20 December 2019

Acting PM flies into Merimbula climate protest

| Ian Campbell
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The Acting PM's security detail was quick to respond

The Acting PM’s security detail was quick to respond. Photos: Ian Campbell.

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack flew into a loud and passionate climate protest under skies thick with bush fire smoke at Merimbula on Thursday (18 December).

There to open the new terminal building at Merimbula Airport with Bega Valley Shire Mayor Kristy McBain and State MP Andrew Constance, the Nationals leader was mobbed, heckled and questioned by around 40 protesters.

Shortly into his opening remarks, Mr McCormack was rushed by a number of people chanting slogans and carrying placards.

Mr McCormack tries to address the crowd

Mr McCormack tries to address the crowd at the opening of the new airport terminal at Merimbula.

The Acting PM’s security detail was quick to respond, manhandling a number of protesters out of the new terminal building and locking the doors behind them. Some of those wrangled away from Mr McCormack were visibly shaken and upset by the experience, suggesting the physicality of the response was over the top as they were shown the door.

“They’ve got a right to protest, they’ve got a right to wave their placards,” Mr McCormack said.

“They can shout all they like. I hope they are on their lunch break; if they want to do that during their lunch break and then go back to productive work, that’s fine.”


The crowd that gathered was made up of around 40 climate protesters and supporters of the airport redevelopment.

Quizzed by the national and local journalists gathered, Mr McCormack brushed aside suggestions that Prime Minister Scott Morrison had deserted Australia during a bush fire crisis by choosing to holiday with his family in Hawaii.

“Everybody deserves a holiday, he’s worked hard this year, he’s achieved great things,” the Acting Prime Minister said.


Mr McCormack’s visit attracted national media attention.

Asked about the future of agriculture and a report from government commodity analyst ABARES that shows some annual farm profits have fallen by 35 per cent, or $70,900 a year because of Australia’s warmer and drier climate, Mr McCormack’s response was upbeat.

“We are working to build agriculture from the $60 billion sector it is to a $100 billion sector, and we will go on building that with the right policies,” he said.

Bega Valley Shire Councillor and President of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action Jo Dodds presented the Acting Prime Minister with a letter, reading in part:

“We have members who lost their homes on Black Saturday, the Canberra fires, the Tathra and District fire, Yankees Gap and more. We are homeowners, firefighters, retirees, business people and farmers,” the letter reads.

“We want you to lead right now, with sympathy and understanding and real assistance. We need you to stand up for us, your Australian communities at risk from the climate emergency. We need you to understand what’s happening, why it’s happening, and ACT NOW.

“Mr McCormack, please don’t wait until the fire is at your own door before you recognise what is fuelling this situation. We invite you to work with us towards serious reductions in greenhouse emissions, adequately resourcing fire and emergency services, assisting communities to become more resilient in the face of drought, fire, flood, storm and coastal erosion.”

Protesters chatting along the fence line as Mr McCormack bordered his Air Force jet were left unconvinced that the Nationals leader recognises the influence climate change is having of the tense bush fire situation across the state.

Mr McCormack leaves Merimbula

Mr McCormack leaves to the sounds of protesters chatting.

Original Article published by Ian Campbell on About Regional.

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rationalobserver8:35 am 23 Dec 19

Since flying is so bad for the environment, those protesters should show some leadership of their own and boycott the local airport. Lead by example!

What do we want?
When do we want it?

Capital Retro8:42 pm 21 Dec 19

““Mr McCormack, please don’t wait until the fire is at your own door before you recognise what is fuelling this situation. “

What planet do these protesters live on? Everyone and their dog knows that forest litter buildup is the only “fuel”.

rationalobserver6:04 pm 21 Dec 19

Opportunists using any avenue they can grab to push their mantra.
Give it a rest please, you do your cause harm by being way too overt.

Aww….They rushed the acting PM, were restrained and ejected. Too harsh? Plenty of other countries that would have got them shot in.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

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