GEORGE BROWNING. Morrison Government you are a disgrace

NSW is alight, and it is still not the right time to talk about Climate Change!!!!! What message of commitment did we have to give the world community in Madrid? – nothing. You said Australia is reducing its emission year on year.  Your own department’s graphics shows this to be untrue. Asserting untruth does not make it true. How is it possible to believe anything you say?  

This morning Margaret and I followed RFS advice and evacuated our home at Long Beach in the face of a large fire which will not be extinguished unless it rains. I am finding this emotionally such a challenge. Shouldn’t we stay and fight? At least should we not have stayed alongside neighbours?  Most have left but some have stayed. For days we have watched the water bombers fill from the Bay, the air is constantly full of smoke and as I type all the fire sirens are going. 

Let me tell you some stories.

One  (widow) is staying because her husband built her the house and she wants to defend it.

Another neighbour, an Italian migrant, is choosing to remain.  He left Italy because of the disgraceful leadership of Berlusconi.  He is surrounded by trees under which nestles his beloved aviary. He will not leave his birds.  He has contempt for Berlusconi but his contempt for Morrison is palpable. How is it possible, he asks,  that Australia could elect as leader one who must surely know the scientific reality of climate change as well as absorb observable data, but still chooses to pacify his self-serving denialist supporters.

Margaret coordinates volunteers at the recovery station. (Our evacuation was in part to enable her to do this). When I arrived yesterday afternoon, I was almost knocked over by a woman leaving in tears and deep distress. She had apparently offered assistance to a woman who believed her home to be lost, but was unprepared for health and safety rules required of her in doing so. So often rules stop us from more flexibly meeting the needs of people in distress. I was so proud of Margaret for standing up for the woman. I can hardly blame Morrison for this, but what kind of country have we become that bureaucracy wins over compassion. I can blame Morrison for this principle in relation to medivac.

Yes, we are a country of droughts bushfires and flooding rains, but what is happening to us must almost shock scientists who may now feel their predictions are proving to have been on the conservative side.

Over  recent years I have been sending messages of support to friends in various parts of Australia when faced with unprecedented climatic conditions.  In 2003 we lived in Canberra and I became joint chair of the recovery appeal following the devastating fires. Observing the plight of others, you think you know what it might feel like, but until you are forced out of your own home, you do not really know.  What must it be like for the hundreds of thousands world-wide for whom this is a reality, either because of natural disaster, or because of inhumanity?

As a Christian should I be more charitable to Morrison and his government, – less angry.  No I do not think so.

Jesus was angry when he entered the temple and was confronted with the money changers, for they were misleading  and diminishing the people. Our government is a motely group of money changers. They appear more interested in supporting financial enterprise, no matter its morality, business dealings no matter their environmental impact, trade no matter human rights violations, or budget  considerations regardless of social outcomes: that is why it is a disgrace. To add insult to injury the department of environment has now been absorbed into the department of agriculture. If this is too harsh, Morrison, or one of your ministers, give me evidence worthy of an apology from me.

Government continues to insist its major responsibility is  to keep Australians safe. Hey, wake up – climate change is our greatest existential threat.   It is a far greater threat than terrorism. It is a social threat, it is a grave economic threat and yes, it is an environmental threat.  How about you deviate a fraction of the cost of one of your never never submarines to fight a real threat?

We are appropriately lambasted at international forums for our apparent indifference.  Morrison you are a disgrace for claiming we are doing much – in the context of our ability and size we’re not, and because we are perceived not to be, we have absolutely no influence in encouraging others to be more responsible.

If the evidence were not in. If we were too poor and therefore could not choose. If action meant putting  thousands of Australian jobs at risk. If the task were beyond us for any reason. ——– Then I would understand.

But none are true.  

We are in a better position to act than almost any other country in the world

Our not acting, and the world not acting will impact our continent more than any other

The long-term effect of not acting is economic idiocy.

All of this is a disgrace and an indignity inflicted upon all Australians

If my house burns Mr Morrison, you most certainly will be on the end of another blog, Nero developed an unenviable reputation for fiddling while Rome burnt. ‘Fiddling while Rome burns’ does not mean being literally responsible for today’s fires, it is an idiom for referring to a person(s) in power who is prepared to do anything other than what is important. 

Bishop George Browning PhD DLitt

Bishop Browning is a retired bishop of Canberra, Initial convener of the Anglican Communion Environment Network and now convener of his local Landcare

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George Browning is president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) and a retired Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn.

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