Yesterday members of a number of Gippsland Climate Action groups staged a rally and ‘die-in’ at Sale. It was decided to hold the rally in Sale as many activists who originally were intending to attend the rally in Canberra at the opening of Parliament were unable to do so because of bushfire road closures. Of course our local member was in Canberra but it was decided to hold the rally anyway. A mini-bus proceeded from Bairnsdale to Sale for the event.
About 60 protesters gathered at the Clock tower in the mall where the die-in took place and parts of the Greta Thunberg ‘Our House is on Fire’ speech were read to the participants. They then marched to Darren Chester’s office. There were lots of XR flags and placards and a number of speeches were given. The media presence was noted including Win TV. The die-in was a lengthy 5 minutes!
A ceremony (and silent vigil) was carried out with those present depositing burnt embers from the bushfires in a tray on the steps to Darren Chester’s office. Bairnsdale activist and event MC Angela Crunden stated: “We are here together to stand in silence and in sorrow as we honour the lives lost, our ﬁremen, our friends and family, our houses, our infrastructure, schools, to honour our wildlife and their habitat. We honour all the losses as symbolised by this burnt material washed up on a beach in Lakes Entrance. And we are here to remind our federal National Party representative Darren Chester that if only governments had acted all those decades ago when science ﬁrst predicted our worsening future, these terrible losses may well have been avoided.” The embers and a handwritten copy of a verse from a poem by Christie Ann Martin were then presented to his office.
As the rally publicity stated “Australia needs to be able to make an immediate, positive and nationally supported response to the risks, challenges and opportunities of climate change. We will no longer watch on as Scott Morrison leads a Parliament that fails to act on Climate Change. We’ve watched the destruction of our homes, wildlife and lost friends – just an example of the consequences of negligence and inaction. And there is no end in sight, as our politicians ignore experts, ignore citizens and ignore the rest of the world. This is an emergency – a climate and ecological emergency.”
Participants came from across Gippsland including Sale, Briagolong, Maffra, Morwell, Clifton Creek, Metung, Nicholson and Bairnsdale. The bushfires across our region – and in every state in Australia – are without doubt unprecedented. As they have clearly shown “our house is on fire” and the time for greenhouse gas reductions is long overdue.