Australia has been left scarred by heat and flames and choked by smoke. Australians are understandably pissed the crisis has reached this point while the government peddles in climate denial. Many are so pissed, in fact, that they set up camp outside Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s home Thursday. The plan is to stay there until he’s back from wherever the hell he is. Morrison has been on holiday since Monday, but his administration isn’t sharing details on where he is though rumor has it he was in Hawaii.
Everyone’s entitled to some downtime, but a leader should not abandon his people during a climate emergency when major cities are drowning in toxic air and volunteer firefighters are dying attempting to battle the massive bushfires that have been raging for months. But that’s what Morrison, Australia’s conservative leader who once lovingly brought a lump of coal to the parliament, has done. And now plenty of people will be waiting to greet him at Kirribilli House when he returns.
The protestors include teens, doctors, and politicians. Some wore koala hats; others wore face masks. Both are symbols of the emergency the country faces. These accessories haven’t made the police any friendlier, though. No matter the country, you can always count on the police to treat protestors like shit—and that doesn’t exclude children, unfortunately.
Reporter and journalism student River McCrossen captured the moment a police officer told a young girl that she and her father needed to evacuate the premises or “force may be used.” She was fighting tears and looked distraught during the interaction. Even as she walked away, the child held up her sign in defiance, which read “Look at what you’ve left us, watch us fight it, watch us win.”
She wasn’t arrested, but New South Wales Member of Parliament David Shoebridge was along with nine others (including a child), per the Australian Associated Press. What’s pissing off a lot of people is not only the prime minister’s absence during this immediate crisis; it’s also his lack of action on the crisis at large that is climate change.
In order to prevent these awful heat waves and bush fires from becoming more common, the world needs to dramatically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Australia, however, is set to increase its coal exports at a time when they need to end. Even though the country is seeing more solar panel installations, half of its energy generation comes from coal.
Meanwhile, the country continues to cook under a record-setting heat wave and bushfires may rage for months longer. And Aboriginal leaders in central Australia are worried the region could be becoming too hot for humans to survive.
None of this is acceptable, and the people won’t stand for it any longer. And Morrison can expect to hear from them when he gets back from wherever the hell he snuck off to.