We don’t need to pray for rain, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested, we need to take serious climate action now, was the blunt message farmers delivered to federal parliament on September 10.
The farmers said the drought gripping NSW and Queensland had to be a wake-up call for politicians to take climate change seriously.
They also raised concerns that the Coalition government is attempting to stymie the development of wind power, which provides income for farmers and rural communities when agricultural income falls.
Charlie Prell, a sheep farmer from Crookwell and deputy chair of Farmers for Climate Action, which organised the action, said: “Our country is locked in drought, yet elected leaders are still fiddling and pretending climate change isn’t happening.”
“We urgently need bi-partisan support for a plan for climate change and agriculture to equip farmers to deal with increased droughts, heat, frosts and flooding.”
Prell reminded those present of the former Malcolm Turnbull government's hypocrisy in endlessly criticising the blackouts in South Australia two years ago, but staying silent on the blackouts caused by coal-fired power stations unable to tolerate 40+ Celsius summer temperatures.
Farmers for Climate Action CEO Verity Morgan-Schmidt said more and more farmers understood the need for urgent climate action. “Rural Australia is on the front lines of climate change: while our politicians have dithered for a decade, we have dealt with the harsh realities of inaction.
“This issue is bigger than party politics and we need politicians of conviction to show leadership … Failing to grapple with the reality of climate change now means our farmers and the entire agricultural sector are at risk of an uncertain future.”
Jo Dodds, who lives near Tathra on the NSW far south coast, spoke about the devastation caused by the March 2017 Tathra fire, which burned down 69 houses, and how erratic climate events are more frequent.
With 80 fires burning on the NSW coast between Queensland and Victoria, the NSW Rural Fire Service has, for the first time, declared the start of the bushfire season for the state’s west and north at the beginning of August, in winter.
Following the rally, a convoy of trucks and utes decked with banners, one of which read “Break the drought on climate action”, drove around parliament with their horns blaring.
Meanwhile, across the road, Greenpeace activists scaled the flagpoles to drop a large banner displaying the iconic image of Morrison holding a lump of coal with the message: “Let go of it!” The banner was later removed by police.