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Each month on the A Rational Fear podcast feed we deliver long-form conversations with leaders in climate action from Australia and around the world. This is Episode 3 of Greatest Moral Podcast of Our Generation.
This week we have two incredible voices.
Yessie Mosby is part of the ‘Torres Strait 8’, a group of Torres Strait islanders who are taking the Australian Government to the UN Human Rights Council for their lack of climate action. Which, as you can imagine if you live in the Torres Strait, is quite the existential problem. And I also chat with Sophie Marjanac, is the lawyer driving the complaint.
This is a fascinating chat. If you’re like me, and live in a major city in Australia, it’s easy to be dismissive of sea-level rise as something that will effect other countries, other islands. Not our country.
But for those in the Torres Strait sea-level rise is ALREADY putting an entire culture, an entire race under threat. It’s fitting that this podcast’s schedule serendipitously lines up with NAIDOC week.
Big thanks also to my Bertha Fellow colleague, Linh Do, for covering the climate news up the top of the podcast with me.
YOU CAN HELP — SIGN THE PETITION
Yes, it’s another petition! But this one will update you on the complaint, and events that are being organised to support the case. Like, December 14th, there will be an online “Town Hall” for supporters and the public to meet the Torres Strait 8. If you sign the petition, you’ll be the first to be invited to sign up to the event. http://ourislandsourhome.com.au/#sign
TRANSCRIPT BY OTTER AI BELOW:
Bertha Announcement 0:00
This podcast is supported in part by the Bertha Foundation.
Yessie Mosby 0:04
Please help us we're here we need help. When we sit here in Ireland we sit, we sit as Australians. When we stand and we hold hands and we sing the national anthem, it states and we sing it with pride for let us all rejoice, advanced Australia fee and shouldn't that be recognised? Like we should be all you know, standing and supporting each other, being Australians.
Dan Ilic 0:29
G'day, welcome to the Greatest Moral Podcast of Our Generation. Joining me is Linh Do Hello, Linh. Hey, Dan, how are you doing?
I'm good. This is our third greatest moral podcast of our generation. We are making headway here. Last week's was or last month rather, was with Asha Gunzburg and Mike cannon Brookes, which I thought was pretty good. Actually. It was great.
Linh Do 0:48
I had so much positive feedback. And I think so much disbelief that you and I could relay in such big talent.
Dan Ilic 0:54
That's right. So Bill Gates, if you're out there, give us a call.
Linh Do 0:58
We're ready. We're ready. Now,
Dan Ilic 1:01
this is on the irrational fear feed. It happens once a month it is chats with climate leaders and the guests this month. Absolutely, undeniably, climate leaders, and you'll find out a little bit more about them just in a second. Before we do that, just want to thank our new Patreon supporters, Damian Payne and Philip both beads very nice of you. If you want to support a rational fear, and the greatest podcast of our generation, you need to go to patreon.com forward slash irrational fear. Another way you can support irrational fears to offset the carbon emissions from your car with go neutral for every $90 sticker go neutral by 3.5 tonnes of carbon offsets, which is about the average yearly emissions for a car and five bucks of that comes to us and you get a little sticker get to put it on the back of your car gets a virtual signal to all those other fossil fuel burning machines out there.
Linh Do 1:49
It's how everyone wants to be stuck in traffic behind a self righteous person. There's you know, carbon offsetting all of their emissions. That's right. Yeah,
Dan Ilic 1:56
there's people behind you. Oh, God, no, that is better than me. Whatever. I'm recording my end of the greatest model podcast of our generation on the land of the gadigal. In urination, sovereignty was never stated, We need a treaty. Let's stop the shot. Despite
Unknown Speaker 2:11
global warming. A rational fear is adding a little more hot air with long form discussions with climate leaders. Good.
Unknown Speaker 2:23
This is called Don't be fried. Here heat waves and drove greatest mass extinction. We're facing a manmade disaster,
Unknown Speaker 2:32
podcast, climate criminals.
Unknown Speaker 2:37
ration all of this with the global warming and
Unknown Speaker 2:42
a lot of it's a hoax. Book, right? A small podcast about generation for short, all right, let's
Dan Ilic 2:48
get let's get straight into the climate news for this month, Victoria is going to be home to the largest battery in the southern hemisphere. Hey, you're a Victorian How does that make you feel?
Linh Do 2:59
Makes me feel great between COVID locked down one of the longest in Australia and you know, proof that sometimes bigger is better. I'm super excited to be home to the biggest battery. This is
Dan Ilic 3:09
great. This is like a classic pissing contest between Victoria and South Australia. This one is is also a Tesla battery. But it's going to be double the size of the South Australian veterinary.
