There's toil and trouble in Canberra's bubble of arsonists and lunatics

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by ACM executive editor James Joyce.

So, apparently, now is not the right time to debate climate change.

And yet now is apparently an OK time for politicians to call each other a bunch of arsonists or inner-city raving lunatics.

Yep, the climate obviously ain't changing inside the "bubble" of partisan politics that is Parliament House in Canberra - no matter what sermonising footballers may say to divert them from their incessant squabbles.

How cartoonist Pat Campbell saw the "now is not the right time to discuss climate change" message

How cartoonist Pat Campbell saw the "now is not the right time to discuss climate change" message

Of course, around the drought- and fire-ravaged regions served by Australian Community Media's network of newspapers and websites, sensible folks have been lining up to debate both the issue and the need to debate the issue.

And, what do you know, for the most part they've done it respectfully, and without resorting to hysterical name-calling.

In northern NSW, Badja Sparks has been part of the Wytaliba community near Glen Innes for 40 years.

He's written for the Glen Innes Examiner of the flames that claimed two lives: "We had a bushfire two months ago that burned most of our property. It didn't matter. It burned again. This is climate changed".

Read Badja's full opinion article here

Badja Sparks writes of the fires that devastated the Wytaliba community near Glen Innes, NSW.

Badja Sparks writes of the fires that devastated the Wytaliba community near Glen Innes, NSW.

On the far south coast of NSW, Janet Reynolds, who lost her home to bushfire last August, has written a message of hope to those who have lost something - perhaps everything - in the most recent fires.

Thesedays, Janet is a member of a group called Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action: "I know it doesn't feel like it now, but things will get better. The phantom burning sensation I felt on the back of my hands after the fires has disappeared, and I can finally think about all I lost without feeling utterly devastated".

Read Janet's wise words in the Bega District Newshere

In response to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack's name-calling last week, Dr David Shearman, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Adelaide, wrote an open letter to the National Party leader: "This is a public health issue, and as with all health issues my profession has a duty to speak out fearlessly on behalf of individuals and communities who suffer".

Read Dr Shearman's full letter in The Canberra Timeshere

Thank goodness for sensible, reasoned, reasonable words from sensible people - thought leadership is when it is needed most.

If you want to see a particularly fine example of leadership when supposed leaders don't seem to be, you know, leading, check out the new exhibition Truth, Power and a Free Press at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House in Canberra.

The exhibition explores the role of the media in Australian democracy and comes as news organisations like Australian Community Media campaign for Your Right to Know.

The display features the award-winning work of the Newcastle Herald's Joanne McCarthy. She's one of 12 journalists who tell the stories behind their agenda-setting stories and why journalism matters.

Joanne has lent a hand-written letter sent to her in 2007 and signed only "Norman". It takes pride of place alongside the now-famous thank you letter Julia Gillard sent McCarthy in her final act as PM after announcing a royal commission into child abuse.

The note from "Norman" told of a school friend abused in the 1950s.

"I've looked at that letter so many times over the years, the writing is shaky in places," Joanne says. "There are so many like that. No addresses. They don't want compensation. They want someone to bear witness."

Read more about the exhibition here

As Herald editor Heath Harrison told his subscribers at the weekend, "Truth, Power and a Free Press" is "a great exhibition in a beautiful building".

See, there is some sensible stuff happening in Your Nation's Capital.

James Joyce

Executive Editor, Australian Community Media