REAL AUSTRALIA

Extinction Rebellion and other grisly ghouls running scared in blood-red Crocs

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When Halloween comes early in the nation's capital expect a fright or two. Photo: Shutterstock

When Halloween comes early in the nation's capital expect a fright or two. Photo: Shutterstock

Grisly ghouls, zombies and other assorted blood-sucking demons are expected to converge on Your Nation's Capital this weekend.

Before you ask, no, federal parliament is not sitting this week, so we're not talking about a party-room meeting of The Greens.

In fact we're talking about Canberra's new Halloween-themed "Running Scared" night-time fun run.

More in a moment on the "five kilometre course of terror" around the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, complete with "blood-curdling characters to scare the hell out of you".

Climate action protesters stage a "die-in" while blocking traffic on Canberra's Commonwealth Avenue on Monday. Picture: Peter Brewer

Climate action protesters stage a "die-in" while blocking traffic on Canberra's Commonwealth Avenue on Monday. Picture: Peter Brewer

Actually, tourists looking to tip-toe through the tulips at the capital's annual Floriade flower show on Monday could have been forgiven for thinking the zombie marathon had started early.

Orchestrated by environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion, an estimated 500 climate action protesters stopped traffic for an hour on Commonwealth Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares leading to Parliament House, with many lying down on the road near the entrance to Floriade in a display apparently known as a "die-in".

The march was led by "Red Rebels", red-robed performers whose costumes are supposed to signify either the blood of children who will die as a result of climate inaction, or (according to the Tasmanian franchise) the blood of species already made extinct as a result of climate change.

Classy.

At least one of the Canberra troupe appeared to be wearing red Crocs.

*Shudder*

In Sydney, police arrested 30 protesters as street marches were synchronised in major cities on the first day of Extinction Rebellion's threatened week of "massive disruption" across the nation.

The global group, which uses a stylised hourglass as its logo, says it is copying the civil disobedience tactics of protesters in Hong Kong - including using bike locks to chain themselves to steel barricades - to disrupt cities worldwide and increase pressure on governments to declare a "climate emergency" and reduce carbon emissions.

The Extinction Rebellion's Red Rebels performers lead the Canberra street march. Picture: Peter Brewer

The Extinction Rebellion's Red Rebels performers lead the Canberra street march. Picture: Peter Brewer

Former Greens senator Scott Ludlam was among those in Sydney led away by police, who said protestors allegedly committed a range of offences, such as obstructing traffic and disobeying reasonable direction.

A day earlier senior Nationals minister David Littleproud had urged Australians to respect each other, following Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton's call to punish activists by cutting off their welfare payments.

"Quite candidly, I get everyone wants a cause," Mr Littleproud told the ABC. "Everyone's got to be angry these days. But for Christ's sake, respect your fellow Australian."

Between mass "die-ins", Dutton's sledgehammer rhetoric, police arrests and interpretive dancers in Crocs dressed as the blood of future dead children, is it any wonder psychiatrist Charles Le Feuvre says he conducts workshops for "people with climate anxiety and grief"?

Part of a group of mental health professionals called Psychology for a Safe Climate, Le Feuvre has written an opinion article in the wake of Greta Thunberg's speech at the UN Climate Summit to mark World Mental Health Day on Wednesday.

While insisting that he "couldn't agree more" with Prime Minister Scott Morrison that children deserve to feel positive about their future and that raising their anxiety about climate change is bad for their mental health, he says "the kids are right to be anxious".

"The only appropriate cure here is actual climate action and emissions reductions," Le Feuvre writes.

I'm not quite sure how that prescription helps a child to understand drought, democracy and dancers dressed in red stopping traffic.

It certainly would not have convinced the many furious and/or flippant Facebook users in Canberra, some of whom asked why Monday's demonstrators weren't protesting instead against the NRL after the Raiders controversially lost the grand final to the Sydney Roosters.

"I would never be a referee," outgoing Australian Rugby League chairman Peter Beattie said of the match official's blunder. "There are a lot of things you do in life that make you unpopular - being in government's one - but there's one thing I wouldn't be and that is a referee."

Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffith star in the new ABC political drama, Total Control. Picture: John Platt

Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffith star in the new ABC political drama, Total Control. Picture: John Platt

There's one thing actress Deborah Mailman wouldn't want to be and that is a politician.

In the new ABC drama series, Total Control, which starts this Sunday, Mailman plays a rookie politician cynically recruited from outback Queensland by a scheming prime minister (played by Rachel Griffiths).

The Offspring and Secret Life of Us star didn't bother to research her first lead TV role as a plain-speaking senator by talking to any actual Canberra pollies. Mailman told Canberra Times journalist Amy Martin that she preferred to keep it real.

"As an audience and a general public, we want to have some sort of honesty and realness when we hear our politicians talk," she said. "Often you hear the PR wording around any issue really, and often I just want to say 'Can you just speak straight? Speak clearly, speak the truth, speak honestly'."

As for "Running Scared", Saturday night's horror-themed run around Lake Burley Griffin, organisers say some of "scare stations" on the course will feature horror characters such as Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street and Pennywise the clown from It.

"Some of the characters are designed to stop and take a selfie with, and others are designed to chase after you," organiser Paul Kind said.

We've checked again, and can confirm that it's definitely not a Canberra sitting week for federal MPs.

And no word if the Dr Frank N. Credits from the Rocky Horror Labor Show will make a cameo.

James Joyce

Executive Editor, Australian Community Media

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