Speak up, Russell and Darren! by Lauren Burns

Lauren Burns, left, and Lynn Atkinson prepare for Gippsland’s day of climate action

First published in the Bass Coast Post

WHERE are our elected representatives when we need them to speak out for urgent action on climate change, to stem the disastrous impacts on Gippsland? In the light of catastrophic bushfires, damaging sea level rises and drought affecting local farmers, Gippsland federal MPs Russell Broadbent and Darren Chester are noticeably absent from the dialogue on reducing our carbon emissions.

Both MPs have been silent on the climate emergency but vocal in their support for a gas-led economic recovery from the ravages of COVID-19. Gas is a polluting fossil fuel that will counter any chance of Australia meeting the internationally agreed Paris climate target. In response to this inaction by our democratically elected representatives, a community-led, COVID-19 restriction-compliant action is planned across Gippsland on October 3. Groups of up to 10 residents will meet at a key location in Gippsland towns. COVID principles will be observed, with social distancing, face-masks and hand sanitiser.

Each group will take photos, and record a short video to show Darren Chester and Russell Broadbent that we want climate action now. The day of action is and event of Gippsland Extinction Rebellion groups. Participants need to register for the action to support our planning and ensures a COVID-safe event.

One of the organisers, Lynn Atkinson, a grandmother of six school-aged children, says both MPs have supported policies that will destroy the futures of younger generations. “It is important for climate, sustainability and community groups across Gippsland to come together and show their MPs the extent of their concern about the climate crisis and the climate damaging impacts of a gas-led recovery. We need a climate and nature positive COVID-19 recovery program – not tax cuts and subsidies for fossil fuel businesses.”

Lynn says Gippsland has changed greatly since Mr Broadbent was elected in 1990, whereas his vision for the region has not. “Despite rising temperatures, drought and fires, he doesn’t publicly recognise the climate emergency and the need to act now. We can only assume Mr Broadbent and Mr Chester care more for their positions of power and the interests of party donors than ensuring a safe and liveable Gippsland for generations to come.”

A recent report from economic consultancy firm Ernst and Young found that a renewables-led economic recovery is jobs-rich and would create almost three times as many jobs as a fossil-fuel-led recovery. “They are leaving it too late:  this isn’t economic recovery, this is an economic disaster founded in an inability or reluctance to understand the risks of climate change,” she said. “I encourage everyone to get involved in this peaceful, upcoming Gippsland-wide, COVID-compliant action on Saturday 3rd October at 11 am in your own town. She says the day of action is an opportunity for Gippslanders to be heard. “Let’s make it very clear that we know our Federal members are being deliberately silent and we demand action now.”

Lauren Burns is a member of Extinction Rebellion. Participants in the Gippsland day of climate action need to register for the Action to support our planning and ensures a COVID-safe event. See here.