As challenging as well as deeply unfairly felt as lockdowns have been, COVID-19’s capacity to expose democracy’s diseases has been exceptional.
At least it seems that a lot more people are seriously considering what the point is of:
• leaders who wilfully ignore experts to justify putting short-term personal gains for a few above the health and wellbeing of all else;
• a health system that largely ignores the interdependencies between human and ecological health and allows private interests to profit from systemic illness;
• news and information services (regardless of platform) that are permitted to profit from peddling propaganda;
• complex regulations (so-called) that consistently fail to protect consumers from abuse;
• an economy that largely underpays/undervalues its most ‘essential workers’ and puts profits before needs;
• law makers who demonstrate scant respect for the law and/or do not practice the values and standards they preach; and
• a democracy that allows staggering levels of inequality and injustice (racial, gender, sexual orientation and so on)?
Have we forgotten anything?
As you may recall, a few weeks prior to the announcement of Australia’s 2019 Federal election campaign, Climate Guardians launched their #BreakMurdochMonopoly campaign at Melbourne’s Herald & Weekly Times HQ. And prior to lockdown more than a dozen ‘visitations’ from angels with messages had been ‘performed’ at the site since. On only one occasion were angels met with hostile police, and to be fair only the officer who happened to be in charge. With generous pro bono assistance from Stary Norton Halphen, those two angels are appearing in court this week to challenge the ensuing charges of trespass and besetting of premises.
During Melbourne’s lockdown, we focussed on submissions, including a major complaint to the ACCC arguing that consumers of news and information services should be entitled to the same protections against false and misleading claims as are other consumers. Thanks to a wee twist of fate, our complaint’s submission was delayed by one day (10th October), thus enabling us to discover and reference former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s noble #MurdochRoyalCommission as ecstatic enthusiasm for it was crashing Australian federal government’s website. Naturally, we applaud Rudd and former Coalition PM Malcolm Turnbull for taking a united, bi-partisan stand to call out News Corp’s appalling media power abuse, as well as Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young’s subsequent Inquiry into Media Diversity.
In preparing our ACCC media power abuse submission, we’ve certainly learned how effectively Australia’s defamation laws can protect powerful interests. We appreciate the wonderful pro bono support we’ve received from legal experts at Russell Kennedy Lawyers in guiding us through these defamation laws, and appreciate the awesome people at Justice Connect for sourcing this pro bono support.
Further to this, in response to her effluent submission to the Victorian government’s Inquiry into AGL’s Crib Point gas import jetty and pipeline project, our Carbon Doyen Ms Coral Bleach has been called as a witness and will be giving evidence on Monday 7 December between 12.45pm and 1pm. Seriously!
Meanwhile, in the hopes of discovering opportunities to take legal challenges, ClimActs has become an incorporated association. Expressed another way, after seven years of joyful (and yes occasionally highly stressful!) climate and social justice advocacy, we’re official!
So, it really seemed fitting that our first post-incorporating ‘visitation’ was to sing songs of gratitude for Victoria’s essential workers, and for our decision makers’ courage and steadfast determination to be guided by best available independent science, data, facts and evidence re COVID19. This is precisely the decision making we need in relation to, well, everything. As this global pandemic has shown, no responsible government should ever allow private profits to compromise the safety and wellbeing of its people and the ecosystems all life depends on.
This week it’s also a great privilege to participate in some excellent public discussions including Responding to the Ecological Emergency (Wednesday 18/11, 1pm – 2.30pm) with Systems Change and the Arts, and Understanding Ecological Threats, Resilience and Peace (Thursday 19/11, 5.30pm – 7pm) with the United Nations Association of Australia Victorian Young Professionals in partnership with Institute of Economics and Peace. We hope you will join us too!
Thanks for engaging and please contact us with any tips or queries about our efforts towards a cleaner and fairer world.