Pat O'Shane: The Earth is our mother — we must fight for it

February 2, 2022
Renee Lees (left), who is running for the Queensland Senate, and Pat O'Shane (right), who is running for the seat of Leichhardt. Photo: Jahfe

Climate action is the most critical issue in my campaign platform for the seat of Leichhardt in Far North Queensland. My reasons are simple: the Earth is our mother.

Worldwide, First Nations people know from thousands of years of experience, that the Earth nurtures and sustains us. In return we must protect her.

As a young child, I roamed the bush with my cousins, brothers, sister and the kids down the dirt track.

We knew we could eat the fruit of the trees: quondongs, guavas, citrus, berries. We caught yabbies in the creeks, tossing them with a handful of leaves up on to the banks, to throw them into a few flames to cook.

We knew we were safe in our country.

Even our young friends, who were not of our mob, felt in the deepest parts of their being that the Earth would sustain us.

We thought those days would last forever.

Those early experiences taught us that we do not need to become scientists to understand that some human behaviour is killing the only precious thing we need — a functioning planet.

Understanding this means it is imperative to end the rule of those whose greed, egos and lust for destruction are destroying our Mother.

Our youth have been showing the way: they are challenging those they see destroying their futures in the streets and through the courts.

We must join together to overturn the laws which enable them to exploit our natural resources. We can no longer tolerate their amassing, through their ownership of the means of production, obscene levels of wealth.

We can no longer allow them to rip up the earth for minerals and other resources, destroy our iconic forests, and pollute our precious waters and the air we breathe.

Not taking action means, implicitly, taking their side.

We walk past the standards we accept: children as young as 10 years — almost invariably Indigenous children — are incarcerated in jails all over the country, including those where Labor governments are in power. This is inhumane and destructive and flies in the face of Australia signing on to United Nations Convention on the rights of the child.

The same levels of inhumanity are imposed on refugees, who are imprisoned in on– and offshore detention, keeping them without hope, without the ordinariness of living in a community, without access to education and medical care.

All over Australia, Indigenous people live in squalor: overcrowded, inadequate housing for which they pay exorbitant rents – if they can afford to pay rent at all.

By refusing to provide public and social housing at affordable rents, by failing to ensure jobs that pay adequate wages, by cutting funds to health budgets, all governments, especially Liberal-National Party ones, condemn people to live in poverty.

For too many people, this rich country more resembles that of a Third World dictatorship.

We must put people and the planet before profit in the upcoming federal elections.

Contribute to Socialist AllianceVote 1 Pat O’Shane 4 Leichhardt.

[Kuku Yalanji woman from the Daintree Pat O’Shane grew up dirt poor under a system designed to keep Indigenous people down. She rose to be Australia’s first Indigenous lawyer and magistrate, fighting for justice for ordinary people. Her campaign launch is on February 13. Register here to receive the zoom link. You can send your questions in advance of the event to]

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