The government’s role in this year’s black summer

6 May 2020

It was only three months ago when the Australian bushfire crisis came to a close after months of devastation. Since then, communities have been picking up the pieces left behind in this black summer’s wake.

© Kiran Ridley / Greenpeace

There’s no doubt that we are in testing times. We are faced with some of the greatest challenges to our livelihoods we may ever face.

While this past black summer was not a season we’ll soon forget, our politicians are acting like it never happened. Amid the chaos and uncertainty of the COVID-19 global health crisis, Australia’s leaders have been paralysed on climate policy, which needs to be in place to ensure that this summer of catastrophic bushfires is not the first of many.  

Now is the time to hold our leaders to account. Our communities and our wildlife simply cannot withstand the impacts of unprecedented bushfires fuelled by the climate crisis, year after year, if our government doesn’t act.

The unsettling truth about our government

In our 2019 investigation Dirty Power, we exposed the multitude of secretive connections between politicians, lobby groups, the media, and the coal industry, which saw our own leaders prioritising the demands of fossil fuel corporations over vulnerable people. 

We owe it to our bushfire-ravaged communities, who lived and continue to live through the confronting reality of climate change, to maintain transparency and accountability in Parliament and the media.

That’s why we’re returning to our investigation to delve even deeper into the government’s paralysis to taking meaningful steps for a safe, clean, and healthy future for us all in our new sequel documentary, Dirty Power: Burnt Country

Aftermath of the bushfires that devastated the small community of Nymboida, south of Grafton in NSW.

© Natasha Ferguson / Greenpeace

What is Dirty Power: Burnt Country?

Burnt Country is unlike any investigation on the government’s inaction during the bushfires. With full independence from government and corporate interests, we are uniquely positioned to take everyday Australians’ frustrations straight to our leaders’ doorsteps—and to as many screens as possible. With the help of Greenpeace’s Head of Research and Investigations Nikola Čašule, award-winning filmmaker Chris Phillips, and veteran journalist Kim Paul Nguyen, we will uncover the uncomfortable truths about our policy makers and the state of our burnt country, to expose:

  • How fossil fuel companies and our government’s inaction on climate change made the fires worse
  • Why, despite an unprecedented bushfire crisis, the federal government remains opposed to stronger climate action that will save lives
  • How the Murdoch press and an online campaign of social media disinformation was mobilised to spread lies about the true causes of the bushfires, and deny the role of climate change in their spread and intensity

This is a watershed moment. We need to have a frank conversation and act on the troubling shortcomings of our leaders this summer when Australians needed them most, and now when politicians scramble to respond to a major crisis once again.

Watch our trailer for Burnt Country below:

We need your help to make this investigation possible

We haven’t forgotten about this black summer and the bushfire survivors—and we must ensure the government knows we are watching. The COVID-19 pandemic we now face has unearthed the political will demanded of our leaders in times of crisis—a political will that, only a few months ago, was thought to be impossible. When lives are on the line, we must mobilise this capacity for large-scale change. There has never been a more momentous time to call on people power to hold our government to account and to ensure our conversations around the climate crisis are free from disinformation. Our lives will depend on it.

To make our investigation possible, we need your help. Burnt Country—and Greenpeace as a whole—is powered by people like you, not corporations or government. That’s why we rely on individuals to support and donate to our cause. Your generous giving will:

  • Fund Burnt Country’s production to build the most comprehensive and engaging investigation possible
  • Amplify Burnt Country with effective campaign materials to reach more Australians—and every global citizen concerned with the lack of climate leadership emanating from Parliament
  • Ensure we can continue to witness, investigate, and act on crimes committed against our communities and ecosystems

Your support will make all the difference in this fight to protect our communities and our wildlife. To show our immense gratitude, we want to thank you for your contribution to our investigation. As a vital contributor to our crowdfunder, you’ll receive:

  • Exclusive emails and updates as this investigation develops
  • Priority access to the documentary before anyone else
  • Credits in the documentary if you have made a major contribution

Your voice and your support can be truly impactful. We couldn’t have imagined the challenges we now face, but it’s precisely in this time of uncertainty and isolation that we must come together to safeguard our communities and our planet.

By Uyen Cao, Greenpeace Youth Ambassador and International Relations Student.