Bass Coast Climate Action Network meets the Nationals at Wonthaggi

image Jessica Harrison

BCCAN media release

On a sunny autumn Saturday of May 22, forty to fifty locals rallied outside the National Party’s State Conference at the Workmen’s Club in Wonthaggi. A surprise to some, the Nationals were happy to debate with us about their priorities, while Bass Coast CAN members argued for an urgent transition to renewable power generation.

“We talked how hard it is to follow the science, as we do with Covid, when politics gets in the way” said Neil Rankine, who attended the protest. “We also discussed climate change as a challenge but also an opportunity for farming communities.”

Peter Walsh addressed the crowd, and Damian Drum MP talked at length to a group outside. Neil added “Walsh had nothing of substance to say, basically admitting that they will stay in the background other than supposedly supporting farmers. A member I don’t know said we should wait to hear what came out of the meeting as it was being discussed inside. This was a policy setting opportunity but I haven’t heard that there were motions passed that will move toward a future we can be proud of…” 


“Damien Drum did spend considerable time with us outside (I wonder whether, being federal, that was more agreeable than being inside). He talked about the toxic nature of politics around the issue and we all agreed it would be best if the science was communicated and relied upon, like is largely the case with COVID. I pointed out that it is his role, and that of the other politicians attending, to find a way through the quagmire to follow the science for all our benefit.”

Dan Caffrey noted “Both Peter Walsh and Steph Ryan (Deputy Nationals leader in Vic) and Damien Drum, claimed that the Nats were taking climate change seriously, but when asked if this was reflected in their policies, they struggled to point to any apart from carbon sequestration in soils, where farmers would be paid for increasing carbon in the soils. Damian had not heard of Soilkee, the only such process that has been able to claim carbon credits for this. So basically it was all hot air. I do respect the fact they did come out to talk to us…”

A Bass Coast CAN member, Jessica Harrison, said “Debating is fine, but when are the Nationals going to realize that the rural people they represent are already bearing the brunt of climate change? Fires, droughts and extreme weather events are more frequent and they are making life on the land hard. Scientific experts are calling for immediate action to reduce our emissions before the CO2 levels rise any more”.

Dan Caffrey concluded that, “by speaking with us, that they got understand that we were educated about climate change and that they were somewhat deficient when it came to scientific facts” and “I think this was a worthwhile exercise. The more that we confront them with facts, the more they realise that that can’t run from us any more…One thing is certain, nothing substantial to fight climate change and stop emissions from rising will happen while the LibNats stay in government in Canberra.”