Neil Rankine and the XR Rebellion by Catherine Watson

Neil Rankine shortly before his arrest (image Channel 9)

Neil Rankine doesn’t fit the stereotype of a climate change activist, by Channel Nine’s reckoning. He is too old and too respectable. “Sixty-two years old, a former mayor, long-time councillor and for decades a CFA volunteer,” reporter Brett Mcleod noted. “But Neil felt so strongly about this issue that he was prepared to be arrested and for the first time in his life locked up overnight.”

On October 7, Mr Rankine, a former Bass Coast mayor, was charged with three counts of obstructing an emergency worker during an Extinction Rebellion (XR) sit-in near the Flinders Street Station. Holding up a hand-made sign reading “Tell the truth”, he was the first protestor to be arrested during a week of protest action in the CBD.

After refusing to accept bail conditions not to return to the protest, he spent the night in lock up. Channel 9 was there to greet him when he was ejected from the Melbourne Magistrates Court the next day, having been bailed to appear in the Wonthaggi Magistrates Court on November 8. After almost 24 hours in custody, he looked bedraggled. He’d only just managed to get his boots on and was still holding a plastic bag of his belongings and his belt. Despite his evident tiredness, he stayed on message. After all, commercial TV doesn’t usually show much interest in climate change. “We have to stand up,” he told the reporter. “We have to take a stand. I’ve attempted all sorts of other ways to get things happening.”…

As a scientist and reader, Neil first heard of climate change more than three decades ago. At first he thought the dire predictions were a little far-fetched, but the more he read and learned the more he was convinced. Over the past decade he has read and listened to the evidence with a growing sense of dread. “The IPCC are telling us that if we don’t get to zero net emissions in 10 or 12 years we sail past our agreed Paris target of 1.5 degrees and most corals are dead. Next comes 2 degrees where all corals are dead and we’ve lost hope or technology of safely controlling the situation. Ask any farmer in Queensland and NSW, he says. They know about climate change. We might have a bit more breathing space in South Gippsland but in time this region too will be ravaged by drought and bushfire and flooding, just like the rest of Australia.”

The full article is in Bass Coast Post here.