Premier Gladys Berejiklian defied as students attend climate change rally in Sydney
Students were warned they could face disciplinary action for skipping class. (ABC News: Taryn Southcombe)
Thousands of NSW students have skipped class to attend a protest in Sydney to call for action on climate change, defying calls from Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes to stay in school.
The event, being held at Town Hall, was expected to be one of the largest of the nationwide climate rallies today.
The large crowd of young people, predominantly students, cheered loudly amid calls for an end to the Adani coal mine in Queensland and 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
Among those gathered were rock star Jimmy Barnes and Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who were spotted alongside the students wielding colourful signs.
Rock star Jimmy Barnes was seen alongside students at Town Hall. (ABC News: Taryn Southcombe)
Many were attending against the advice of the NSW Government’s leaders and conservative commentators.
Students have called on governments to do more to reduce fossil fuel emissions, but they have faced resistance from government leadership and conservative commentators.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian criticised Opposition Leader Michael Daley, who this week backed schoolkids planning to protest.
“I encourage young people to feel passionately about important issues including climate change,” she said.
“But to suggest that they should strike during school hours is grossly irresponsible. I want to encourage students during school hours to express their views, to discuss their views in the classroom or the playground.
“But to take time off to go to a protest is not acceptable.
“And I was quite taken aback and shocked that the Leader of the Opposition thinks that’s appropriate.”
The Coalition was criticised by protesters for its perceived inaction on climate change. (ABC News: Taryn Southcombe)
The Department of Education said all students at government schools were expected to be in class and could face disciplinary action if they attended.
“Any student not in class will be marked absent,” a spokesman said.
“And unexplained absences may be subject to the school’s disciplinary code.”
During a media interview yesterday, Mr Stokes warned students they would be breaking the law if they skipped school.
“Our school system is compulsory,” he told 2GB.
“Around a fifth of the year, there is no school, so there are plenty of occasions for kids that are passionate about a whole range of issues to engage in extracurricular activities.
“The law is clear and always has been. Kids are required to be at school on school days.”