Change is coming. I can feel it. I can even smell it. It smells of dust and death and is tinged with the acrid stench of smoke. Change is pulsing on social media, in the street. It’s the conversation around dinner tables. It’s on the radio. It’s in evacuation centres. On beaches. In the last few weeks, as our country burns, one thing has become evident: It’s impossible to be complacent. People are waking up. They are waking up to the reality that their government has betrayed them. Their prime minister takes a holiday in Hawaii while the country he has been elected to lead is on the critical list. On New Year’s Eve, Scott and Jenny hosted an exclusive dinner party to watch the Sydney Fireworks – meanwhile 500,000 animals burnt, 17 people died, and 28 are missing. At least 10.1 million hectares of country has burned. More than 1,000 buildings are lost.
The people don’t need the trivial indulgence of fireworks. They want compassion. They want recognition. They want change. They want responsibility. Leadership. Renewables. Corporate accountability. They want the kind of change old white men just can’t bring. Distractions just aren’t working anymore. It’s hard to enjoy the spectacular sky formations of Sydney’s NYE fireworks when the climate disaster rages around us. You don’t need fireworks when you’re actually on fire.
This country is burning because of our government’s lack of action, their neglect; they’ve left us in the car while they’ve gone to the pub. And they’ve left the windows up. We’ve been abandoned by those we elected to care for us. The country burns because of denial and self-interest and corporate greed. Try telling the family of one of the volunteer firefighters we’ve lost that climate change is a hoax. Climate change is real, and our government’s lack of action puts them at the heart of the crime.
Scott Morrison lit those fires. Maybe not with a match or a discarded cigarette, but with his dangerous disregard of a worldwide climate emergency. The man who stood in parliament defending our commitment to fossil fuels by brandishing his ‘harmless’ lump of coal must have that same lump of coal for a heart if he can’t recognise the devastation he and his government have caused. His denials, and lack of action, were an incendiary as potent and as deadly as that of any arsonist.
This is not a time for standing still. This is a time for action. Our fire-action plans have to go beyond packing our cars and leaving our homes. Our plans need to extend to how we intend to make systemic changes that address climate change. There is a feeling of anger, of despair and a call for action. For too long we’ve been passive bystanders, expecting our government to facilitate the changes that are needed to navigate our uncertain future. They are the government we’ve elected. We get the inactive government that a disengaged population deserves.
But our comfort zones are gone. They’ve been razed to the ground. The people are becoming dangerous. It’s hard to govern a population when they realise that real power is with the people, not with the government. To address climate change we need a political climate change – where passive voters become active constituents demanding environmental responsibility. We need innovators, visionaries, and most importantly we need new leaders. Fires, Mr Prime Minister, are not an opportunity to raise money for the Liberal Party, as you did in your ad campaign. The people are taking charge. They’ve raised tens of millions of dollars.
This has been the wakeup that Australia needs to avoid more catastrophes. So if this government isn’t listening, then they need to go. #dismisstheprimeminister #dismissthegovernment #stopdismissingclimatechange