STRIKE: Clermont engineer Daniel Bleakley on the steps of the Victorian parliament.
STRIKE: Clermont engineer Daniel Bleakley on the steps of the Victorian parliament.

Why this Clermont engineer is starving himself

AN ENGINEER raised in Clermont and now working in the mining industry has hoisted flags and set himself down at the entrance to Parliament House in Victoria for 10 days without food.

Today, Daniel Bleakley was on day four of a 10-day hunger strike that is part of a global orchestration by environmental protest group Extinction Rebellion against what it considers political inertia.

Mr Bleakley, 37, was born in Mackay and moved to Clermont when he was two.

Brisbane gave him a mechanical engineering degree, and it was in that sunny city he wrote his first letter to a politician about global warming.

Afterwards he worked in the mining industry and now lives in Melbourne, having started his own business.

"I've been learning about global warming for almost two decades now, and it's only getting worse," Mr Bleakley said.

"A lot of people aren't getting the truth. They're not getting the urgency of this issue and the opportunities we're missing out on."

He demands that the federal and state governments declare a climate emergency and commit to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

 

Friday is day four of Mr Bleakley’s hunger strike.
Friday is day four of Mr Bleakley’s hunger strike.

 

"I've worked in the coal mine up there [in Clermont] and I really care about that community and want to see it viable and sustainable.

"For mining towns in Central Queensland there is a massive opportunity to get involved in renewable energy and hydrogen exports. If we start building that now, no one will beat us at it because we've got so much land, so much sun, so much wind.

"We need transition plans and mass investment in sustainable industry in Queensland. Otherwise we're not doing justice to the coal-mining workers."

Mr Bleakley said the fires in Queensland and New South Wales have been aggravated by government inaction.

"The scientific evidence is clear that we are in a climate emergency right now.

"For the last 30 years, scientists have been predicting that there will be an increase in the intensity and frequency of bushfires around the world. All the predictions they've made are coming to pass right now.

"These catastrophic fires have happened in spring time. It's not even summer yet."

Family and friends are backing the demonstration.

"I've got a good friend in Mackay who has sent me some messages supporting me. That's nice to hear and gives me a lot of strength to continue.

"And I'm reassuring mum that I'm healthy and letting her know that I'm okay. She fully supports it."

Climate change, Mr Bleakley said, will lead to food and water shortages, precipitous population movement, and possibly geopolitical conflict.

"We're rapidly approaching critical tipping points that we may not be able to get out of."

"We need to acknowledge that and start to change our systems so that we can protect our children."

But about his stomach, he had more optimism.

"I'm going to have some massive feasts at the end."

Extinction Rebellion is the environmental movement responsible for the 'Spring Rebellion' in October, during which protesters occupied cities in Australia and other countries.


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