To Scott Morrison, like everyone else in Australia, and increasingly around the world, I have spent the past couple of months in horrified disbelief at the scale of the bushfire emergency. The loss of life, devastation of ecosystems, decimation of wildlife and destruction of property are genuinely beyond comprehension – we simply have nothing to compare these events to, and consequently it is almost impossible to process. I am deeply saddened and increasingly frightened about the future. And beyond donating to fundraising efforts, I feel helpless in my capacity to meaningfully contribute in the face of this ongoing tragedy. But as a citizen of this country, I can write to you and your Coalition colleagues and share my views.
Prime Minister, you will be remembered as the leader of the government who presided over Australia’s worst ever natural disaster.
You will be remembered as the politician who refused to meet with a respected group of emergency service workers who both forewarned this disaster and offered practical steps to mitigate its impact.
You will be remembered as the prime minister who went on an ill-timed holiday to Hawaii as the crisis escalated, and whose office would not reveal details of your whereabouts.
You will be remembered by your clumsy efforts at supporting victims of the fire in Cobargo. People will remember the self-serving video advertisement promoting your response to the fires.
And you will be remembered by the seemingly delayed deployment of our military and your failure to consult or communicate adequately with the NSW RFS commissioner.
But mostly Prime Minister, Australians and the world will remember you as the leader who failed to lead on climate change.
We have crossed the line and a new normal has been defined. The impact of global heating is no longer a doomsday scenario, it is currently happening in the forests of south-east Australia. This is the start of a terrifying new reality.
And yet, unconscionably, you are unwilling to make any change to Australia’s climate policy.
You and your government continue to obfuscate on our carbon emission targets with accounting trickery, and worse, are reported to have obstructed the development of a global deal on emissions reduction at the recent Madrid talks.
You watch Craig Kelly, an MP in own your party, deny that climate change even exists, and fail to appropriately discipline your colleagues who disseminate such egregious nonsense.
And, as one of the highest per-capita emitters of carbon in the world, you continue to promulgate the view that Australia is acting responsibly by ‘doing our bit’.
Prime Minister, history will record your personal and governmental response to the 2019-20 bushfire crisis as flawed.
But you still have an opportunity to do the right thing by your fellow Australians and the global community and show true leadership in response to the fires.
Act decisively on climate change. Cut ties with the fossil fuel industry. Listen to the pleas of our children. Stop Adani and decommission coal fired power plants. Put a price on carbon. Penalise polluters and reward those who reduce emissions. Preferentially invest in renewables. Set ambitious targets for emissions reduction and spruik the benefits of moving to a clean economy.
Prime Minister, at this watershed moment in our history, I urge you.
Dr Simon Morgan MBBS FRACGP DipRACOG MPH&TM is a GP from Newcastle, NSW and also works as a medical educator with GP Synergy. He is a proud member of Doctors for the Environment Australia.
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