Social Movements Essay

945 words - 4 pages

A social movement can be loosely defined as a group in society united with a common belief or goal, and lacking distinct organizational structure . The broad nature of this definition aligns with the nature of social movements themselves, as social movements can lend itself to a wide array of issues. Some of these gather momentum and manage to influence the political sphere of the time, and others seemingly do not get off the ground. Australia has indeed seen its fair share of social movements. In this essay, I will be discussing and comparing three social movements; environmentalism, anti war/peace movement and Indigenous rights, and discussing their successes and shortcomings and ...view middle of the document...

The left wing NSWBLF (New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation) decided to assist these activists and hold what is now known as ‘green bans’. What were effectively mass strikes had significant outcomes for the environmental movement and the major developers of the time. The bans, which spanned for 4 years, stopped major developments across Sydney worth a total of 5 billion dollars and perhaps more importantly played a key role in the introduction of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (1979). This important piece of legislation introduced numerous environmental protections to land including the requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment for any prospective development to be considered . The ethos of the industrial workers was that of their social responsibility as labourers, in that they have a responsibility and a right to insist that their work be used in positive ways . This type of environmental labourer activism was the first of its kind in the world, and inspired similar environmental activism both nationally and internationally .

Although many of the iconic environmental battles have taken place many decades ago, it must be emphasized that there is still a strong environmental presence in Australia today, however the challenges they face are of a different nature. To understand the relevance of the environmental movement in Australia today, one merely has to look at what is arguably the most influential minor party in Australia, ‘The Greens’. The Greens party is the symbol of environmentalism in Australia both historical and present, and despite its critics has seen noteworthy popularity in both upper and lower house elections around the country . The formation of the United Tasmania Party in 1972, which later broke off to become the Greens party, was the result of a number of environmental protests in Tasmania . This drew criticisms with the party seen as ‘radical’ and ‘extreme’ and as political...

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