Victorian Peace Network and joins anti-war rallies to protest the invasion of Iraq.

2005 FOE plays a key role in organising a peaceful protest attended by hundreds of people doing a silly walk-on Hazelwood Power Station, La Trobe Valley, VIC calling for an end to coal-power.

2009 Two protestors chain themselves to a conveyor and over 400 protestors converge on the coal-powered Hazelwood Power Station, calling for the government to invest in renewable energy.  Protesters from Greenpeace, Environment Victoria and Friends of the Earth participate, and 22 people are arrested.

2010 Nuclear Freeways campaigners travel from Sydney and Melbourne through northern Victoria and South Australia meeting up at the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance meeting held in Alice Springs, NT.  Quit Coal peaceful protest staged at Hazelwood Power Station with activists forming a human solar thermal power station.  Horse-back protest action planned by farming communities most effected by coal seam gas fracking proposed for Victoria.

2011 Quit Coal Melbourne banner drops, ‘Switch off Hazelwood, Turn on Renewables’.  FOE Melbourne Yes 2 Renewables campaign lobbies for clean, green energy alternatives.

2012 FOE Melbourne's Quit Coal activists climb onto the roof of Victoria’s Parliament House dropping a banner, and protesters lock-on to pillars at the front of the building.  After years of lobbying by Anthony Amis from FOE Melbourne, the Federal regulator restricts the use of the timber treatment chemical Copper Chromium Arsenic.

2013 FOE Melbourne's Quit Coal campaigners scale a cooling tower at the coal-fired Yallourn Power Station, Latrobe Valley and lock-on for 30 hours, the longest occupation of a power station in Australia's history.

2014 FOE’s Radioactive Exposure Tour journeys from Melbourne to Muckaty, north of Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, to protest the proposed site of a national radioactive waste dump. After extensive resistance by Muckaty traditional owners and activists, the Federal government abandons the waste dump plans.  FOE Barmah-Millewa campaign successfully mobilises community pressure to stall damaging 'scientific logging trials' in River Red Gum national parks.  FOE Melbourne's Yes 2 Renewables campaign organises an 11-week fact-finding road trip starting from Hepburn Wind farm to raise community awareness.  FOE Melbourne puts the issue of unconventional gas firmly on the State political agenda, calling for renewable energy in the lead up to the Victorian election.

2015 onwards …
FOE Melbourne continues to work towards a sustainable and equitable future, operating on a collective basis and utilising a consensus decision-making model to empower individuals and communities.  Friends of the Earth Melbourne campaigns include ACT on CLIMATE, ACE Nuclear Free Collective, Economic Justice, Forest Collective, River Country, Strzelecki Koala Action team, Sustainable Cities, Yes 2 Renewables and other climate campaign work.

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