Acting on the climate crisis needs the support of our John Hewsons and much more

John Hewson

Contributed by Joe Montero

That former leader of the Liberal Party an economist John Hewson has spoken out and argued for a conscience vote on voting for the declaration of a climate emergency is important.

“Climate was an emergency some 30 year ago,” he said.

Hewson represents an important section of the coalition parties forming the Morrison government, and his standing up represents friction within and in the political base of the government. The dissenters may be a minority at present. Despite this, they are a voice that strengthens the overall movement for action on the climate crisis. and they can reach people that others can’t.

Although the push for a conscience vote will not solve the problem on its own, It will weaken the forces trying to prevent action in this direction.

It joins a stirring among famers. Many of them are experiencing the reality of more frequent and longer lasting droughts. When it hits home, more call for something to be done. Pressure is put on the Coalition parties and those, and those interests profiting from polluting the air with carbon that stand behind them.

More and longer lasting drought is a reality in Australia

Another important development is that three million Australians already live in municipalities where their local councils have declared a climate emergency, and the number is growing every day. The Greens and much of Labor are for declaring a climate emergency..

Although important, a declaration in itself does not mean a great deal. Far more important, is to connect it to the practical measures needed.

A declaration of an emergency is hollow without taking emergency measures. This means the mobilisation of people and resources, to take on the threat we all face.

Time is short. Waiting for the crisis to be solved through parliament and local councils is not going to win the day. For this requires the involvement of millions, and for two very good reasons.

The political system is seriously flawed and incapable of meeting the need. Change needs the active participation of the citizenry in it bringing about, from the bottom up.

What is at stake is too important, and the scale of the change needed is too big, for it to occur any other way. It also means that the broadest possible unity across the whole of society must be built.

Individuals like John Hewson are part of this. All schools of thought must be welcomed and united by agreement, that there is a climate emergency and that serious action to avert it must be taken.

Doing this involves working for a consensus on the need to change the structure of the economy. The one we have, dominated by a few large corporations and presided over by finance, must give way to an economy where we work together, for a shared benefit and ensures ongoing sustainability.

There may be differences as to what this means. That’s alright. No one has all the answers. The the details of the way forward must be worked out through practical experience, correcting weaknesses and building on strengths. The important thing is to begin this journey.

Asutralian society must strive for agreement in the direction. Those who might fear such a change can be won over for the most part. We must all come to realise that there is no other way.

A change on this scale is unthinkable, without simultaneously building a properly democratic foundation.

It is becoming abundantly clear that what at present passes for democracy is seriously flawed. Unless there is something much better, the elite that is now in control will continue to be in control, and this means that the needed change will not come about. Once again, there is no other choice.

This means building institutions that provide the means for the whole of society to participate in making decisions and implementing them: All of us working together to create the future. The concept of citizen’s assemblies is a good start. What forms these takes is a matter for debate. The important part is achieving a point of widespread agreement, trying it out, and learning from the experience to do even better. This is possible.

Political power and the economy must be put in the hands of the citizens.

All that is needed is the willingness to work together and the courage to do what needs to be done. This applies across much of the political spectrum.

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