Acclaimed author Tim Winton has used a closing address at the Perth Festival to implore people and governments to wean themselves off a reliance on fossil fuels industries, calling the current approach to climate change a “smouldering dumpster fire of business as usual”.
- Tim Winton, Stella Donnelly, and Pond frontman Nick Allbrook raised concerns about sponsor Woodside’s Scarborough gas project
- Scarborough is expected to emit millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas annually
- The festival says it receives support from sponsors representing the scope of WA business
Winton was the latest in a string of artists who used their appearances at the event to denounce Woodside’s Scarborough gas project west of Karratha, as well as the company’s sponsorship of a WA Symphony Orchestra (WASO) and WA Youth Orchestra (WAYO) event inspired by climate change.
Stella Donnelly and Pond frontman Nick Allbrook were among those to raise their concerns about the environmental impact of the project expected to emit millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas annually.
Winton said in an interview with ABC Radio host Nadia Mitsopoulos that the fossil fuels industry had a disproportionate influence on society and culture.
A day prior, the Cloudstreet author raised his concerns about climate change complacency during his closing address of the annual Perth Festival Writers Weekend.
‘We have to acknowledge it’
He told the ABC he wanted the address to spur “rational and civilised” discussion about arts industries receiving funding from fossil fuel companies.
“We have to acknowledge it, we have to move on.”
Winton has been outspoken in his activism for marine conservation and protection of the Ningaloo reef near Exmouth.
He believes there is a false perception that fossil fuels companies are “the only shop in town” when it comes to sponsorship of community groups and arts organisations.
Winton said he recognised it was difficult for groups that rely on sponsorship to find support, but urged those groups to look elsewhere for funding.
“Let’s face it — banks, super groups, investor groups, they’re all divesting of fossil fuels,” Winton said.
Winton said governments should be leading climate change action by providing incentives and helping the public enact change.
“We’ve got so much access to free sunshine and wind and we’re terrified of making this move,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s an accident that we’re terrified.
“And also our governments, our leaders, are even more terrified than us.”
Festival a platform for perspectives
Perth Festival executive director Nathan Bennett said the festival was proud to have had Winton speak at the conclusion of its Writers Weekend.
“Perth Festival has always been a platform for many art forms, voices, and perspectives to be heard,” he said.
He said corporate sponsorship helped the not-for-profit arts organisation to provide world-class cultural experiences and to deliver “huge employment, social, and economic benefit to WA”.
A spokesperson for Woodside said its sponsorship of Perth Festival’s WASO and WAYO events was helping to develop local talent and create pathways for gifted and emerging musicians.
“Our 30-year relationship with the Western Australian Youth Orchestras reached new heights in 2021 with the addition of a new partnership connecting WAYO with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra,” said the spokesperson in a written statement.
“Through the partnership, WAYO musicians are provided with unique opportunities to learn from Western Australia’s professional state orchestra.”
Perth Festival’s Nathan Bennett said the festival received financial support from a wide range of partners that represented the scope of WA business.
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