Hundreds of people gathered outside Sydney’s Kirribilli House on Thursday morning, urging the government to take greater action on climate change as Scott Morrison holidays overseas during the bushfire season.
Amongst those camped at the front of the prime minister’s residence were parents, children on school holidays, bushfire survivors and health professionals, holding signs that asked the PM: “Where the bloody hell are you?”
Sydney mother Liora Ballin chose to attend the protest because she’s “incredibly concerned” about her children’s future, and is “outraged” that Morrison is overseas.
“It comes down to the fact I’ve got two young children,” the speech pathologist told HuffPost Australia.
“I’m so incredibly concerned about the impact that climate change is going to have on my children’s lives and really on every child’s life.”
The past 48 hours have seen the hashtag #WhereTheBloodyHellAreYou trending on Twitter after it was rumoured that the PM was holidaying in Hawaii.
“The Prime Minister is overseas with his family,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told Channel Nine’s “Today” show earlier this week.
“He’s having a well deserved break, and obviously it’s been a very busy year. He’ll be back at work shortly, and then he’ll be off to India, leading a delegation to advance Australia’s interests.”
Only one look at activists’ signs on Thursday told you how fired up they are about Morrison’s absence
“It makes me incredibly angry. I am so outraged,” said Ballin.
“In my lifetime, whenever there has been a national disaster of this scale, we have seen our leaders lead. But I am seeing absolutely no leadership as far as this bushfire crisis goes and the climate emergency goes.
“You cannot as a leader of a country go on holiday when your country is fighting a national disaster of this scale. It shows me there is no leadership and we need it.”
Dr Kim Loo also spoke at the rally, saying the health impacts of the recent bushfire smoke are incredibly concerning, and the upcoming heatwave is only going to make it worse.
“Our hospitals have 10 times more emissions during heatwaves,” said the Western Sydney-based GP.
“We’ve had this crisis with the prolonged smoke, we have no idea how this is impacting our community for months or years.
“I have my patients with asthma and lung function disorders who have been worse,” she said.
“My patients with cardiac failure, my patients on home oxygen can’t wear a mask. I have poor patients who actually don’t have houses where smoke can’t penetrate so they can’t escape the smoke.”
On Wednesday the NSW Rural Fire Service confirmed that 768 homes had been destroyed and a further 296 homes damaged this bushfire season.
The Bureau of Meteorology also stated that Tuesday was “Australia’s hottest day on record” at 40.9 degrees celsius, and that the heatwave is expected to continue in coming days.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian declared a “State of Emergency” on Thursday for the next seven days as the heatwave is expected to worsen.
“A State of Emergency is declared in NSW from today giving Commissioner Fitzsimmons additional powers to deal with the bushfires,” read a statement on the premier’s Twitter account.
“Severe weather conditions are forecast for today and will worsen on Saturday. Listen to warnings and be prepared.”