After tipping the burnt remains of his family home onto the footpath outside NSW parliament, Aaron Crowe declared now as precisely the right time to talk about climate change.
The 38-year-old lost his two-bedroom home - which he shares with wife Fiona Lee and three-year-old daughter Peppa - on Friday after a fire tore through the tiny community of Warrawillah on the state's mid north coast.
They came to Sydney on Tuesday to attend a rally in Macquarie Street where they joined demands for more firefighting resources and protested legislation relating to mining approvals and greenhouse emissions.
This is Fiona. She, her partner & their 3 yr old lost their home to the fires on Friday. And yes, those are the ashes of their home. Fiona says: “For me, there has never been a better time to talk about climate change." pic.twitter.com/AN1Ovfy7Cy— School Strike 4 Climate (@StrikeClimate) November 12, 2019
A bill originally slated for debate this week but now likely delayed, curtails the power of planning authorities to consider climate pollution regarding new coal and gas projects.
Standing among the hundreds of others gathered, Mr Crowe held up an old compost bin and tipped some of the charred remnants onto the pavement.
"In this bucket is my house," he told the crowd.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has hit back at questions linking fires raging around NSW to climate change, insisting now is not the time to discuss the issue - a sentiment Mr Crowe dismissed.
"When's the time to talk about climate change then, if I'm standing in the wreckage of my own house," he said while speaking to reporters.
"We had ample time to prepare and they're talking about hopes and dreams, thoughts and prayers, miracles and heroes. It's not realistic."
Some 78 fires continue to burn on Tuesday, 26 uncontained and 13 at "watch and act" level.
Three people are dead, 100 including 20 firefighters have been injured and at least 150 homes have been destroyed.
A catastrophic fire danger rating is in place for the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter and Illawarra-Shoalhaven regions.
"This is not about unicorns and fairies, this is about people's lives. It's only gonna get worse - they want to wind back climate policy now when people are dying from climate change," Mr Crowe said.
"You think this is a coincidence? The scientists are telling you this is going to happen, the fire chiefs want to meet with our prime minister and tell him this is going to happen and it happens, and they say, 'don't talk about climate change'!"
Ms Lee's hands shook as she stood in front of a photo of what was left of her home.
"The time is definitely right for talking about climate change - for me, there has never been a better time to talk about climate change," she told the crowd.
"This is what the climate and ecological emergency looks like."
In that tin are the ashes from Fiona and Aaron's home. Gut-wrenching. We stand in solidarity with everyone impacted by this tragedy. Please donate generously to the bushfire appeals. #bushfires #climatecrisis pic.twitter.com/RZcdi0IqJJ— School Strike 4 Climate (@StrikeClimate) November 11, 2019
Mr Crowe's mother Vicki Crowe, who retired from her local fire brigade last year, also attended the protest.
Her husband Wayde stayed behind to protect their property in Warrawillah after they previously lost a home to fire.
"In all the years I've been in the fire fronts I have never seen anything like this," she told reporters.
"The government has abandoned its own people in this major time of crisis."
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