Linh Do 3:19
It's all about competition. Although I have to say it's a is it lagging behind? I thought they've got their new renewable hydrogen project that's going to come online sometime soon. So I guess maybe Victoria is going to get a new hydrogen project soon as well.
Dan Ilic 3:32
Everyone should have a new hydrogen project. It's like what you do in 2021? Do you know Do you know anything more about that hydrogen project?
Linh Do 3:38
No, no. Well, other than it's that interesting thing where hydrogen can be renewable. And sometimes it isn't renewable as well. So I think it's important to note that this one will be renewable. And that essays already sourcing half of its energy from wind or solar, which is pretty, pretty awesome.
Dan Ilic 3:54
I saw this week that solar has made up 44% of electricity in the grid in Australia this week, which is pretty amazing.
Linh Do 4:02
It is it's all of these numbers that I think we rarely get to hear about when you just listen to the climate news. It's all doom and gloom, and you're like, wait, Australia, all of these things are happening.
Dan Ilic 4:12
Well, in speaking of doom and gloom, the USA is out of the Paris Climate accord as of this week, but don't fret, because Joe Biden, who is of course, as we know, is President Elect said last week today, the Trump administration official left the Paris Climate Agreement and in exactly 77 days, a Biden administration will rejoin it. Now the good easy healing is that it took two years for the USA to get out of the Paris Agreement, but it only is it's only gonna take about 30 days for them to get back in.
Linh Do 4:41
So for exciting party in the USA party in the Paris Agreement, it's all the good news to come. But I think more importantly than just Biden. Getting back on board with the Paris Agreement is all the plans and initiatives he has in place a $2 trillion climate plan which seems really unthinkable in Australia and hopefully that means We'll start to pick up and not be left behind
Dan Ilic 5:02
nerd do anything that will get you $2 trillion is if you have a sportsground in a marginal electorate, and you need a women's change room.
Linh Do 5:11
This is why there are so many football fields nearly I think that now have all of these like construction works happening I've noticed during COVID
Dan Ilic 5:19
this is going to be hard for the democrats coming into this because of course, climate change previously used to be something in the near future, but it is happening right now climate effects are happening. So rapidly. Extreme weather is causing so much havoc across the world and the USA, so they're going to have to really work hard at trying to convince people to do the right thing here. One interesting, big power broker, john Podesta, who is a notorious lobbyist, himself running the Hillary Clinton campaigns, he is actually joining hands with the sunrise movement to try and get fossil fuel lobbyists out of the Biden Harris White House, which is incredible.
Linh Do 6:01
There's nothing like the old establishment joining with the new establishment to actually forge the new way forward. I don't think any world really wants to see just john Podesta running things or just sunrise running things. So hopefully they'll forge a new future of what's politically possible. What is it Obama
Dan Ilic 6:15
says? The arc of history bends towards justice, but but zigs and zags? Is that what he says?
Linh Do 6:22
It's just really one big scribble.
Unknown Speaker 6:23
Yeah, it depends. He's
Unknown Speaker 6:24
Dan Ilic 6:25
Let's just touch on this Lynn jar fits given his left the front bench of the Labour Party over climate change. Finally, Mr. Call himself member for hunter has said See you later. I am out of here. There's no way labour can win. If they take up a strong climate change position, which I don't necessarily think is true. I think he's going to be eating his words in about one year's time.
Linh Do 6:49
Yeah, but there's nothing like getting out of the way. I think if you're gonna be a soak about things all the time and not a team player, just get out of the way for people who are ready to do the work. So we're all for it.
Dan Ilic 6:58
It fits given notoriously on the right hand side of the Labour factions. He's been copying it not only from the left hand faction, but also the right faction. Some members of parliament on the right faction of labour called him the idiot from the hunter.
Unknown Speaker 7:12
Linh Do 7:14
So many people were saying goodbye, sir. In recent weeks with all these political announcements,
Dan Ilic 7:20
now, the other big news using bullshit now Adani is changing their name. Indian energy giant Danny is changing the name from Adani to the bravest mining and resources company. According to Adani, bravest means brave in Latin, but according to Latin experts, it doesn't quite mean brave Lin.
