Thursday, 18 March 2021
I rise today to talk about the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association's climate change forum, which I participated in via video link on Monday and Tuesday nights this week. The forum saw parliamentarians from around the Commonwealth meet, share ideas and offer solidarity and support in the fight against climate change and the vested interests that prevent meaningful action. I was also pleased to see my colleagues Peter Khalil, the member for Wills, Zali Steggall, the member for Warringah, Helen Haines, the member for Indi, Katie Allen, the member for Higgins, and Senator Janet Rice participating in the forum, as well as members of state and territory legislatures from around the country. Australians take the issue of climate change very seriously and, despite having a federal government that continues to embarrass us on the international stage, we can at least say that they have representatives in this place who do care and will stand up, here in this place, in these forums, to represent their views and fight for the action we need.
I want to briefly share some of the inspirational stories I was lucky enough to hear at this forum. Andleeb Abbas, a member of Pakistan's parliament, spoke about her country's incredible climate change mitigation efforts, which led them to reach their 2030 climate change targets last year. One of the initiatives taken by the Pakistani government was their 10 Billion Tree Tsunami policy. The government have engaged the community. They have involved households and they have employed people who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic to plant 10 billion trees around the country. That is an outstanding achievement and something that Australia might try to emulate. Andleeb also spoke about how governments often offer lip service to climate action, but then fall short on the follow-through, and she's spot on about our government here. The Morrison government love to brag about meeting and beating our international commitments. However, they only get there by using dodgy accounting tricks, while refusing to offer any real plans to lower our emissions. At our current pace, it would take us 146 years to get to net zero emissions. That is shameful. It is incumbent on us as parliamentarians in this place, in this chamber and in our committees, and also in our communities, to hold this government's climate neglect to account. I look forward to continuing to engage when this forum meets again next week.
In the lead-up to the forum, I put a call out to my constituents to let me know what their climate action priorities are. The response was overwhelming and demonstrated once again how passionate Canberrans are about real action and how concerned they are about the lack of progress from the Morrison government. I want to share some of the ideas that my constituents sent to me in the lead-up to this forum. Sarah from Bruce said, 'We need to promote a green economic recovery from COVID by investing in initiatives that are positive for the environment.' This seems so obvious, and this idea has been raised with me by several of my constituents. Why on earth doesn't the Morrison government see this recovery as an environmental opportunity? Tenaya from O'Connor reminded me of the importance of embracing First Nations led environment and sustainability initiatives and ensuring that minority groups are proactively supported through any climate transition. Chris from Kingston said we need to more rapidly move away from using fossil fuels and said, 'Remember that the critics claimed that it would take up to four years to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. It ended up taking less than nine months. Surely we can do it again with climate change. Again, we have listened to the science on the pandemic. We should be listening to the science on climate change.'
Canberrans once again reiterated their calls for strong action and their fear that we're not responding to the climate crisis as best as we should be. They put forward strategies for convincing their fellow Australians to vote for action and they outlined what they are doing, day in and day out, to make sure they are taking responsibility for their own emissions in the face of a federal government that is not acting in their interest. I am proud to represent these people here in the parliament and in any international forum I have the opportunity to attend. The climate crisis is real. The Morrison government's action to combat the climate crisis is pathetic. I will continue to bring the voices of Canberrans who want climate action into this place at any opportunity, and will work to ensure that a Labor government is elected at the next election. The fact is that the Labor governments are the only governments that have ever taken action on climate change. We're the only party of government that will deliver the action we need to combat this crisis. The fact is that Labor governments are the only governments that have ever genuinely cared for Australia's natural environment.