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4 March, 2021

Snail-mail Plea

Local writer and wildlife expert Stella Martin has written 100 letters in 75 weeks to the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, imploring him to take more urgent action on climate change. It took 60 letters before he wrote a reply.

By Tanya Murphy

She posted her 100th letter on Monday and has also printed a book of her letters, totalling more than 30,000 words, planning to present it to local member Warren Entsch.

Ms Martin, a Cairns local of 30 years, worked for the Queensland Parks and Wildlife service as a wildlife researcher and writer for 21 years, and has also published a book on Australian wildlife.

Now retired, Ms Martin wrote one letter to the Prime Minister every day for 38 days starting in October 2019, and after that, began writing once a week in a personal challenge she called “Mail Morrison on Mondays.”

No two letters were the same as Ms Martin spent hours each week researching and referencing a range of environmental, political, economic and ethical arguments as to why she believes Australia needs stronger climate action policies.

Ms Martin said she had been mindful of climate change ever since she first heard about it in the 1970s.

“I cycle for transport whenever possible and use solar panels and solar water heaters at my house, as well as volunteering in planting trees for Treeforce,” said Ms Martin.

“However, it was witnessing devastating coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 that cemented my conviction that individual action is not enough, and we need leadership from the top to address this problem, starting with the Prime Minister.”

In her letters, Ms Martin voiced her concerns not only about the threat to coral reefs and the communities like Cairns which depend on them, but also the threats posed to wildlife, agriculture, homes, human health, and the economy from increasing droughts, bushfires, floods, storms and heatwaves as a result of climate change.

According to Ms Martin, Mr Morrison’s climate policies to address these issues are falling behind the rest of the world and even Australian states.

“Mr Morrison, your government is at odds with Australian states, all of which have zero emissions targets of 2050 or sooner,” Ms Martin wrote in one of her letters.

“Our per-person emissions are more than double those of China, greater than the United States and three times those of the United Kingdom, while the average person in Indonesia emits just 10 per cent as much as we do.

“In fact, Australia’s per capita greenhouse emissions are among the highest in the world.”

Ms Martin said she only received her first reply after her 60th letter.

“I received a reply assuring me that Australia was ‘taking strong climate action,’ which is demonstrably not the case, when compared with the rest of the world,” said Ms Martin.

Over the next few months Ms Martin received two more replies which were slight variations of each other, and said she did not truly feel her concerns had been listened to.

“I’m glad I wrote the letters – if only to prove that we have a Prime Minister who will ignore not only world experts and his fellow global leaders but also his constituents until they have written him more than 60 letters,” she said.

“While fending off exhortations from prominent figures such as Joe Biden and David Attenborough, why would Morrison listen to one elderly voter in far north Queensland?

“It’d be nice to see more people writing to their elected representatives to ask for climate action – flooding their inboxes with letters so they can’t ignore them.

“I’m only one person, but everyone has the power to make a small difference, and together, our efforts make a big difference.”


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