Thousands of protesters have blocked the main streets of major cities across the country. Climate scientists have warned the frequency and intensity of bushfires will worsen as Australia becomes hotter and drier.
Thousands of people took to the streets in Australia's major cities to rally against Scott Morrison's government's inaction on climate change and its handling of the ongoing bushfire crisis that has devastated the country, destroying wildlife and polluting the air.
Friday's protests marked the country's first major demonstration since the fire season began in late July. The nationwide rallies were organized by university students and broadcast live on social media platforms.
Masses gathered in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart, blocking major roads in the cities as protesters chanted "ScoMo [Scott Morrison] has to go ," and armed with signs, placards and banners that read "There is no climate B," "Save us from Hell" and #sackScomo, a hashtag surfacing across social media in a dig against the prime minister.
Undeterred by heavy rain, a welcome change from the recent extreme dry weather, huge crowds in Melbourne came out shouting "Phase Out Fossil Fools," "Fire ScoMo" and "Make Fossil Fuels History."
At least 26 people have lost their lives in the fires and more than 10 million hectares (24.7 million acres) of land across Australia has burned since the bushfire season and several thousand homes have been destroyed.
Australian scientists claim at least one billion animals were killed in the recent bushfires.
"How can I be a vet if all the animals are gone" read one girl's placard in a Canberra protest.
Friday's events ignited controversy over the timing of the protests. Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said the rallies were timed inappropriately and would divert police resources.
"Common sense tells you that there are other times to make your point," he told a televised briefing. "I respect people's right to have a view, I tend to agree with a lot of the points that are being made — climate change is real — but there is a time and a place for everything and I just don't think a protest tonight was the appropriate thing."
Teacher Denise Lavell said she attended the protests in Sydney because she believed the pleas were only a government ploy to keep civilians from protesting. "Our country is burning, our planet is dying and we need to show up," she said.