House debates

Thursday, 27 February 2020


Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020, Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2019-2020; Second Reading

1:06 pm

Photo of Clare O'NeilClare O'Neil (Hotham, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Innovation, Technology and the Future of Work) Share this | Hansard source

I just want to say a grateful thanks to the previous speaker, the member for Herbert, for that contribution on this critically important matter. Sometimes when things go sour in this chamber—one of the things I find really upsetting is when people start pointing fingers and saying that one side of politics cares about a problem like domestic violence more than the other. I could really hear the emotion in the member for Herbert's voice. We share that emotion, and it's really important that we use this as a moment of change for this conversation. Hannah Clarke's murder absolutely captured the attention of the country, and that's an important thing. Women like Hannah are killed every week in Australia and we need to do better. And there are things we can do. Isn't it frustrating: there are things we can fix about this problem, and we have the power to do it, so I really do hope that there's a big change.

It's also great to hear that strength of resolve about these issues coming from men. Of course, men have always spoken out about this, but it's really critical because we have to make it clear that men can't behave this way. Men are really important carriers of that message, and we see that through some of the great work being done by White Ribbon ambassadors. I also want to thank the member for Herbert for acknowledging the member for Griffith, who I know has had a really important role representing her community in this discussion.

I'll turn now to Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020 that is before the House at the moment. It comes at a pretty critical time for the country. This summer has been a very difficult one for many Australians. The country has been burning. Since we finished sitting last December, we've had catastrophic fires which have destroyed hundreds of homes. Thirty-three people died and a billion animals perished in the flames around the country. We've had forests and ecologies destroyed that will never grow back and support the animals that they did before. And it has not just been the fires, of course. We've had floods. We've had torrential rains. We've had this horrible smoke haze that has come over some of the major cities. It certainly affected the city of Melbourne, where I come from.

For the first time we've had literally millions of Australians experience the beginnings of what inaction on climate change is going to look like. Now, it's really critical for us to understand that the sorts of things that happened over the summer are occurring when we've had a single degree of global warming caused by humans. What we are looking at, unless we take very significant action, is three to four degrees of global warming—some scientists are now saying we're looking at five degrees of global warming—by 2100. Every piece of expert evidence we have tells us that in that environment we are going to be seeing catastrophes happen all over the world—countries will literally be experiencing inundation constantly; potentially hundreds of millions of people in our region will literally be displaced by climate change and its impacts.

I've spent a lot of time talking to my community about this problem since we left here in December, and the consistent message that I'm getting from almost everyone I speak to is this: something has to change. We just cannot go on like this. We cannot go on like this with all the extraordinary damage that can be done to our beautiful country and not take the proper response so that we can go to these global forms around the world, which have the power to actually reshape this problem, and make a credible argument that more needs to be done.

So we've returned here for the New Year and Labor has done the responsible thing: we've made the commitment to get to zero net emissions by 2050. The reaction to this tells me one thing: it is a confirmation of how completely broken climate politics is in this country. This is not a radical proposal; this is not anywhere near a radical proposal; in fact, it is a no-brainer of Australian public policy. Yet we have hysteria, we have craziness, coming at us from the other side of the chamber.

I'm going to talk about some of the reasons why this is such an important thing for the country. To start with, if we go no further on this debate at all, every state in Australia has signed up to zero net emissions by 2050. How can this be a stupid thing for us to do if every state in Australia has already signed up to it?


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