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Peter Marshal from Firefighters Union addressing picket | by John Englart (Takver)
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Peter Marshal from Firefighters Union addressing picket

Climate activists held a picket outside the ministerial offices of Peter Batchelor, Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, at 1 Spring Street, Melbourne highlighting his attendance at a $3000 a head Victorian Coal and Energy Conference meeting at Taralgon in the La Trobe Valley and the Brumby Government's continued in-action on climate change and support for the coal and fossil fuel industry at the expense of developing the renewable energy industry.

 

Peter Marshal attended representing the United Firefighters Union, the members of which are facing increasing risks from more intense and more frequent natural disasters as a result of climate change and global warming.

 

Transcript of speech

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I am here representing our 2000 members across Victoria today, in the MFB and CFA, who once again as Jasmine mentioned, dealt with more than 12 months ago now, one of the worst natural disasters this State has ever seen: Black Saturday.

 

You hear in the mainstream media the fact that the climate change fringe groups are just that - they are fringe groups - they are a minority of extremists. Well I'm here to say that is not true! We know that is not true! And the real extremists in this country are the politicians and corporate interests who would do nothing in the face of potential apocalypse, or at least one of th worst ecological and economic disasters our species has ever seen.

 

It's an issue that doesn't just affect trees and bugs and animals, it affects working people, like the police here today and members of the police association, like the members of my union the United Firefighters Union and all workers in Victoria. It is an issue that is widely important and that crosses the normal political boundaries. It has universal appeal.

 

In fact our union was so concerned about the effects of climate change on our members that we put members money into commissioning a University of Sydney research paper on the effects climate change would have on bushfires and other natural disasters. It actually found that there was severe or significant impacts on the kind of fires our members fight everyday.

 

In places like Mildura the report found that extreme fire days could increase up to one third of the year, up to 90 days a year. Which of course is hugely concerning for the 2000 firefighters that have to deal with natural disasters. The question for Mr Batchelor, for Mr Brumby and Mr Rudd, and I say this as a staffer of a union that has been affiliated to the Labor party for over 100 years almost, is are you prepared to increase the risk on working people in this state, particularly firefighters, but also threaten the future of future generations.

 

I'd like to on behalf of our members support you and express solidarity from the union movement and also encourage other unionists to support the climate movement and the movement for climate action.

 

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Taken on March 29, 2010