This is part of a speech I saw which was given on November 7th in parliament. It is worth reading:
“I’m really proud to stand in this House today for what is a historic moment. But it is important, I think, when we stand in these moments in time, to remember the reason why we are here, today, debating this issue in the first place. We are here because our world is warming; undeniably, it is warming. And I am proud, at least, that 10 years on from when I first sat right over there, we’re no longer having the debate over whether or not that is the case. We are merely debating what it is we do about it, because, undeniably, our sea levels are rising. Undeniably, we are experiencing extreme weather events, increasingly so. Undeniably, the science tells us the impact that there will be on flora and fauna and, yes, also the spread of diseases in areas where we previously haven’t seen them. We know, as well, that some island nations will have their clean water sources impacted by rising sea levels and saltwater entering into them. On a daily basis they are already seeing those impacts. Our world is warming, and so, therefore, the question for all of us is: what side of history will we choose to sit on, in this moment in time?
I absolutely believe and continue to stand by the statement that climate change is the biggest challenge of our time, and for us here … that means that for this generation, this is our nuclear moment. And so today, if we are to truly reflect that that is what this means for us, we have to start moving beyond targets, we have to start moving beyond aspiration, we have to start moving beyond statements of hope, and deliver signs of action. That is what this Government is doing, and proudly so.
We have committed ourselves to a 1.5 degrees Celsius target that we are embedding in legislation, not just because of the statements of the Paris Agreement but because that is what is required if we are to show our Pacific neighbours that we understand what the impacts above 1.5 degrees Celsius will have on them—it is real. Today, we embed in legislation a Climate Commission who will play a role in helping us to establish carbon budgets, who will help us establish the targets that we need across the spectrum, that will provide for us advice, particularly on how we deal with issues like methane.”1
Unfortunately for Australia, this is part of a speech given by the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on the occasion of the third reading of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill. This Bill aims to keep their greenhouse gas emissions at a level commensurate with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees Celsius ‘aspirational’ target1.
Several people have asked me online and elsewhere: ‘Why is Australia the shit version of New Zealand?’ or something similar. It is because we have a Coalition government in which at least a significant minority are religious nutters, and which is so dependent on donations from the fossil fuel industry (coal and petroleum), that nothing else matters to them. Scott Morrison sending “thoughts and prayers” is just another vacuous excuse for doing nothing. It is the same response that those in the United States get from the National Rifle Association (NRA) after every murderous gun atrocity. The other standard NRA response is ‘it’s too soon to discuss this now’. On Saturday, when queried about the link of these horrendous fires to climate change, Morrison, as he does with almost all questions, did not answer. All he said was: “My only thoughts today are with those who have lost their lives and their families. The firefighters who are fighting the fires, the response effort that has to be delivered and how the Commonwealth has to responded in supporting those efforts.”3 He was clearly rattled by the question, in indicating that families have been lost which, as far as I know, is not the case. The standard NRA response was left to New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian who, at another press conference, when asked if the fire emergency was linked to climate change, replied ‘honestly, not today’4. While she was doing this, Morrison was grinning like a gormless halfwit behind her. However, perhaps the most ridiculous response to a question on climate change was from the Deputy Prime Minister, who said “What people need is a little bit of sympathy, understanding and real assistance; they need help; they need shelter. They don’t need the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time when they’re trying to save their homes”5. These are the sort of moronic responses we have from members of the Coalition government, as a ham-fisted way of trying to deflect attention away from their climate change denial. However, reality is impinging on this denial, as reality always does. This denial of their denial was skewered by the Glenn Innes Severn Council Mayor, Carol Sparks, whose home was damaged in one of the fires that also killed two people, referred to Morrison’s response as ‘unbelievable’ and that it is not ‘a political thing – it’s a scientific fact’3.
As if to demonstrate the head-in-the-sand approach to climate change adopted by the Berejiklian government in particular, and the Coalition in general, in this year’s New South Wales (NSW) state budget, the capital allocation to NSW Fire and Rescue was cut by 35.4% ($12.9 million), such that now the state has “fewer firefighters … than [it] did eight years ago”6,7. While some may say the professional fire service is about urban firefighting and this budget cut would not impact the response to bushfires, the case of the catastrophic fires that hit Canberra in 2003, where 500 homes were destroyed and 4 people killed, shows that the demarcation is meaningless. However, in addition to decreasing funding for the professional fire services, in that same budget, the NSW Rural Fire Service, a service run by volunteers, was cut to the tune of $26.7 million7. This is denialism in action, and it is dereliction of a politician’s duty in the face of what may be a catastrophic fire season. It is quite possible that people will die because of such decisions; maybe people who are unable to get help when the fires bear down on them, or maybe firefighters whose equipment is not up to par. Those millions cut from the RFS could have bought numerous new pumper trucks, four-wheel drive fire trucks, flame-resistant coveralls, fire-protective helmets, etc7.
To make this even worse, 23 former senior emergency service officers attempted to obtain an audience with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the minister in charge of dealing with natural disasters, to warn them about climate change and its impact on future capacity (or lack of it) to fight fires in this new era. These were unsuccessful (they received no reply), and they were fobbed off to Minister Angus Taylor who was “not the right minister to speak to”8. As one of these 23, former NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner, Greg Mullins, said: “We are deeply concerned about the lack of climate action at a national level and felt obligated to speak out … In the last year we’ve seen unseasonal fires in Tasmania, Victoria, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia, floods and twin cyclones in parts of northern Australia, longer bushfire danger periods and fires burning in rainforests … What does it take to wake these people up in Canberra? I don’t know.”9 Morrison said his government has a plan to address climate change, citing funding increases for emergency services and fire authorities across the country9. Both of these assertions by Morrison are lies.
These idiotic people have actually been elected to run our governments, yet they seemingly take no heed of experts, cannot plan ahead, and the only Australians they value are those who make donations to their parties. This is where we have come to in this nation, where the denial of reality is policy, and the demise of democracy is following close behind as the result of policies by those same parties10,11. When compared to the lucidity of Jacinda Ardern, the bumptious stupidity of our current crop of government politicians leads to anger and envy. Anger at our various governments’ stupidity and criminality, and envy that New Zealand has a prime minister of substance, and intelligence.