In the House of Representatives, Greens member Adam Bandt asked the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, if he would praise the many thousands of school children who are ‘going on strike’ by not going to school this Friday1. Morrison stated that his government took climate change very seriously and reeled off a series of largely ineffectual policies which have allowed Australia’s emissions to rise rapidly ever since the carbon price was repealed2. Morrison then said: “…I tell you what we are also committed to; kids should go to school … we don’t support the idea of kids not going to school to participate in things which can be dealt with outside of school … we do not support our schools being turned into parliaments.” He added: “We think kids should be in school learning … what we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools.”1 I too would prefer it if schools didn’t feel the need to turn into parliaments, and they probably wouldn’t, if our current parliament hadn’t been turned into a schoolyard.
It is difficult to understand what is happening in a political party which is continuing along its coal-fired path, despite its recent hammering in the Wentworth by-election3 and the Victorian state election4 which were in part caused by this chosen path. The fact that Morrison could be spooked by children planning a strike5 says much about his limited purview and perhaps his limited intellect. In addition, the fact that children are so desperate that they are willing to take such action speaks volumes about where we are, with governments doing nothing to help preserve a planet that these children will inherit. In other countries, such as Pakistan, Colombia and the Netherlands, legal argument like that in a pending case in the US Supreme Court, has argued that governments have a constitutional duty to protect citizens from such a global threat. In the Netherlands, the courts have ordered the Dutch government to cut emissions by 25% from 1990 levels by 20205.
Governments need to realise that this planet will eventually belong to children, we are just minding it for them, and we owe it to them to hand over a planet that is habitable. Not doing so would be the greatest crime against humanity one could imagine.