Farmers hate the young

On 18 August student anti-climate change group Generation Zero was brutally suppressed by The Man in response to their latest publicity stunt, a “bus” of recycled cardboard containing some of the organisation’s members, which travelled around Dunedin calling for the Government to invest in smart transport.

The “bus” began its journey at the farmer’s market at 10am, but it ran into an early roadblock when the activists were kicked out by the organiser for “advertising without permission”. Undeterred, the bus wound its informative way around the Octagon and along George Street before heading into the Meridian Mall. On reaching the food court the bus and its passengers were escorted out by security, who determined that Generation Zero had not received permission to spread their message.

Despite this setback, Gen Zero spokesperson Harriet Leadbetter said that the group’s message was well-received by most members of the public: “We were overwhelmed by the support, and it seems that this is an issue that people are aware of and which some people had very strong views on.” Even Meridian security showed an interest: “We gave the security guard escorting us out a run-down on the importance of investing in smart transport, and he seemed pretty impressed.”

Generation Zero pulled the “bus” stunt as part of their 50/50 campaign, which calls for the Government to “move towards a 50/50 funding split between roads and highways and smart transport options”. These options include buses, cycleways, walkways, and rail systems.

The group says this change need not divert much funding away from road maintenance and the like. Generation Zero has calculated a number of potential improvements that could be made to public transport with less than a quarter of the “roads of national significance” budget of $13 billion. According to Leadbetter, the Dunedin public seemed to be on board with the cause. “Some people were surprised at the amount of money, and quite a few asked what they could do to help.”
This article first appeared in Issue 22, 2012.
Posted 5:17pm Sunday 2nd September 2012 by Josie Adams.