Here we are in the late Anthropocene, with an extinction crisis unfolding before our eyes and a rapidly diminishing window to respond to runaway climate change and we are facing a federal election that seems to be about anything other than the very much endangered elephant in the room.

Psychologists have warned that there’s a very real risk that humans will simply fail to respond to climate change in time because as a species, neurologically we simply don’t respond well to problems that have delayed impacts. Look how hard it was to convince people to stop smoking cigarettes because of the delayed impacts. What an interesting corollary to carbon pollution. The science is clear, has been for ages, but denial, selfishness and addiction hold us back from taking effective action.

Australia is a top per capita carbon polluter, and that isn’t even counting the fossil fuels we mine and export. This federal election feels like a march of the zombies. Distracted by fistfuls of cash in the form of pointless tax cuts we are distracted from the very real threats to our economy, our society and the planet we rely upon.

The two party system in Australia is corrupt. Both parties are dominated by major corporate political donors, and we all know that the captains of industry do not hand out millions of dollars without expecting a return.

Whilst the Labor Party plays the game of being “not as bad’ as the Liberal-National Party (LNP) we are all caught in a collective race to the bottom. The LNP are dangerous corporate nutjobs, Labor are neo-liberal centrists but like a kinder uncle who will do a better job of social policy but who fundamentally doesn’t get the environment. Just today (before I wrote this) federal Labor announced they will direct yet another $1.5 billion to subsidizing the expansion of fracking in Northern Australia. They can’t and won’t articulate a policy on Adani, or on new coal. The climate criminals that fund both major parties are still in control of parliaments before and after this federal election.

Both major parties will keep driving the titanic towards the ice berg, but labor will be fairer about how we rearrange the deck chairs along the way. Sadly the economic and social collapse that will result from stalled climate action will bite far more deeply into the lives of the poor, both domestically and globally.

There’s a certain amount of gloom and despair that is unavoidable in this picture. So what can we do?

My first piece of advice relates to the election. Do not give a first preference vote to either major party. You have no choice at a federal election but to number every square otherwise your vote will be informal, so the major parties know that one or the other of them is going to get your vote in the end.

 Vote first for the environment and the climate. A first preference vote for the Greens sends the message that the major parties are failing on climate change and the environment, that is the only way they will hear you. If you vote 1 Green then 2 Labor (and number every square) that is recorded officially as a Green vote that then flows to Labor as a preference. In terms of changing the government it is every bit as effective in kicking out the Liberals as it would have been if you had just voted Labor, but you have been able record it as a Green vote along the way. When your preference flows to Labor it is still worth exactly one whole vote, never more, never less, but it stops flowing once it reaches one of the two largest parties.

Don’t be deceived by labor supporters who try to tell you that a Labor first preference is the strongest way to kick out the Liberals, this is plainly untrue, your second or third preference is worth exactly as much, the only rule of thumb is to keep your preferred major party ahead of your least preferred major party.

It is depressing that we live in a corrupted two party system, but it is what we have to work with and understanding the power of our preferences is important.

Next, when you wake up after election day, it’s time to get active. We are facing a climate emergency,  and civil disobedience will be required to force governments to act.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an emerging global social movement for survival that has done its homework on the science of climate change, the emergency we face, and the power of civil disobedience to bring about rapid change. We saw this work at Bentley but now it needs to go global and national. XR are non-hierarchical, deeply committed to non-violence, and they also provide great resources for processing the grief and moving to courageous action. You can establish new chapters of any size in local communities and in case you haven’t noticed they have been making a very big splash in the UK and Europe. 

Our politicians will not fix this for us, we need to force the issue.  There are so many worthy groups that need your support, Lock the Gate; North East Forest Alliance, and many more, but XR is well worth a look, go to and maybe you want to join the rebellion for our survival.  

EX declaration and demands

This article was first published in the May edition of the Nimbin Good Times.


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