Linh Do 7:43
Exactly. It feels like no one at the Adani or bravest Corporation went to a private school where if you had one of those school blazers growing up, you would know that Fortis is what means brave and courageous. So even if you'd watched anything said in that sort of Roman Roman times, but it actually means krooked to formed some sort of mercenary, I've got a very apt
Dan Ilic 8:04
and a new professor said it means barbarians and Desperado or an assassin, although that is absolutely delightful that you have this coal company going in there trying to pretend to be noble, but in fact, what the reality is, is that they aren't and this is
Linh Do 8:24
exactly it's sort of a rose by any other name. I guess a disastrous climate project by any other name still is just as disastrous. This harkens back
Dan Ilic 8:33
to the time when they paid change their name in 2001, to be honest, petroleum. And I think I think it was only like four years later, they were like, let's get rid of the beyond petroleum. We don't.
Linh Do 8:44
But it was like a really good payoff stop for a while. And I think anytime very sort of name changes happen. I always have to pause and check myself. Is this someone powering the company? Or is this actually real news? Or is this fake news and can't believe it in this case with the Adani situation it Israel.
Dan Ilic 9:01
And one last bit of good news, a young Queensland man, Mark mcbay has made his Superfund one of Australia's biggest take the risks of climate change seriously, he took rest super to court, basically, because they weren't transparent on how their investments were polluting the world. And now rest has kind of come to this agreement that that not only they will be net zero emissions, but also the investments they have in their Superfund will be net zero as well, which is pretty interesting.
Linh Do 9:28
Yeah, it's great that the good news coming out of Queensland isn't just the State of Origin of results, but also something that hopefully will Bode really well for all of the other climate litigation claims out there in Australia, these lawyer
Dan Ilic 9:40
David bond and we've had on rational fear in the past. You may remember David Bandon from irrational fear when he was putting together class action with teenagers suing the government for their future. Now he's gone done this rest super case and coming up, he's got a case where he's taking to court the Commonwealth equities, basically saying that you No, you can't buy bonds in Australia, because Australian bonds are going to be worth nothing because climate catastrophes are going to wipe us out.
Linh Do 10:07
Yep, yep. And I think it's, you know, it gets a little bit nitty gritty and in legalese and can feel a bit boring. But I think the precedent that they set is really important, not just for those climate litigation cases, but what every other Superfund in Australia now has to do, regardless if they claim to be ethical or otherwise, because no one wants to be taken to court by one of their members.
Dan Ilic 10:27
You're absolutely right there. And I think this is a big win for David bond. And I think like he said, in the last year, he's had three big cases come to the front and setting precedents for all those things. I think there are really quiet people out there who are just chipping away with their own power to make things happen. And I think people like that are pretty extraordinary.
Linh Do 10:46
Exactly. I think, if you will, Superfund hasn't yet divested from fossil fuels. Definitely. Now is the time to write them a quick letter and say, hey, look at what's happening with breast suepo. What are you going to do in response?
Dan Ilic 10:57
pS, if you want to do an out of court settlement, My phone number is
you're listening to the greatest moral podcast about generation. So for today's good book, I speak with two people who are at the front of a legal and existential fight for climate action. Yes, he must be and Sophie marjanovic are taking the Australian Government to the United Nations over their willful neglect of human rights due to their lack of climate action. It's two interviews one after the other. Yes, he was on the phone from his home in mastic, which is also known as York Island. So it's a bit crackly and I caught Sophie first thing in the morning in London, so it's quickly for another reason. We both have a tide. Yes, he must be is an artist and craftsman who lives on massive Island, so called York Island. In the corner of the Torres Strait. Massive is a remote teardrop shaped coral cay island that is closer to Papua New Guinea than the Australian continent. It's a tropical paradise. It's home for Yes, his family and they can trace their history on that island for thousands and thousands of years. But this fragile place at the top of the Torres Strait is disappearing, the land is slowly being washed away by rising sea levels. And yes, he and his family, the land is everything. It's their culture, their religion, their library, their encyclopaedia, it's their town hall, it's where they've stored their stories of their family and their ancestors for over 60,000 years. And in the last couple of decades, they've been losing it bit by bit. So for YesI this fight is purely existential. And as Australians wave let him down, as well as being an award winning artist. Yes, he is also the power plant attendant of the island. And I had a chat with him a couple of weeks ago, as he was walking to the power plant to get the generator running. After a few minutes of small talk, I just leapt into the big questions.
Can you remember the first time you ever heard of the idea of global warming or climate change?
Yessie Mosby 13:08
Back in the days in the 90s? We didn't understand about it and none of the elders here in the village. Understand that. And back in the days, we were told, like Wait, wait, we stand on the beach, they would tell us like this needs to be the bush and the island needs to be right right out there is the beach. It's been taken away and eaten even in the 90s even in the 90s you're
Dan Ilic 13:33
recognising that land was being taken away from you?
