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When I see a tree, enjoy its shade on the (increasingly) hot Sydney days, I always give quiet thanks to the person who planted it, who put it there for the next generation to enjoy. It’s trees and their cooling capabilities that will also make a difference as the planet heats. But we still have to stop digging up the coal.

I grew up in a small city in NZ where it was very clear right from the beginning how each person could made a difference by being involved. I saw this in my town’s fight against a proposed aluminium smelter that would have destroyed a beachside community and also a fragile and unique ecosystem. I saw this in 1981 when the Springboks came on tour to NZ and people fought against these representatives of apartheid. One by one we together decriminalised homosexuality, each standing up to be counted and forcing the change.

In Australia government decision making has become so decoupled from community input that many people are disillusioned and believe politics can’t transform. Who can forget the hundreds of thousands of people across Australia who marched against the Iraq war, only for Howard and his government to take knowingly false intelligence and use that as justification to invade another country. But times are changing and I’m proud to be part of the largest grassroots movement Australia has ever seen, people from all political persuasions, fighting coal and coal seam gas.

Two years ago I became an (‘almost’) full time campaigner against CSG and coal. For 12 years I’d been a senior manager in two of the world’s largest technology companies and I knew this experience could make a difference. I didn’t just want ‘to want’ a government that prioritised environment, education and equity. I didn’t just want to hope there was more democratic inclusion. I wanted to be part of the political change where community need and futures are listened to in the decision making process.

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