Residents from the flood-stricken Northern Rivers community of New South Wales have dumped debris and belongings from their flooded homes at the gates of Kirribilli House.
Nine Lismore locals arrived to protest at the historic residence – traditionally used as a secondary residence by the Prime Minister - on Monday morning. Their issue: the government’s slow reaction to the disaster, as well as its lack of sturdy climate policy.
Kate Stroud, who lost her home in the floods and was one of the protestors present, told The Sydney Morning Herald the protest was organised after residents could not have a conversation with the prime minister “face-to-face in Lismore.”
“Everybody that I know has lost their homes, they’ve lost their businesses,” she said.
“We tried to have this conversation with him face-to-face in Lismore, but he slipped through the back door of our council chambers.”
“If our leaders can’t come to at least sit at the table with us and chat to us at times of devastation, what are they doing?”
The greater north-east coast of NSW and Queensland was ravaged by record-setting flooding almost a month ago, and since then has had to beg for flood relief funding from the government, witness troops arrive without any apparent plan to help, be skipped over (and then remembered) for measly disaster payments, create their own evacuation centres in rural communities, and organise much of the community recovery themselves.
From all corners, it has not been a well-handled affair by the government.
Still, a full enquiry into the causes and emergency response to the floods was announced on Monday, with former police commissioner Mick Fuller and chair of the Independent Planning Commission, Mary O’Kane, trusted with leading the investigation.
Kudra Ricketts, who rescued neighbours from flood waters and lost her home during the disaster, told 9News that Scott Morrison needed to speak to members of the community – despite him leaving Kirribilli House earlier that morning and not meeting with them.
“He’s done the same thing as when we were in Lismore and he didn’t want to speak to us. He doesn’t want to speak to us,” said Rickketts.
“I can see that – but it’s time that he starts to listen to us. Because unless we take real action on climate change this is going to keep on happening. Not just to our community, but other communities as well.”
“It’s climate change. Climate change is here now.”
Read more from VICE Australia.