Yessie Mosby 13:39
Yes, but not as not as now like when when I mean land has been taken away like a metre would be taken away in a year or so. And gradually it's been washed away. But now I'll give you an incident about April month last year. We've seen in just in that one day we seen three metres taken taken away just in in a matter of hours. Oh my god and we've seen we've seen our home washed away and we see no ancestral remains to be take like the sea was taking our ancestors remains out our genealogy online is has been washed away some we try to save some we could not save. Two years ago I was my wife line. My bloodline my wife's bloodline me and my case. We were running down on the beach and helping families to pick up my wife thing sixth generation My wife is and picked up a remains tried to save what what we called her but the second emendation took her oh my
Dan Ilic 14:43
gosh, that must have been pretty stressful. How are you feeling on that day? What what kind of thoughts were going through your your brain and your heart on that day?
Yessie Mosby 14:53
Looking at that like looking like on that particular day? automatically like you it was it was Like, it's a must, you have to do it, and stuff like that. Otherwise, my children won't see, you know, their bloodline or their ancestors, practically, if it wasn't for her, they wouldn't be here today. It was like, a fight for trying to save it from Mother Nature. But Mother Nature, practically took us a night and took all of the remains. It's it's like a whitewash now out from our line each way, you know, where you could go and say, and identify a loved one and, and tell our children like this grant, great, great, great grandmother here. This is what she's for you. And you don't we don't have anything there now to go and say this, this is your grandmother, like she's not there anymore. It was tough in a way to explain to the kids because like, you know, no kid should be walking in picking up the ancestors remains, you know, they should walk on the beach with their family and pick up shells and stuff like that.
Dan Ilic 15:58
I can't agree with you more.
Unknown Speaker 15:58
Tell me about
Dan Ilic 16:01
growing up in the 90s. And how back to that moment, you're talking about how folks didn't quite understand what was happening. When did you you personally notice that things were changing in the environment around you,
Yessie Mosby 16:12
personally, personally, it started here in 2000, when I moved back out, and I realised that when we had some scientists coming out, and they were predicting about, we most probably will be, will be have to be relocated, and stuff like that. That's when it got me thinking now and had my thinking caps on and said, Well, this is not like, you know, it could be stopped in a certain way. Yes, and that's what driven me to understand. And to go a bit deeper into understanding that what's happening now, there is, you know, there is something behind that, which is causing all of this. So it wasn't like through my through the 90s. And stuff like that we weren't so much educated in about in about climate change, and global warming. Yeah.
Dan Ilic 17:04
So how did you learn? How did what were the things you did to kind of learn and how did you share that knowledge with others?
Yessie Mosby 17:11
Well, we had a lady she used to work here, she became a good friend, and she's not a part of her life. She's a part of our clan, now part of our family and, and she helped us I really well, personally and asked, but I really need to know more, I want to know more. Because it was out of fear. I was fearing about my children and their children after them.
Dan Ilic 17:33
What kind of role did she have? Was she a teacher? Or Was she a scientist, so
Yessie Mosby 17:38
she's a lawyer, a lawyer. And she used to work here in the tourist rate. And she looked and understand that we didn't understand being so remote out from mainland Australia and living so in such a remote area, she noticed that we knew what was happening. But we really didn't know what was the cause of what's so she started to give us a witness. When the scientists came out. Now, that's when my eyes opened and stuff like that. And the field struck me. What year was that? She was here like five years ago. But I really practically sat down with her to know and gain more knowledge about all of this see what's happening two years ago, right. And when she was here, she was here and witnessing right at the same time, because all the airlines had to be shut down. No planes could fly in and no planes could fly out. So they got stranded here. And while they were stranded here, they've seen exactly now what we face every monsoon season. Is that, Sophie maronick. That's, that's correct. Yes.
Dan Ilic 18:45
So 2016, she came out to the Torres Strait to check it out and have a look around. And only a couple years ago, that's when really a major education kind of process was happening with people that live on the island. On the islands. It feels like all of a sudden, you've been hit with something that is unexpected, whereas a lot of other people around the country probably knew a lot more. It must be must feel really strange to learn something that a whole bunch of other people you knew about, and must feel rude that no one ever told you about it.
