Climate Protest Students Picket Politicians Of All Sides On Day Of Action
They're still too young to vote, but thousands of students have taken their demands for climate action directly to politicians' doorsteps just a fortnight from the federal election.
Around 75 strikes were planned across the country on Friday, organised by student-led organisation Strike 4 Climate.
It's the third organised strike of its type in Australia, coming less than two months after an estimated 1.4 million young people walked out of classrooms across the world to demand stronger climate policies in March.
Students have three demands for parliament -- stop the Adani coalmine in central Queensland, commit to no new coal or gas mining, and introduce a target of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
They're ambitious goals but these kids aren't backing down.
"We have to keep going out on the streets until they do something," 16-year-old student Daisy Jeffrey told 10 daily, having just regained her voice after protesting.
Students and supporters took up residence outside the electorate offices of several federal MPs -- including Scott Morrison, Bill Shorten, Greg Hunt and Cathy O'Toole -- sending the message that protesters don't care which side of politics that this climate action finally comes from.
Outside Tony Abbott's office, students held a sign which read 'Too Hot For Tony In Warringah', as the former PM fights to retain his seat against high profile independent Zali Steggall.
Jeffrey spent the morning with classmates outside the Sydney office of Labor's Anthony Albanese, adamant neither major party is doing enough for the planet.
"I've been asked quite a few times 'why were you outside a Labor office, aren't they meant to be the good guys?'" she said,
"But Labor has failed to meet any one of our three demands, so we were out there protesting today in an effort to get Labor to take action so that we know who we've got going into parliament."
Armed with 'Stop Adani' placards, students made their presence felt -- and heard -- by playing kazoos.
"Albo's office is notoriously good at dealing with sit-ins...so we thought we would make as much noise as possible and it was epic," Jeffrey said with a laugh.
In Melbourne, Liberal Party headquarters closed up shop, pulling down a roller door in the face of hundreds of protesters, before around 20 police officers formed a human chain outside the doors.
"How ridiculous is this?" School Strike 4 Climate said on Twitter.
"Pretty blatant sign that this government refuses to listen to young people's concerns about climate change."
In a statement to 10 daily, Victoria Police said individuals have the right to attend events and protest.
"However we ask that people do so peacefully and respectfully without impact on the rest of the community," the statement said.
The Strike 4 Climate rallies haven't sat well with politicians and conservative commentators since they began. Opposition to youth activism is most commonly attributed to the fact students are missing school to participate, with PM Morrison suggesting kids leave the politics to parliament.
“What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools," Morrison said in November.
Jeffrey, currently in the middle of year 10 at Sydney's selective Conservatorium High School, said she would absolutely rather be in school than on the pavement protesting.
"I would love to be able to stop doing this, I'd love to not cut class, I like doing well at school," she said.
We'll stop when we feel appropriate action has been taken and we feel our politicians are adequately meeting our needs for the future generation, for our generation.
"But until that happens we are going to keep taking ourselves out onto the street because we have no other way of making our voice heard."
Jean Hinchliffe, who was one of the organisers of Friday's protest in Sydney, said she wanted to see the voting age lowered to 16 to give young people a say in their future.
Appearing on The Project, Hinchcliffe said 16 and 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote on a voluntary basis before voting becomes compulsory for them at 18.
"Just because we are not 18, doesn't mean we are idiots," she said.
"And adults as well, even if it is compulsory (to vote), that doesn't make them suddenly more educated than us, just because they are a year or two older."
Asked whether she believed students who weren't as politically engaged as those that attended strikes would still vote, she said more and more young people were becoming politically engaged and wanted a say in their future.
"Even those that aren't engaged enough to come to the strikes doesn't mean they do not care about politics," she added.
Or maybe they care about different issues. They could care about housing or they could care about feminism or gender equality or LGBT issues."
"Just because climate isn't the number one thing they care about doesn't mean they're not engaged.
As the countdown to the May 18 election ticks on, this was the final chance for those not old enough to head to the polls to send a warning to all candidates.
"I was scared, but that fear has been replaced by anger," Jeffrey said when asked if she is scared for her future.
"That can be said for the vast majority of the strikers."
"We know what's going on and the people in parliament know what's going on and the people campaigning to be in parliament know what's up, but the fact they're not doing anything about it, that scares us most of all."