As the ever closing climate change frontier looms upon Australian Shores, with signs already evident in most parts of the country, the question remains- when will our politicians act? After the failure and promises of Governments of the past, impending reforms that never come and budgets that get built and then pulled out under the feet of hopeful scientists and activists, many cling to catastrophic weather events and foreign influence to encourage change. Yet as the drought sets in over most of the country, not even political tours and tourism hopes are enough to bring the rain where we need it the most. Perhaps, those that pray for rain in hope, can be the ones that encourage Government as it is needed.
Farmers. Often deemed as a conservative bunch, with time and action dedicated to and matched in changes of weather, detailing business risk, future planning and finance. Farmer’s views were once kept and held in the formation of the Australian Country Party, a party established at a time when our nation rode upon a sheep’s back and farming was a respectable tradition that was shown with glory in the city towns and country fairs. It was Australia’s beacon of hope for many, a political body supporting an industry synonymous with that of the gold rush and one that ensured rural and regional towns thrived.
Yet despite these passionate roots and the Akubra hat and RM Williams Boot wearing politicians we see today, one does not have to look far to see a once aligned political party now at risk of falling behind the times. Worst still, perhaps, is not only the misalignment of farmer’s views and the National Party, but a now evident friction between the party and mainstream society. Perhaps dramatically depicted by the vote on Gay Marriage, where the once party leader cowardly sat in the top of an empty dock against millions of Australians. However this was soon eclipsed by a prehistoric desire to pass on the family name and rock the party under an even further misalignment and mistreatment of power and office.
While these distractions of political office keep the media cycles in motions, out on the land are farmers who are facing severe drought, with the millennial drought so fresh and recent in their minds. And while the bullish market of wool and cattle prices can only last so long, it won’t be long before the continuation of drought and the lack of Government policy, particularly on climate change, became an unformidable beast, leaving balance sheets and financial statements in ruin and forcing many into cities again for work. So how can we develop a proactive stance?
With drought outside the back door of many farm homesteads, changing rainfall patterns falling on the East Coast and diseases and parasites migrating onto unchartered land, it is undeniable that climate change is threatening farmer livelihoods. With farming organisations now embracing climate change motions, acknowledging our farmers are on the frontlines of climate change and that action needs to be done, when will media hungry politicians stop to acknowledge the real fear and concerns of Aussie farmers? As the tales around the farm table discussing cyclical weather patterns become spared for a fresh outlook, aligning with our communities who demand more, when too will the cries and pleas of those on the ground receive acknowledgement.
Rather than denying the issues before us, being skeptical of rigorous science or running from preconceived consequences, can our politicians relate and provide the stance our farmers are drastically seeking?
All the farms a stage, with all the farmers merely players…
Joshua Gilbert is a Worimi man from Gloucester in NSW and works in the Indigenous, agricultural and sustainability sectors.