Yessie Mosby 19:23
Yeah, we always asked people to come and invite like we've invited the government to come to come to our island to have a look for their eyes and look what we what we see every day the changes in the life life, how it's changed dramatically. The field which I still even still today have is we don't want to be refugees in our own country. We have a right to live in Australia should be a country which should be so proud that Australia is the only country in the world who has totally two different race of indigenous People who live on the country which has been over been here for over 60,000 years. Yeah, title and blues one is like an amputation within the Torres Strait people because what like when I was talking earlier in how the blood connections and how are we connected to the other neighbouring tribes, and stuff like that, and to lose an island within them probably next 30 to 50 years is devastating. And it's, it will affect people even more mentally, physically and spiritually mushy. The beautiful thing about my home, the aura around this island, it welcomes you, when you fly around my island and you come down to land. The island welcomes you before you even touch your foot on the island. And when you walk here, this whole island is sacred to us because our our ancestral remains is scattered right through this island. This island is not only an island, which provided us with shelter, protection and food and water. It's our library. It's our school. It's a maternity ward. Our grandparents got no gave birth on this island. We felt Well, our families on this island, our whole language, our genealogy, all I need is played and based upon this island. And not only the people living here on Laci, but also the families who, which was married out and blessed. other islands around the tourist illustrate who have blood connection back to this island. This island is love. This island is powerful. And
Dan Ilic 21:49
it's it's sacred. It's at home. What kind of conversations are you having with your families and friends about climate change right now? Like what what do you talk about?
Yessie Mosby 22:02
We always talk about every time when it comes to the full moon time when it comes to the peak of the king tides. We talk about a lot, especially when the Wind Rises and stuff like that. It's it concerns, it leaves great concerns to us. Yeah. And we always talk about like, how can we try and save what we have? And how can we try and preserve what we have now from further inundation and further erosion?
Dan Ilic 22:31
How does it feel to know that your people are not necessarily responsible for climate change yet your people must be the first to immediately adapt and change yourselves and your culture. Because of it doesn't
Yessie Mosby 22:48
make you angry. It makes us feel like you know, it makes us feel like little kids were like little kids where they you know, get they being neglected. They being child abuse. That's what we feel, right? We're feeling because we know contributors to what's happening now. But yet we are the first ones to get the pain. We're the first ones to get caught when we're suffering. Yeah.
Dan Ilic 23:14
Does it feel lonely in that same respect?
Yessie Mosby 23:17
It feels lonely in this respect here because when we cry out, we're not being heard. Yeah. We're trying our best and we're trying to go through every like we know the saying that like, you know, when one door is closed, there's many more will open. So we are running now and trying to open every single doors and seeking help. The funny thing is our forefathers, my both of my grandfathers. They joined the army to fight for the country, all of us and with our forefathers, our grandparents. They've all contributed so much to Australia to the government. And yet they were still fighting in the backyard and trying to get like you know, recognises they're like, like, please help us we're here we need help. When we sit here in Ireland, we sit we sit as indigenous Australians, we sit as Australians, when we stand and we hold hands and we sing the national anthem. It states and we sing it with pride for let us all rejoice advance Australia fee and shouldn't that be recognised? Like we should be all you know, standing and supporting each other? Being Australian YesI.
Dan Ilic 24:37
I want to know about this un project. Tell me what are you doing about taking the Australian Government to task of climate action at the UN? How does that work?
Yessie Mosby 24:47
First of all, we invited the Australian Government to come up to our home to to to to have a look in what we're facing. He refused our invitation which made us go For the further, like I was saying earlier that
Dan Ilic 25:04
our voice is not being met with singing up for help, the only thing we want is to reduce all the ammunition, the thing for the mining and stuff like that, by reducing them, it'll give us a better chance to live longer here on our island. And this is why we're taking the next step to the UN, it must feel so unfair that a one group of Australians can profit off the missions that are going out. And yet, your home is literally being taken away from you because of it. And because of other people around the world. That just must feel so unfair. so unfair.
Yessie Mosby 25:46
It's so unfair, it's just like we're running around screaming our heads off. And only only our only, like, you know, only we are hearing her own voice.
Dan Ilic 25:56
Tell me more about the United Nations project. How did you develop this idea
Yessie Mosby 26:01
really made us to go down this path because of the Paris Agreement. And we said like, if there's not gonna like things, if the government's not gonna respond to us and stuff like that, this is where we're gonna go. So we see elk. And the lady Sophie came up and said, she would love to help us and support us in this.
Dan Ilic 26:22
Great and where are you now? what's what's the, what are the next steps with this project?
Yessie Mosby 26:28
The next step now is if it's like a waiting game, but it's most probably gonna be next year, the COVID-19 is playing a very big part, which now is like, actually, like a waiting game.
Dan Ilic 26:40
You don't have a lot of time to wait,
Yessie Mosby 26:43
no. As as you're waiting, where, where we're looking at a home, getting eaten away? Have you met other people around the world
Dan Ilic 26:52
who support your cause?
