Senate debates

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change: Water

5:56 pm

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I have no problems with Senator Canavan contributing to the debate on this urgency motion, but I notice he studiously avoided even mentioning the Productivity Commission report—that's the agency he used to work for before he came to the Senate. I also note that he made no comment at all about climate change, but he has been very vocal on the national stage in the last week. He said recently: 'Under no circumstances would I support any 2050 climate plan. Under no circumstances would I support climate action.' He also said that regional towns in this country, including in the Murray-Darling Basin, face 'complete destruction' under a net zero emissions policy.

Let me tell you why these towns will face complete destruction in the next 100 years. It will be because of the National Party and their climate denial. It will be because of this government. It will be because of record heatwaves. It will be because of drought, fire, flood and pestilence. We will lose more farmers to suicide. That's because this party that purports to represent farming in rural and regional communities in this country has completely let them down. They are in this place playing culture war games and playing politics.

What policy have they put up to help farmers? What policy have they put up to tackle climate change? Mr Littleproud in the other place this week said: '2050. Yes, that might work for us, but I want to see a plan first.' This is the guy who has the agricultural portfolio. Why hasn't he developed a plan? What has he been doing for the last five years that he has been at the helm? It begs the question: what have any of them been doing? The government have sat on eight years of climate inaction. They have ripped up every policy that was in this place to act on climate change, and they've cost farmers big revenue.

It's not only the costs that farmers face of climate inaction—and ABARES recently said that farmers have lost more than $1 billion because of climate change inaction. We know that removing the carbon price and the Carbon Farming Initiative has cost farmers big time. They could be selling their excess abatement credits in the UK market and the EU market right now at $50 a tonne. Instead, they're facing down the barrel of having to pay $50 a tonne of carbon for their agricultural exports. That's the genius of this mob.

Senator Thorpe's contribution in here was a very moving, beautiful contribution. Everyone in this chamber has been here, what, nearly two generations on this planet. I will take it we're all connected to our land, in our own ways. Two generations—maybe the odd MP or senator in this place might be in their third generation. Imagine being part of a culture that was here for not 20 generations or even 200 but 2,000—2,000 generations living on this land. If we can't learn from our First Australians about how to live in harmony with this land then we are totally stuffed. What have we managed to do in just eight generations? That's how long white people have been in this land—eight generations. What have we managed to do? We have managed to completely stuff the Murray-Darling Basin—millions of dead fish just last year. How easily we forget! Millions of dead fish, and no-one was more angered and appalled and saddened than farmers when they saw that. What else have we managed to do? Half the Great Barrier Reef is dead and so on and so forth. I would need another 20 minutes to go through how badly we have managed country since we arrived here, invaded this country and colonised it. I'm really peeved that these guys continue to come in here and act as though they care about farmers when they don't.


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