Former Liberal leader John Hewson is among more than 200 prominent Australians calling for change. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS

Environment

Virus ‘rehearsal for the next catastrophe’

2020-07-24 16:01:31

The country’s leading scientists, performers and former politicians are warning Australians that the coronavirus pandemic is just a rehearsal for the next catastrophe.

More than 200 prominent Australians released a joint letter on Friday calling for action on climate change and shortages of food and water.

Among them are singer Jimmy Barnes, Nobel Prize winner Peter Doherty, Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett and former Liberal leader John Hewson.

Professor Hewson said the coronavirus pandemic response presented a chance to address problems and inequalities in Australian society.

“If the government doesn’t take this opportunity to do some really serious resetting, some genuine reforms, then that’s going to be a squandered opportunity which we’ll pay for for years,” he told AAP.

Prof Hewson said the Morrison government was only adopting a short-term strategy for the coronavirus crisis.

The letter from the Commission for the Human Future wants government, business and Australians to work together to face looming existential crises.

The group warns climate change is the main issue facing Australia, but also important are food, water and fuel shortages, and further pandemics.

One of Prof Hewson’s colleagues at the commission, Canberra GP Arnagretta Hunter, said the group was worried about the future of humanity.

“We’d like to see an increased acknowledgement of the range of threats in front of us,” Dr Hunter told AAP.