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AUSTRALIAN climate activists have vowed to defy politicians by pressing ahead with protests targeting Prime Minister Scott Morrison over wildfires that have ravaged large swathes of the country.
Victoria state Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville described the demonstrations, set to take place in nine cities as “selfish and reckless,” with today expected to be a high fire danger day.
“I don’t want to see police having to pull people out of [fire-affected] communities to come in and manage a protest. There is a time for protests. It’s not this Friday,” she said on Wednesday evening.
Her concerns were echoed by Victoria’s Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, who said that the last thing the emergency services needed was for people to be “deviated or distracted” by a well-meaning but poorly timed protest.
“People are entitled to protest, absolutely, but the timing is wrong,” she told reporters.
“People are recovering, trying to recover, at the same time they’re preparing for another spike event.”
But critics have accused the authorities of hypocrisy after the New South Wales state administration refused to cancel a huge New Year’s Eve firework display in Sydney.
Many of today’s protests have been organised under the slogan Sack Scomo – short for Scott Morrison – reflecting widespread anger at his handling of the fires.
“We’re protesting this Friday because we’re outraged about our government’s criminal negligence about the bushfire crisis, exacerbated by climate change,” said one group on Facebook.
“We are protesting to give a voice to the tens of thousands of people who want real action on climate change and real funding for relief services.”
They are organising around five key demands and calling on supporters to donate to fire relief efforts.
At least 27 people are known to have died in the fires and thousands have lost their homes. Millions of animals have also been killed.
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