Perth mother and Extinction Rebellion activist Julia Jones describes why getting arrested made an important statement. Julia is one of three Extinction Rebellion WA rebels arrested in December for blocking the exit to the Office of the Premier.
THE UNITED NATIONS has given us only 11 years to limit catastrophic climate change, yet most of us go about our daily lives as though the climate emergency isn't happening.
Our children's lives will be filled with droughts, fires, famines and billions of climate refugees. This will likely lead to global conflict on a scale never seen before in the history of humanity.
So, together with two caring and brave grandparents I've met through Extinction Rebellion, we blockaded the door of the Dumas House in Perth and declared the building a climate crime scene.
The last straw for me was the new Environmental Protection Authority's (EPA) draft guidelines that were released the week before. The original guidelines released in March were quickly revoked following a crisis meeting between industry representatives and WA Premier Mark McGowan and the EPA began a new round of public consultation.
That's where I came in.
Along with 7,000 others, I had spent many hours in good faith researching and making my own personal submission regarding the EPA's draft guidelines. After the consultation period ended, I was thrilled to learn that 98 per cent of the submissions agreed with me that the original draft guidelines should be reinstated and strengthened.
But the voices of Australian people were again ignored, in favour of the fossil fuel industry.
The EPA describes itself as an independent board providing advice to the Environment Minister, but I believe it is clearly taking its advice from big polluters.
So I decided to get arrested by disrupting “business as usual”. The cops were polite and respectful, I felt safe and supported by my fellow rebels and I was home in time for an afternoon coffee. It cost me a day off work, there will likely be a fine and I got the usual abuse on Facebook.
But I can’t help wondering how my experience would have been different if I wasn’t a straight, white mum from the suburbs.
Just like climate change, our justice system impacts different people in different ways, with those affected first and worst usually being those who contributed the least to the problem in the first place. I feel a duty to stand up, especially since it is a sacrifice I can afford where others cannot.
As I caught the train into the city that morning with my climate crime scene tape hidden in my backpack, I looked out of the window at Leighton Beach, as I always do. There was so much smoke I couldn't even see the horizon. It’s heartbreaking enough that 700 Aussie families lost their homes right before Christmas (and so many more since), but knowing that our Prime Minister took a holiday in Hawaii that our volunteer firefighters can only dream of is rubbing salt into the wound.
Since becoming a rebel and speaking up for climate I've been told many times to stop being political, but a democracy requires citizens to be political. That’s the social contract. When citizens are not political it is called a dictatorship instead.
If you are one of the people who have been making submissions and signing petitions and writing to politicians and are sick of being ignored, we invite you to join us. You don't need to be arrested to be a rebel. For every arrestee, there are about 20-30 rebels working behind the scenes on wellbeing, legal support, arts, media, food, music, technology and more. We are doctors and teachers and architects. We are from all over the world and we are strictly non-violent.
I'd much rather spend my day at work, which I love, or with my children, who I love even more, but I could no longer sleep at night. Our government has broken the social contract and is no longer keeping Australians safe. We must stop talking and writing and sharing memes on Facebook.
We must tell the truth and act as though it is real.
To find out more about being arrested and the arrests process please message this page.
Julia Jones is a mother, author and business owner from Fremantle, Walyalup.
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