Claire J. Harris

About Claire J. Harris

Claire Harris is a writer in exile who has spent the last decade travelling and working around the world. This is not nearly as glamorous as it sounds and usually involves scraping by on a diet of muesli and cheap wine. Occasionally together. You can find her at

Australia is on fire, and no-one in power seems to care

Despite the fact that the fires in NSW are now “too big to put out”, those in power continue to entertain denial.



A couple of days ago, my sister sent a message to the family Facebook chat — their area in the Blue Mountains was declared “too late to leave” as the roads out were closed off. She had already evacuated her two kids to my Mum’s house in Sydney and driven back to defend her farm and livestock with her husband.

Even the much-despised former PM Tony Abbott was a volunteer firefighter — he’d probably be out there at the frontlines with his shirt off, having his photo taken battling the blaze.

Yesterday, I watched a press conference held by a collection of former fire chiefs, announcing their intention to hold an emergency summit once they are finished with the formidable task of fighting this season’s fires. Our Prime Minister has declined to attend. They stated in no uncertain terms that the unprecedented nature of these fires is linked to climate change and that in the face of a “leadership vacuum”, they felt compelled to address the public because the government won’t.

Photo taken by the author’s sister


But it is not just Scott Morrison who has failed us. Where the bloody hell is Anthony Albanese? The leadership void left by the Prime Minister clears the way for the as-yet-unproven Opposition Leader to take charge.

While rallies for climate action are being held in Australia’s major cities, Albanese has a unique opportunity to be at the forefront in demanding change. He would have a ready-made platform to assure thousands of Australians that he understands our concerns, that it won’t be an easy transition away from a coal-based economy but that a Labor government in 2022 will demonstrate the leadership our country desperately needs. He could point to the fires, to the smoke literally filling the air, and say “We have a plan to fix this.”

The fact is, we have no leaders stepping forward to take control of the situation, to help us see a way forward out of the smoke haze and prospect of even longer and hotter summers. The only politician addressing the climate rallies is the Greens leader Richard Di Natale, who has somehow been squarely blamed for the fires — even though his party has never been and most likely never will be in power.

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