Senate debates

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change: Water

5:47 pm

Photo of Lidia ThorpeLidia Thorpe (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I apologise and I take that back, but it is very close to my heart that a bunch of white people are talking about owning water and water rights and the monetary value to water. It's absolutely disgusting. It's disrespectful. No-one has mentioned First Nations people except for the Labor Party over here, and I respect that. Water, to us, is life. It is life. For our people, water is our songlines. There are stories to every waterway in this whole country. There is a story about why they meet up to one another and how important they are to the people who have been on that part of the country for thousands and thousands of generations. I'm not going to sit here and listen to a bunch of white people telling me that they know more about the water in this country than the people who have been here for thousands of generations. Water is not about money. Water is about life, your children's lives, and it is fundamental to our people, to our survival. This continent has been our peoples' ancestral home for over 70,000 years. Our peoples' relationship with the inland waters, rivers, wetlands, sea, islands, reefs, sand bars and seagrass beds is part of who we are. This is why Article 25—you Nationals over there might want to listen to this, because you could put it in some of your writings—of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People says:

Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.

Who's looking after our water for future generations? Certainly not this lot. For all of us but particularly for our people, water is far too important to be left in the hands of the climate-denying Nationals, who can only think of water as a resource to be exploited for greed and total mismanagement.

The coal-loving minister for resources, Keith Pitt, himself dismissed the climate warning issued by the United Nations by saying, 'Grand statements are quite simple to make.' He's so triggered by anyone calling him a climate denier—and we see the other reactions today—that he even requested a parliamentary inquiry into lenders and insurers blacklisting companies linked to coal and gas producers. You have to wonder who the Nationals are actually for these days, because they're not even looking after the farmers. Farmers and traditional owners are joining forces. They know that not even the Nationals are protecting their interests; they're better off working with us. Farmers already know that climate change is costing them. Water is too important to be in the hands of climate deniers who have no respect for or understanding of water. They should never be in a position to make decisions on such a sacred resource. That will do.


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