Many Australians are unhappy with Scott Morrison’s handling of the bushfire crisis and so they should be. In times of crisis people want leaders to lead. John Howard and Jacinda Ardern both showed great leadership in times of crisis, promising swift action to change gun laws after mass shootings to reassure the people those tragic events would never happen again. Australians now want action on climate change and we hear very little from Scott Morrison on this.
But we shouldn’t be surprised with his inaction. Australians had a choice at the last election between two major parties. The LNP were promising nothing on climate change and many in the party even denying it exists, with a leader who brandished a lump of coal in parliament. The other choice was Labor with clear policies to reduce emissions even further to 45% by 2030 and to introduce the national energy guarantee that the coalition abandoned.
The Greens are the only party to offer decisive action on climate change yet their vote was stagnant. Coal loving Clive Palmer got 3.4% of the vote. He failed to win any seats but his preferences and his big spending anti-Labor advertising campaign helped get the LNP over the line.
Australians had clear choices at the last election. Yes, we knew the Great Barrier Reef was dying and we are in a very bad drought but most of this doesn’t affect those living in their comfortable penthouses in the city. Many city folks have believed climate change won’t affect them for many years into the future. So, at election time Australians chose their franking credits and no capital gains on their investment properties over action on climate change. We wanted action on climate change but we didn’t want to pay for it. Well we are paying for it now and the cost of these fires is just the beginning if nothing changes.
Now only several months post-election Australians have woken up. The voters Scott Morrison fooled with his advertising agency, marketing spin can now see through his lies and deceit for what it is. Climate change is real and is happening right now. Even the most ardent climate deniers are having trouble arguing their point and many are starting to doubt their beliefs. It is affecting us in the cities now. Our lungs are starting to feel like they have had a pack a day cigarette habit for many decades. Kids on school summer holidays who should be spending their holidays on Bondi Beach and in the back-yard pool are now stuck inside with their asthma puffers and play stations as our air quality becomes the worst in the world and spreads all the way to New Zealand.
The bushfire crisis will affect us even more when our insurance premiums arrive this year and the affect these fires will have on the economy will surely send an already sluggish economy into recession. The cost to the economy will be great. The cost to tourism and agriculture will be colossal. The income at country caravan parks and local pubs that rely on the tourist trade this time of year will fall to nothing. Also watch the price of the produce coming from these fire ravaged areas going through the roof stretching the budgets of many who are already finding it tough due to stagnant wage growth. There will be shortages of milk and dairy products. The human cost is incalculable.
Climate change is not a thing that will happen some time in the future. It is here now, today, and if nothing is done it will only get worse. A lot worse. The planet has already warmed by 1C and the Paris Agreement seeks to keep warming below 2C. We are halfway to 2C and with our current leadership worldwide even that appears unattainable. Beyond 2C is scary. Maintain the status quo and the predictions are 3.2C by 2100.
The authors of a report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say urgent and unprecedented changes by Governments are needed to reach the target, which they say is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures rise between 1.5C and 2C.
Mr Morrison, you are our leader and Prime Minister. What Australians want you to do is acknowledge the climate is changing. Acknowledge that these fires are the worst ever in our history and that these fires have been made worse because of climate change. You will not just talk about reaching The Paris Agreement targets but take action to achieve it. You will invest in renewable energy and put roof top solar on every roof in Australia. You will increase solar panel rebates not reduce them like you are doing now. You will promise to put an end to all future coal mines and keep the stuff in the ground where it belongs. You will introduce subsidies for electric cars. You will invest heavily in public transport and bicycle lanes. You will acknowledge younger generations have climate anxiety and understandably so. You will sit down and listen to the vocal former fire chiefs which you should have done long ago. You will invest heavily in firefighting equipment. You will now permanently pay our heroic volunteer firefighters for the work they do. Firefighting can no longer be left to volunteers. Gone are the days when volunteers are called up for a few weeks in January and February each year. We can’t expect volunteers to give up their time from September to March which is now required. Like an army reserve we need a firefighter reserve. They should be semi-professional and paid accordingly. They can be called up from their usual day jobs when needed. As the Prime Minister of this Country you need to promise to all Australian citizens that you will do everything in your power to minimise the effects of climate change and do everything possible to mitigate its effects.
If you came out and said these things and then later on achieved these, which I know you won’t because you are beholden to the fossil fuel companies that funded your election campaign, but if you did, Australians wouldn’t mind if you went on holiday to Hawaii or wined and dined the Australian cricket team at Kirribilli House. We all just want to see action on climate change and we want you to commit to it. If you don’t, expect to feel the wrath of voters at the next election.
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