Climate activists are refusing to budge on a Melbourne protest planned for this Friday, despite state government and police pleas to call it off.
Two senior Victorian ministers have endorsed a police call for Uni Students for Climate Justice to abandon their protest on the state's next extreme fire-danger day.
The demonstration has been set down for Friday night in Melbourne's CBD in response to the bushfires that have blackened more than 1.2 million hectares of Victoria.
Authorities want organisers to call off the action, change the date or at least confine it to one spot.
Fire danger is rated as very high for most Victorian regions on Friday, extreme in the Northern Country region and severe in Mallee and Woomera.
But protest organisers are doubling down on their plans.
"There is huge support for a demonstration to put pressure on the government and fight for climate justice, as evidenced by the fact that more than 46,000 people have engaged with the Facebook event for the Melbourne demonstration alone," they said in a statement on Wednesday evening.
"They will be joined by protesters in large cities and small towns right across the country.
"This confected crisis about police resources is a distraction from the real question at hand, the climate crisis at hand and the urgent need for a political response."
Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said she was stunned to hear the protests were going ahead when fire conditions are expected to worsen and urged organisers to reconsider.
"This is a really reckless and selfish thing people are doing," she said.
"I don't want to see police having to pull people out of (fire-affected) communities to come in and manage a protest.
"There is a time for protests. It's not this Friday"
Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said the last thing emergency services need is people "deviated or distracted" by the well-meaning but poorly-timed protest.
"People are entitled to protest, absolutely, but the timing is wrong," she said.
"People are recovering, trying to recover, at the same time they're preparing for another spike event."
While police are duty-bound to attend the protest, Acting Assistant Commissioner Tim Hansen also said Friday is not a good time.
"This is a distraction for us. We see frontline staff returning from the fire ground ... fatigued that do need a break and this is now another operation we need to resource," he told reporters.
"We are frustrated by this protest timing and we are also frustrated by the lack of flexibility by the protest organisers to work with us in trying to find a more suitable time."
Australian Associated Press