Yessie Mosby 26:55
We we've met through like, zoom link up, and a lot of feedback we get from the petition of violence at home, we have big more like support which, which from our mother's mother country, Australia, and throughout the world, as well, to see that they are supporting us is like, you know, lift us up more?
Dan Ilic 27:22
What are the young people who lives and work in the Torres Strait? How do they react to climate change? And what are their views about the future? Are they hopeful
Yessie Mosby 27:34
for them, like when we when when when I sit and talk to other other young youth here on machine, they look at the future, there's no sunshine at the end of the tunnel. They just living life, as we live life now and trying to save what we can. The great fear of their means. having their children living down on mainland Australia, who don't have the sacred connection back to country,
Dan Ilic 28:03
the sort of that must make you feel incredibly disconnected,
Yessie Mosby 28:07
big time, very, very much become disconnected. What we what we practice, in our traditional customary laws won't be the same if we're going to be trying to practice in our, you know, traditional culture somewhere else. It's going to be loss of connection to our country, to our culture, and our like likelihood,
Dan Ilic 28:30
if worst comes to worst, and you have to move country. Do you think there is hope to rebuild culture?
Yessie Mosby 28:36
I don't know. Being a cultural person myself. I've grew up around very strong cultural upbringing. And I can see that it's not going to happen. At this moment. Our families who resides down in mainland Australia we have a we have the cultural link which connects them back to country.
Dan Ilic 28:59
What about see you? Yes. A what hope do you have a about drastic action that this government will take in the next couple of years?
Yessie Mosby 29:07
I'm believing in faith. And I know that the Australia government will eventually act upon their words and help us. I really don't want to go down in the negativities and think about negativities. But you know, every, every now and then negativities, come come into my mind. But I'm trying to stand on positivity and try and think positive about the outcome would be great, and it will be a success. And our home will be saved.
Dan Ilic 29:38
YesI thank you so much for joining us on irrational fear. And thank you so much for sharing your story about Messick. It sounds like a beautiful place and I hope one day COVID will be over and we can come and do a live show in the Torres Strait for you.
Yessie Mosby 29:54
It wouldn't be such a blessing if us could come up and use you use will be much more welcome But we will we will be holding a big feast for you. Oh, well,
Dan Ilic 30:05
if I, if I get to come up, maybe I can. I'll tweet Scott Morrison from Torres Strait Island and tell him I'm there and he can come up to
Yessie Mosby 30:13
it would be great.
Dan Ilic 30:15
You know who you know what would be great would be, it'd be great for you to build a house for Andrew bolt. beachside, a beautiful house and call it the Andrew bolt house and convinced Andrew bolt to move to first to move to Messick. And so he can see what a beautiful place it is added. So you can you can be convinced that climate change isn't happening.
Yessie Mosby 30:45
I'll probably try building a leaf house, a traditional house. So you have a full insight in how we live.
Dan Ilic 31:00
It's such a stark kind of reminder, when you're talking about singing the National Anthem, and being Australian, and having a culture that is so unique and separated from the homogenous Australia we all consume in the big cities. It's such a precious thing that you have that I feel like so many people don't realise that we have it together. And I it would be such a shame to to lose it because we were being ignorant and and we ran out of time. And we just decided to burn more coal instead. Yeah. What is the best way that people who live in so called Australia can support you? What is what is something everyday Australians who are living in capital cities? Who probably don't think a lot about the tourist, right? Yep. how can how can they support you?
Yessie Mosby 31:54
We have a website, which is called our islands, our home.org. And you just type that in Google our islands, our home.org
Dan Ilic 32:08
there is a petition, it'll only take you a minute to to sign a petition. But by your signing of the petition, we'll save an ancient race of people to be refugees in their own country. Your support will save a race of people we could stay and still seeing from our own soil advanced Australia fee. It's a privilege to talk with you. It's a privilege to share your story on on my podcast. And I want everyone who's listening to this to encourage them to go to the our island our home webpage and put their name on the petition and let that group of people know that that your voice is important as well. Yes, he Thank you so much.
Yessie Mosby 32:54
Thank you. You have a blessed day.
Dan Ilic 32:56
That was YesI moseby. Lane, have you met any of the Tara stripe complainants before?
Linh Do 33:02
Yes, I have had the good fortune of meeting some of the terrorists right eight before and hearing the story. I think just as you were saying, it's always a reminder of how sad the possible climate impacts could be in this country where some of the first refugees will say will be some of our First Nations people, but also still really hurtful and inspiring to say how they're taking legal action. They're doing what they can, and it's up to us not to feel pity for them. But actually, how do we stand in solidarity is always the question I have in mind.
