By Jane Salmon
This summer a rather lot has changed.
What’s the bet that next Tuesday Scott Morrison shakes firies hands in the courtyard of Federal Parliament and asks for a minute’s silence for people, property, homes, businesses, dreams, bush and animals lost to fire. He’ll talk about a great new plan for a fire fighting regime and early response system. He manly even belatedly promise an extra $60 million in aerial water bombers.
And then he’ll trundle inside to plan another distraction. Oh yes, the shiny firefighter medals.
“How good are these guys?” Maybe Tony Abbott will be invited to pop in for old times’ sake.
There will be an attempt by the gurning smirker to look grave. And then it’ll be on to the usual waffle that opens the annual Parliament with a full two hours of sentiment about everything from emergency powers to fight, er, er, coronavirus to volcanoes and floods. Make that another hour in Question Time.
Scotty from Marketing will have deployed every PR resource at his disposal to keep the media from touching on delayed responses, fibs about holidays, sports rorts, eroding human rights, shit internet, the IPA’s wish list and the general case for a federal ICAC. Distraction, distraction, distraction. He may have to sacrifice a few Ministers too. This he is more than willing to do.
Dutton will have to mention some hastily launched boats from Sri Lanka or China. There will be talk of airport security, Iran, a mass rollout of the Indue Card announced and harsh words for dole bludgers.
There will be a new weather event to worry about.
Every existential threat has a purpose. Distract, distract, distract!
“Your economy is crumbling, jobs are dwindling: blame foreigners, shut up and get back to work. We’re in charge.”
But in fact, clusters of voters are keenly aware that the team “in charge” are the ones systematically breaking the economy with neglect and selloffs, wheeling, rorts and dealing, along with the climate and any remaining faith in democracy.
They are also aware that dreams of mitigating damage to climate were trashed so that the coal lobby could dodge more tax and offshore more profit. They know that more tourism jobs have disappeared than were ever in coal.
Standing outside the federal Parliament on Tuesday are the people who will not be distracted. They too have been coughing from smoke, burnt and/or battered by storms. They don’t buy the line of ordinary climate fluctuation. They also have their PhDs in Physics and other hard sciences to inform them. They are well aware that some of those storms and heatwaves can now be sheeted home to climate change. Scenes from ‘The Commons‘ TV series, set in the future, already looks rather too familiar.
So when you see the blimp of a fat coal-hugger in his sluggos, when you see the placards, when you hear the speakers or see the firefighters who have fought too hard and too long with too few resources to be fobbed off with a shiny medal, when you hear the songs and you see the ring of red women, you are seeing a growing band of conscious Australians. They know not to be quiet. They know that this government is failing them. They know it is not safe to trundle on with laissez-faire politics.
They are planning their convergence on Canberra as you read this. This weekend they will already be encamped there, discussing the science, singing songs about climate denial and listening to experts. They will come from fire grounds across NSW, East Gippsland, parts of the Sunshine Coast and also from Adelaide.
They know that fire prevention is even more complex than mere logging or hazard reduction.
They are already grieving for some of the most beautiful places and wildlife on earth.
They’ve called themselves The Peoples Climate Assembly. They want a future, they want what ordinary workers want and they come from every walk of life. Some of them voted Liberal and then lost homes. They aren’t in it for Greenie status, climate change jobs or money or career. They aren’t there for Left or Right. They are there for change. Because next summer is likely to be hotter and more chaotic still.
I have two kids who want a future. Their Canberra cousins have been fighting fires, patching up burns victims in hospitals, bandaging koala paws and trying not to breathe in too much ash.
We have a choice. Will you accept the bullshit that the COALition Government is doing its best? Or will you join us?
We are assembling from 10:00 am on Feb 04 at Federation Mall. The peaceful demonstration has been authorised by Police. Your participation will have an impact.
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