Extinction Rebellion

Vote like it’s an emergency

Vote like it’s an emergency

By Extinction Rebellion Australia, on 14 May 2022


How are we meant to vote in a time of State Capture and Climate Emergency? A nightmarish koala and red rebels in mourning in Sydney remind us of what’s at stake.

Red Rebels from Extinction Rebellion Sydney and Extinction Rebellion Bondi Beach used silent theatre to express our collective empathy, grief, love and care while Blinky the fire-affected koala wailed in distress.

No matter who forms government, nonviolent civil disobedience remains a proportionate response to the climate crisis especially in a captured state. XR will continue to rebel until governments tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency, act accordingly, and install a binding Citizen’s Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

VOTE 1: Those that do NOT take money from the fossil fuel industry

VOTE LAST: Climate criminals

Images: Belle Dipalo and John Janson-Moore

Uncle Ken Canning provided an acknowledgement of country.

Varsha (School Strike for Climate organiser, SE Asia Climate advocate and first-time voter in a federal election) spoke to the assembled protesters.

“I am filled with worry and anxiety that Climate Change and Climate Justice isn’t being taken seriously” she said.

Varsha at the 'Vote like it’s an emergency' protest

“We need First Nations people, people of colour, those on the front line of climate change to be platformed, to be centred. And that isn’t happening.

“We need our so-called decision makers to go beyond these bogus policies and actually enact climate justice.

“Right now India is in the middle of insane heat waves. It’s has been going on for weeks. This is along with countries like Pakistan.

“And instead of Australia taking responsibility for being one of the world’s biggest exporter of fossil fuels, of coal, we just don’t seem to care at all. Instead we just keep blaming these countries, and saying it’s up to countries like India and China who don’t have anything like the resources Australia does.“

“We need to stand up and take responsibility and realise that that’s what the future looks like if we don’t take action.

Rebel in koala costume

Scott Ludlam (former senator, writer, Extinction Rebel, and bushfire evacuee) pointed out that “the first rebels against extinction and dispossession are First Nations people, who have been holding this oldest of front lines for 234 years”. He said that the best we can do is to learn from that leadership.

Scott spoke of the coming election as offering a false choice. He said:

“No matter who the Prime Minister is eight days from now, we are still going to be fighting Scarborough, and at Narrabri and in the Beetaloo and at Adani.

“I used to think of this as corruption. That we can flip governments back and forwards as often as we like and somehow that coal industries and the gas industries are always going to hold the numbers.

“I’ve come the realise it’s not corruption at all. It’s something much more insidious and dangerous than that. And we should name it. It’s called State Capture.

“It’s when these investor groups control a critical mass of our political infrastructure so that we can flip the government back and forward and yet they are still burning us into a climate apocalypse. That has to stop now.

“So when the banner says ‘Vote Like it’s an emergency’, how are we meant to vote, in a time of emergency, in a time of State Capture?

“What we need to do in seven days time, is buy ourselves some time. Buy our rebellion some time.

“We have friends in that building. We have allies in Parliament, State, Federal and Local. But we don’t have enough.

“What we’re going to need to do, is using our magical preferential voting system, is put people fighting against State Capture at the top.

“Put the Independents, put the Greens, people who have been doing this work for years and years at the top of the ballot paper. And then, as long as your Labor candidate sponsored by Santos is higher than on your ballot paper than the Liberal National candidate sponsored by Santos, we can change the government. And I think we need to change the government urgently.

“It should be impossible for a Climate Change Denier to ever spend another hour in the Prime Minister’s Office.

“And then on 22 May, with a big, colourful, angry cross cross bench in Parliament – we rebel.

“We rebel in Parliament, in the Board room, in their shiny corporate foyers, and we rebel on the streets!”

A Red Rebel with Blinky

Dora Babek (from the Bob Brown Foundation and a member of XR Bondi) spoke about her vision of a future 2030 where koalas were brought back from the brink of extinction, where governments have taken steps to protect native forests. Where Australian could speak with pride of a government they had elected

She said ”What future will you choose for this election? Your responsibility will not stop with voting.”

“Whatever colour of government is elected, communities need to show the way and fight for how they see the future. Let’s all come together and make this reality”.

Larissa Payne (XR Rebel, an organiser of the Occupy Sydney movement, writer and co-teacher) referenced Arandati Roy, Indian activist and writer whose words and ideas, said Larissa, are as hopeful as they are achievable.

Larissa said:

“Arandati reminds us to never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of life around us. Our strategy should not be only to confront empire, but the toxic system responsible for climate injustice but to lay siege to it, to deprive it of oxygen, to mock it. And this speaks to XR – to mock it with our Art, our Music, our Literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our humour - our sheer relentlessness. With rebellion, and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we‘re brainwashed to believe – like BP’s bullshit deflection about individual carbon footprints, or that elections alone will save us.

“Telling our own stories means we tell the truth. In truth there is, and I quote anti-nuclear campaigner Felicity Ruby, ‘horror, humour and hope’.

“I hope the voters who care about a liveable planet will vote 1 for those who do not take money from the fossil fuel industry, and put the climate criminals and Nazis last.

“And as long as Extinction Rebellion’s demands are aimed at government – while we don’t organise around elections or have any delusions that voting alone will save us – it’s in our strategic interest to get folks elected who aren’t part and parcel of the fossil fuel mafia.

Red Rebels and Blinky the fire-affected koala

“What we need to win… is community, mutualism, solidarity across intersections to fight both the hyper local level and globally. We need systems change – what we need to win is REBELLION.

“The climate crisis is a global crisis. We cannot win alone. We need an international rebellion against extinction. With the window for reducing emissions to prevent the worst of climate collapse rapidly closing, we sure as shit cannot rely on elections alone, certainly not in a captured state. Certainly not with governments full of self-centred careerists with post-politics jobs lined up in the mining or the arms industries.

“We need to grow our movement, and I don’t just mean Extinction Rebellion. There is power in extending the table and finding commonality in the intersecting struggles of other movements.

“This something environmentalism in the global north has failed to do over the decades.

“We need meaningful solidarity with marginalised and oppressed people everywhere to challenge this toxic system that created and upholds the climate crisis. That means, showing up. There’s a reciprocity in solidarity.

“This means all hands on deck. That is, everyone to do what they can within their sphere to influence, whether on the cross-bench on Ngunnawal country or disrupting business as usual on Gadigal country.

“We are running out of time”.

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