The man who is willing to die on the Parliament House lawns.

Gregory Andrews is a former high-level Australian diplomat and Threatened Species Commissioner.

He is married, and a father of two teenagers. 

He is an Aboriginal Australian.

And he is also currently in the midst of a hunger strike on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra – all in the name of climate change.

Watch Gregory Andrews speaks about his strike. Post continues below.

Video via Sky News.

For decades, Andrews worked with the government, including being an ambassador to West Africa. It was from this position that Andrews saw first-hand the lack of tangible action being taken by the Australian Government to address climate change. And it began to seriously impact his wellbeing.

"I actually got climate grief, or ecological grief, at the beginning of this year. I found it really devastating to see what science was showing us about the impact and the looming tipping points. To see Tanya Plibersek approve her fourth coal mine since she'd been the Minister for the Environment really hurt," he tells Mamamia.

"Also, as a person of shared Aboriginal and European descent, I feel a real attachment to the bush and our animals, so seeing the impact was heartbreaking too."


Andrews says his wife was worried he was "doom scrolling" on climate change sites too much. But for Andrews, he feels it was the cognitive dissonance from the wider public about the environment and climate that really affected him.

He also feels frustrated with the current government, saying he feels as though Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has not done what he promised to do during the recent Federal election campaign.

With his climate despair building, Andrews has, this year, moved into activism. Initially, he thought about chaining or gluing himself to something. Although he respects people who do this, he knows it makes "many Australians cross to have their everyday life interrupted".

The next idea was a hunger strike. And the idea stuck.

Andrews told his loved ones about his plans, and they said they would support him. 

"My wife and children, who are 16 and 18, have been lovely. And I told my mother as well, and she was supportive too – she knew how much this cause means to me. She sent me a really lovely message saying how proud she was of me, and that made me cry. So I decided to do it after three months of planning."

His GP, however, didn't support the decision, particularly because Andrews has an enlarged heart due to a heart murmur condition. Instead, Andrews organised for someone else to monitor his vitals.

Over a week ago, Andrews began his strike, vowing not to quit until Australia has a timeline to stop exporting fossil fuels. He says the first three days of the fast were the hardest.


When I speak to Andrews, it has been 10 days since he has last eaten.

He's still drinking water, and the occasional pinch of salt to keep his electrolytes up. Andrews still has good mental clarity. He's just slower in his movements and speech, which is to be expected.


Each day he sits out the front of Parliament House with his sign that tells people he is on a hunger strike. He has a tent to keep the sun off him, as well as a chair. He also has an umbrella handy for the days it rains.

Since it is illegal to camp outside Parliament House, Andrews is making sure his protest is all above board. One of his teens drives him home each night, where Andrews weighs himself and then gets into bed immediately. His wife then drives him back to Parliament House around 6am each day.

Although his strike is making a lot of noise online and in the media – hundreds of people so far going to visit him, including politicians – the Federal Government has remained rather quiet on it.

But Andrews says he remains determined. No matter the cost.

"I'm acutely aware that I need to save my energy. Because I'm not confident that the government's going to make any realistic commitments. So I'm determined to do it for as long as I can."

On day seven of the strike, Andrews was interviewed on Sky News by Andrew Bolt, a conservative political commentator. Bolt is also someone who does not believe in climate change. With this context in mind, the interview was rather heated, and culminated in Andrews ending the interview.

It occurred after Bolt suggested Andrews was a "bad parent".

"When Andrew Bolt went after my kids, who want a safe climate future and support me 110 per cent, I felt deeply disrespected. I don't tolerate abuse, so I said goodbye," he explains.


"I feel really sorry for climate change denialists. I wish climate change wasn't true. But it's science and facts. If you trawl through my social media right now, you'll see a lot of people are putting hate on to me."

Many of the messages say to Andrews, "I hope you die".

Whether it's the lack of capacity to care right now, or a disregard for people's opinions that are "fuelled by hate", Andrews says he isn't taking it to heart.


Ultimately though, he says most people have been friendly and nice. He also commends the federal police, who have been good at looking after him during the strike, particularly as the days go on and the risks heighten.

"They're aware they might need to intervene on short notice, for example, if I have a heart attack. Yesterday I nearly passed out cause it was quite hot with the sun. Now they've let me move to an area on the lawn that is under a tree."

The strike is obviously going to take a toll on Andrews' body as well. He has lost weight. Right now he feels strong and determined. But he is fully aware of the risks. 

"In terms of how long I am willing to do it – I'm willing to do it for as long as it takes. While I value my life, and I don't want to die already, climate change is already killing thousands of people. I want a safe and prosperous future for our kids. So yes, I am willing to do this, no matter the cost."

As for what Andrews wants the public and politicians to know, it's this:

"I'm not going to stop until Anthony Albanese shows the courage and bravery he did, like he did on the Voice, to take strong and decisive action to save Australia's future."

As well as doing this strike, Gregory Andrews has also created a petition that he is hoping to get thousands of signatures on. If you would like to sign the petition, you can do so here.

Feature Image: Instagram @lyrebirddream.