As you can tell from my last post, my 15-year old daughter is quite involved in the Student Strike 4 Climate movement and worked hard in the lead up to the election. On the day, she spent six hours at a polling booth trying to get people to think about climate change when they voted. My elder daughter also spent a couple of hours handing out how to vote cards.
Polls had consistently predicted a narrow win for Labor but, once again, the polls were wrong, and the conservative coalition (who have failed to take serious action on climate change) are back in power for another three years.
Besides the lack of strong leadership on climate change and some of the policy implications, one of the things that worries me most about the result is the message it gives the students who had worked so hard to make it a climate election. Alexa, and I’m sure many of the other students, felt they were actually making a difference. Whenever there was a story about climate change and the election, there was usually vision of the student strikers, and there was a sense they were really helping to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on future generations.
The election results, however, suggest that adults weren’t listening and that they really don’t care: other issues were seen as more important. For the young people (and others) who understand the potential impact of climate change on their future; this is very hard to comprehend.
One of the lessons I worry politicians might take from the election is that focusing on what you will do in Government is not as effective as being negative, running down the other side and misrepresenting policies, facts and positions (or even straight out lying). We say we want politicians who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, but they often do so at the risk of their political future.
The lesson I would like politicians, and others, to take from the election is the importance of listening deeply to people who are feeling marginalised, excluded or not heard. We need to focus more on engaging and listening rather than telling people what to think.
I was also helping out at a polling booth for most of the day, and there was a lovely woman handing out how to vote cards for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party. The labels thrown so often at One Nation supporters aren’t helpful. We need to go beyond the rhetoric and start listening to the concerns of people who are attracted to One Nation and other minor parties.
I think the environment movement needs to become much better at listening too. We need to listen to why so many people support mining and minimise the risk of climate change. We need to listen to people’s fears about the loss of jobs, the rising prices of energy and threats to their way of life.
It will be difficult because people will lose their jobs in the transition from coal and many aspects of our ways of life do need to change. But pushing for change without acknowledging people’s concerns and fears is likely to be counterproductive. Even though we face a climate emergency, we still need to think about how we can support and look after the people who will be effected by the changes we need to make.
I must admit I feel quite disheartened by the election results. I did hope for change, particularly in relation to climate change policy. It is scary because we are heading towards major environmental and social disruption, but our leaders and our nation seem incapable of taking the action needed to change paths. It would be easy (and, at times, tempting) to become despondent and to give into despair. Instead, I will stand by my daughters as they, and I, find the energy to continue to raise awareness and promote change, I will encourage inclusive, bottom-up approaches to community engagement; I will support initiatives that create a positive vision of change; and I will promote compassion, and an ability and willingness to genuinely listen to people with differing views.
If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:
- School Strike 4 Climate: Make it a #ClimateElection
- What are authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved and authoritative parenting styles?
- Parenting for a better world
- 10 ways to reduce your consumption
- 12 principles of a problem solving approach to conflict resolution
- Principles of nonviolence
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