Dan Ilic 33:34
Yeah, and how can we value this culture more and recognise that Fuck, like, we could lose an entire race of people, an entire culture will disappear if we don't take action.
Linh Do 33:48
Yeah, it's really I think, unnerving to actually be reminded of that. It's just very, a combination of like, humbling and eerie. And just a real reminder, this is the good fight that we're all trying to embark upon right now. And how do we step that up?
Dan Ilic 34:02
It's really interesting like talking to him, he he's about my age. And it's it's kind of funny, like he's on a learning journey with the science as well as you know, someone like me, and he's but his flight is so much more existential than mine.
Linh Do 34:16
Yeah, and it's so much more confrontational as a result, right. I feel sometimes even though you and I, we live in brave climate, we can go to bed at night and be like, cool. Okay, that was it for the day. I'll wake up again tomorrow. But when it's hanging over you like that? I think it just permeates into absolutely everything.
Dan Ilic 34:33
Next up is Yes, he's lawyer. So if you imagine Nick, who's the one that's been putting together this landmark human rights complaint at the UN for the tar stride, this is Sophie. Tell us about the first time your entire stride and why you were there.
Sophie Marjanac 34:47
So I first went to the Torres Strait in 2010. To work as a paralegal in Native Title law, so land rights law, and meant that as part of my job, I was lucky enough to fly around to each of the outer islands of the Torres Strait, and get to know the communities. And it's such a beautiful and magical part of the world, I feel really privileged to have been able to experience that. So I was lucky enough to be able to go fishing and swimming on some of the beautiful coral reefs, and even got used to the crocodiles
Dan Ilic 35:22
and your work when you were there as a paralegal, can you kind of explain just the day to day, what was that about?
Sophie Marjanac 35:29
So basically, we represented the island is in any negotiations relating to their land. When anyone wanted to develop anything on Native Title land, we would represent them in relation to that. And also working on Native Title claims themselves, such as the Torres Strait regional seaplane, which was the first Native Title claim over sea territory and say, country in Australia. Wow.
Dan Ilic 35:57
Can you remember the first time meeting? YesI moseby? And
Yessie Mosby 36:00
what was that like?
Sophie Marjanac 36:02
Yeah, of course, I can. Yes, a is just an all around legend. When we first met, he was put forward as the representative for asik Island by some of the elders. And I'd say that's because he's got such a real passion for the culture and traditions. And he's very young. But he knows so much about the cultural history of his family, and takes the responsibility of being a young leader really seriously.
Dan Ilic 36:29
When we're talking about climate changes. Yes, he was saying like, when he was first kind of noticing what was happening, he, everyone on the islands was was noticing the effects of climate change. But I didn't understand why it was happening. You were one of the people that kind of helped them understand how this was happening and why it was happening. Can you walk us through that moment? Like when did you start kind of letting people know there about climate change and how the earth was changing?
Sophie Marjanac 36:55
So we visited the islands in late 2018 and early 2019, and conducted community consultations. And we also conducted an analysis of the legal options for the communities and discuss that with them. It was really hard to go through the scientific evidence with them and talk to them about the real risk that the islands are facing in in the coming decades.
Dan Ilic 37:25
When I was talking with the SEC, who was saying that the first step in this journey that they're on at the moment was to invite the Commonwealth to Messick to see the land be washed away. Can you talk us through that invitation? Who did you invite? And when did you invite them and what was it like to try and get people to Messick?
Sophie Marjanac 37:44
So that invitation was was actually personally delivered by cafe cafe. Tammy is one of the claimants he's from wherever Island, which is just next to massive Island. And he actually went to New York for the climate conference in September 2019. Last year, and he personally delivered the letter to the to Australia's High Commissioner to the United Nations, in New York. And the Prime Minister did eventually respond several months later, but declined the invitation to actually go up.
Dan Ilic 38:18
said no said I'm not going to get a message on they're gonna have a look at this is Ireland, a washed away?
Sophie Marjanac 38:24
I think, honestly, if he did go there, and I really do believe that if anyone went there, I mean, you just immediately get what this is about, which is, and you can see why climate change is a human rights issue. Because you understand how deeply connected those communities are to their country, that connection must be experienced on those islands if the people and that's really the fundamental basis of the case is that if the people can't be on their island, and that's a fundamental break with their culture, and with their lives with dignity as indigenous peoples,
Dan Ilic 39:01
I just want to go back to that letter. How did that decision get made to invite the prime minister to Messick or to Tara strike? And can you talk us through the steps that you and locals there we're going to going through to kind of get this plan in action.
