House debates

Tuesday, 15 October 2019


Climate Change

5:05 pm

Photo of Zali SteggallZali Steggall (Warringah, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

I can't begin to say how disappointing it is to listen to the rhetoric we hear on this issue in this place. It is a serious question, and we should stop politicising it. It is a question of acknowledging we have a problem. It's not a question of saying, 'Your targets are too big or too costly and our targets are great and we're going to overreach them.' Repeating that doesn't make it fact and doesn't make it enough. If you accept the science that we have to reduce emissions, then you have to accept the science that is saying we are not doing enough, whatever targets you want to lay your hat to. As far as Paris went, it was a starting point. It was never meant to be the end point of where we have to get to if we want to have a meaningful impact on our carbon emissions and have some chance of keeping temperatures to a liveable and acceptable standard. Ideally that would be 1.5 degrees of warming, but we are on track for two to three degrees of warming. Who are we kidding here?

If the government accepts the science that we have to reduce emissions, then it must accept the science that says we are not doing enough. The starting point has to be to acknowledge that we have a problem. There are so many members in this House, especially on the government side, who went to their electorates during the last election saying, 'I believe in climate change and I believe we are going to take action.' Well, if the science is now telling you need to do more, then you have to adjust. It is not wrong or a failure to adjust your trajectory if you are being told it's not working or it's not enough. It isn't about pointing a finger or apportioning blame. It's about collectively coming up with a solution for the Australian people so that they actually have something to look forward to, so that our children have something to look forward to.

The Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action heard from a number of medical bodies yesterday. The presentations we got were sobering. It's frightening to understand the impact of a warming world—what heat can do to the body, how it will impact our young people and our older people, who will be vulnerable, the increase in deaths and heat stroke—really serious implications. I asked them, 'Did you write to our health minister and indicate concerns about the health impacts of climate change and a warming climate?' The response was: 'The health minister doesn't see a warming climate as a health issue.' It is. The doctors are telling us it is. It's a priority. We need to know in what ways we are equipped to deal with that scenario.

It's so important that everyone is accountable in this place. We've heard so much over the last 10 to 15 years on this issue. You actually all now need to be accountable. Stand up and be counted. Have a conscience vote, all of you, on both sides. Put your colours to the mast of where you stand on this issue. We saw it happen with marriage equality. We need to start to see it happening on climate change.


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