Darwin Local Group meets with Chief Minister
We are Cara, Alice and Allana - the local group leaders in Darwin, Larrakia country. Urging our Territory and Federal MPs to do more to tackle the climate crisis has become important volunteer work for us, while we wrangle three babies and two preschoolers! Finding a way to get our message across with little people in tow was essential. What better way than a weekly climate protest playgroup – right out the front of our local MP's office – who happens to be Chief Minister Michael Gunner!
Darwin AP4CA Climate Protest Playgroup at Parap, NT. We always get a pic out front of the Ministers Office and tag him in socials afterwards :)
Currently, the Federal and Labour Territory government are pursuing massive new gas developments up here – most notably in the Beetaloo Basin. The scale of the greenhouse gas emissions will result in a 22% increase in Australia’s total national emissions - every year. If new gas in the Beetloo Basin is fracked and produced at this scale it would wipe out all other emission reductions gained around the country and put our Paris targets completely out of reach. Further to this, Traditional Owners in the Beetloo Basin have consistently said no to fracking on their country.
These mind-boggling developments are why we run our weekly climate protest playgroup. Every Friday for 6 months we have set up a playgroup with mats, toys, snacks, and books, along with our protest signs in a shady spot opposite the Chief Ministers’ office. The babies have fun while we strategise or work on submissions – sometimes it doesn’t feel like we get much done with the babies there, but we are highly visible and consistent. The community response has been overwhelmingly positive and every week people stop to discuss their climate concerns. Because of this strong public response, we have door knocked the Chief Ministers' electorate to undertake a community climate perceptions survey -- we took these responses into our meeting with him. We’ve also been able to get media coverage on the ABC about our views on the gas developments: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-23/beetaloo-gas-field-offset-open-letter/100478968
We have now met with Chief Minister Michael Gunner himself and the Territory’s Minister for the Environment, Renewables, and Energy Eva Lawler. We were a bit nervous going into these meetings but ultimately found it easy to sit down with these key decision-makers and speak passionately and from heart about our concerns for our children's future (by the time our babies are 30 and considering families of their own, it's predicted the Territory will have three months of the year over 35 degrees). We've also been able to secure a public consultation meeting with the Office of Climate Change about the Draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions Offsets policy - happening next week. With much thanks to Heidi, we also delivered an AP4CA Solar Our Schools proposal that was enthusiastically received by both Ministers and ended the meetings in a really positive way.
Alice Nagy, Allana Brown, Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner, Cara Brown.
If you are considering a protest playgroup we've learned that:
- Your local MP must meet with you if you live in the electorate - just email the office and ask for a constituent's meeting. It might take a while but persist and it will happen. If you happen to live in an electorate with a key decision-maker, like a Premier or Chief Minister, then absolutely you have to do it!!! Imagine how powerful it would be to get a Solar our Schools proposal into the hands of every Premier and Chief Minister!
- Asking for public consultation on a piece of climate policy you disagree with is a powerful way to engage. Not only does it send a strong message that people really care; you might actually improve the policy
- Be consistent and highly visible with lots of colorful artwork and signs. We've had local Councillors, news media, Territory MPs, and heaps of locals take notice
- Know that the majority of Australian's want stronger action on climate - you will be congratulated, so don't be too worried about putting yourself out there
With many best wishes from the Top End,
Cara, Alice and Allana
Update: April 2022
Local mums and AP4CA Darwin local group leaders Cara, Allana, and Alice persistently held protest play-ins out the front of Chief Minister Gunner's office for 6 months before securing a meeting with him and his advisors.
Coupled with an unprecedented 54 submissions drafted in response to the Northern Territories Draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions Offsets Policy, and by leading a doorknocking action in the Chief Minister’s electorate, these dynamic mums then secured a community consultation meeting with the relevant department on the policy, where they and others expressed their concerns.
They managed to have indirect offsets (whereby companies could pay for research into offsetting technologies, rather than actually offsetting) removed from the NT's Draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions Offsets Policy!
The power of parents, working hard to protect their adorable babies from climate change.
Celebrating a great meeting afterward!