Sophie Marjanac 39:17
Throughout this process, we've been working with Gbk which is the good Alberta route Cod, which means warrior place and that is the peak body for the Native Title prescribed bodies corporate in the Torres Strait it's it's translates into English as the Torres Strait sea and land Council. So the board of Gbk has been clear that even though the low lying islands are most well are affected, and are leading the way in this case. They're doing on behalf of the whole region, which is which is affected in different ways. The letter we worked with GVK to prove the text of that letter and Kobe took it to New York where he was invited to speak at a conference on human rights and climate change with young climate, and environmental activists from around the world and lots of indigenous people from around the world as well.
Dan Ilic 40:14
So a few months later, the federal government said, we're not going to come visit. Oh, Scott Morrison said he's not gonna come visit. What was the next step for you in that in that case?
Sophie Marjanac 40:24
Well, to be honest, my focus is on the legal side. So I'm, I'm, I'm the lawyer. The island is Gbk. And we've partnered with Bri fifty.org, Australia who are assisting the communities with a local campaign. They are running a website and a petition and various social media accounts, and really trying to work with other grassroots groups and getting some cross indigenous solidarity, which I believe is going quite well. But my focus has really been on working on the case, and bringing those human rights arguments to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, and attempting to we hope, make a new law on this topic, because this was this is the first case where these issues have have come so squarely before the committee. And we think it really is an excellent test case, because these islands are some of the most climate vulnerable in the world. And Australia is such an outlier. And such a laggard when it comes to global climate policy. I mean, unfortunately, Australia, Lee has performed far worse and many other rich countries that the policies are simply way behind. And I believe that's quite clear from the evidence. So we're hopeful to have a good decision, no matter what the decision is, I think it really will set a precedent of some kind. And we're hoping that the Human Rights Committee will prefer
Dan Ilic 41:56
it. And how long do you think this process is going to take? Like, what point will you get an answer from from the UN?
Sophie Marjanac 42:05
I suspect that they will make a decision next year. And we're very hopeful that that it's gonna be here rather than later. But of course, these processes do move relatively slowly.
Dan Ilic 42:18
And what are the actual ramifications first for the Australian Government, if the UN comes down on the side of the Torres Strait Islanders and in the people of Messick and I mean, Australia has a long history of ignoring the UN is, I guess, is kind of what I'm saying. Yeah. Are there any other any actual ramifications? Will there be a reason to be compelled to, to change the way they go that climate action,
Sophie Marjanac 42:43
I think the Australian Government does have a terrible record in relation to complying with decisions of the human rights treaty bodies, however, other states around the world do comply with those decisions. And so I think it does have the power to make a difference globally, and not just for Australia. And it also will mean that mean, it will clarify the law and move the jurisprudence forward, and I think really give the claimants and their communities a huge moral victory. They want people to know about what's going on on their islands, they want to tell the world about that. And they want their fellow Australians to see how precious the Torres Strait is and how that that connection, that cultural connection is at risk. So I think it's an opportunity to show the Australian public not only that Australia is really behind when it comes to climate change action on the global stage, and have that authoritative decision on that, but also, to show that these are this is the cultural heritage of all of us of our country. And that's what's being lost. And, you know, similarly to what happened recently NWA, there was quite an outcry over Rio Tinto decision on the jacket gorge. And we're going to see far worse cultural destruction of cultural heritage. And as I said, that belongs to all Australians. And that's really a tragedy.
Dan Ilic 44:04
What do you think there's such a disconnect between someone who has lived and worked in Taurus, right, why do you think there's a bit of a disconnect between the tar strait islands and, and mainstream Australia?
Sophie Marjanac 44:14
Well, practically, it's quite, it's very far away from most Australian Capital Cities, and it's really quite expensive and hard to get to. So I think that does put travellers off. So that makes it very special, because it really is. It really does take quite a bit of effort to get up there. But um, there are lots of toe Strait Islander people in Queensland especially. But I think, you know, Australia is generally relatively segregated still, and I don't think we've really recovered from the truth of our history. You know, we don't really see many indigenous stories are in the mainstream media, and in TV and newspapers, which I think is a real shame.
And probably a real barrier to that
Dan Ilic 45:04
that connection. And how do you think we can bridge that disconnect? what's the what's the best way to kind of tell this story?
Sophie Marjanac 45:12
I think all for me, I think, you know, the media has such a huge role to play. And, you know, really just bringing in…