Extinction Rebellion climate protesters have vandalised the front of federal Parliament and Scott Morrison’s Canberra residence, spraying slogans and burning a pram after the release of the damning IPCC report warning of environmental catastrophe.
Several protesters glued themselves to the forecourt of Parliament House and potentially caused serious damage to the building’s iconic marble columns on Tuesday, claiming the Coalition government was a “climate criminal”.
Despite a permanent police presence outside Parliament, protesters with red spray paint managed to write the phrases “no time”, “climate duty of care” and “1.5 is gone” on a wall in front of the building early on Tuesday.
Other protesters wrote “duty of” on the large marble columns on Parliament House’s facade, just steps from the heavily-guarded front doors, before being stopped by authorities.
Protesters filmed themselves spray-painting the slogans, as cars drove past the building.
Three people superglued their hands to the ground outside Parliament, after setting fire to a pram. One, who gave her name as Violet Coco, told The New Daily that act “symbolised the death of our children’s future”.
WE DEMAND A DUTY OF CARE.
“We take responsibility for our actions and are willing to face the consequences, unlike our politicians who won’t even acknowledge they have a duty of care to the children of this country,” says grandmother rebel Lesley pic.twitter.com/MYww66tXaS
— Extinction Rebellion Australia (@XRebellionAus) August 9, 2021
“We intentionally damage this building in retaliation against the government which causes intentional damage to our entire world and to current and future generations,” Extinction Rebellion tweeted.
Protesters said about 30 people were involved in the action.
Not far away in Canberra, other protesters scrawled similar phrases on the outside walls of The Lodge, the Prime Minister’s residence in Canberra.
Police attended both sites, detaining protesters.
— Jonathan Lea (@JonathanLea10) August 9, 2021
The action came hours after the release of the latest report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which raised the alarm over “intensifying” temperature rise.
The worst of five scenarios modelled shows 1.6 degrees of warming within 20 years and a planet that’s 4.4 degrees hotter by the end of the century. Scientists have warned an increase of 1.5 degrees would bring about devastating climate change, violent weather and natural disasters, and massively affect global ecosystems and food supplies.
The use of the phrase ‘duty of care’, protesters said, was a reference to a Federal Court ruling that found Environment Minister Sussan Ley had a duty of care to protect children from climate change.
The ruling, which the Minister is appealing, found that she had to consider the potential for personal injury – via climate change – in approving a new coal mine project.
TND has contacted the offices of Mr Morrison and Ms Ley for comment.
At a press conference in Canberra to respond to the damning IPCC report, Mr Morrison blasted the earlier protests.
“The Australian way is not what we have seen with the vandalism in our capital today. I don’t associate in any way, shape or form that foolishness with the good-hearted nature of Australians who care deeply about this issue, as I do,” he said.
“Action will be taken against those who have committed those offences in our capital today, as they should.”
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud called the protest “disgraceful”.
Disgraceful protesters defacing the outside of the people’s house. This isn’t protesting, it’s vandalism. pic.twitter.com/ed5a4sFW09
— David Littleproud MP (@D_LittleproudMP) August 9, 2021
Resources minister Keith Pitt also called it “disgraceful”, in an inteview with Sky News. He added he was “surprised they managed to make it this far”, noting that Parliament was “one of the most secure buildings in the country”.
Parliament House staff immediately started trying to clean the marble. However, initial attempts using a pressure hose were unsuccessful, with concerns the paint might seep into the white marble.
Staff covered up the damage with boards in the interim, after struggling to remove the paint.
Parliament House is closed to the public, due to COVID restrictions. The protest activity led to one main entrance also being temporarily closed.
“ACT Policing is responding and managing. Building occupants are advised to exercise care,” the Department of Parliamentary Services advised.
-more to come