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‘Real power comes from the grassroots’

Saturday, May 29, 2010

By Gemma Weedall, Adelaide

Gemma Weedall.

Youth activist and part-time worker Gemma Weedall has been endorsed by the Socialist Alliance to contest the seat of Adelaide in the upcoming federal election.

Weedall recently completed a Bachelor of Social Sciences at the University of Adelaide, where she was a well-known student activist.

She was environment officer on the 2009 Student Representative Council and convened several clubs and collectives. A passionate grassroots climate change activist, Gemma is an active member of the Climate Emergency Action Network (CLEAN)

and the socialist youth organisation, Resistance.

* * *

We are facing a climate emergency. With the effects of climate change already visible globally, and dangerous climate tipping points looming, proceeding with "business as usual" is not an option.

It is clear that politicians won’t take the radical and urgent action that is required on climate change — unless we make them do it.

We need to build a mass movement from the grassroots to demand climate justice and a safe climate future, starting with a commitment to phase out coal and move to 100% renewable energy by 2020.

In April, I attended the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

In Cochabamba, my eyes were opened to the perspectives of people from the countries of the global South, who are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, despite having contributed least to the problem.

They are refusing to accept the destruction of their livelihoods caused by the greed of the North, and are committed to mobilising ordinary people according to the science and for human survival.

Actions to combat climate change in Australia and other major polluting countries must be accompanied by recognition and repayment of the climate debt that has been accumulated by the wealthy countries.

I also took part in the 2010 Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network May Day Brigade.

Venezuela provides inspiring examples of participatory democracy in action. With the support of a government committed to social justice, the Venezuelan people are actively engaged in bringing about positive change through real engagement in their communities and the political process.

Another issue I feel strongly about is the rights of young people, who are among those most vulnerable to unjust government policies in many areas including environment, education, social services and employment.

Young people deserve affordable education and housing, as well as fair and easily accessible support services, which are not being provided by either Labor or Coalition governments.

Young people will also have to bear the burden of climate change resulting from the irresponsible environmental policies of these governments. My generation does not have the luxury of assuming we will inherit a safe climate: we are going to have to fight to for it.

I have also been active in struggles around marriage equality and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people. It is a disgrace that people in Australia continue to be systematically discriminated against and denied their civil and human rights on the basis of sexual orientation.

The Marriage Act and other discriminatory legislation makes s them second-class citizens and fuels homophobia, and cannot be accepted.

I am standing for the seat of Adelaide with the Socialist Alliance because I believe that people and the planet should be prioritised over profits, and I refuse to allow my future and the future of the planet to be sold out to corporate interests.

Real change comes from the grassroots; it’s time for ordinary Australians to stand up and build mass movements for social justice and sustainability — it’s time to take the power back!

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From GLW issue 839

Edited by John Dolva
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