Senate debates

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Climate Change

4:01 pm

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Finance (Senator Birmingham) to a question without notice she asked today relating to school chaplains.

My question to Senator Birmingham was in relation to the reports that there is a new push on inside the government to fund chaplains to deal with the concerns of the young people of Australia about climate change, sending a chaplain into every school to allay their fears in relation to the state of the planet, the environment and our climate. This is bonkers. This is crazy. You couldn't make this stuff up. Rather than dealing with the reality of climate change and what we have to do, which is reduce pollution, we've got Prime Minister Scott Morrison and members of his government wanting to send in the chaplains to tell the kids it's all going to be okay. The last thing we need is to send more chaplains into schools at a time when young people actually need the government to show leadership. The only people robbing young people of a future and hope in this country are the members of the Prime Minister's government, who continue to delay and deny the action needed on climate change, and their mates in the fossil fuel industry, who continue to want to pollute, putting their megaprofits ahead of the future of our planet and the future of our young people.

It is just unthinkable that this government, rather than doing what it is required to do, wants to blame young people's anxiety and concern about the state of our environment on climate activists and scientists. Is there anything that this Prime Minister won't try and shift the blame to? The Prime Minister is going to be sending delegates to Glasgow ahead of the world climate summit in November. How is this going to go down there? Are we going to send the chaplains to represent Australia at the global summit to allay the fears of the rest of the world's leaders and scientists that we have indeed hit code red when it comes to our climate? We need science-led solutions, not religious chaplains in schools.

Let me say that I know that young people in this country are finding it really tough. They are worried about their future. They are anxious about the state of the environment. They are worried about the stresses and the threats of COVID-19. The last thing we should be doing is palming off this concern to religious chaplains in schools. If we want to look after the mental health of our young people, we should be putting in qualified counsellors and social workers—people who will be there to listen to our young people, not to push religion and ideology.

This is just crazy stuff. You didn't think this government could get much worse! The Prime Minister can have whatever beliefs he wants, but to pretend that the genuine concerns of Australia's young people and children in relation to climate change are simply alarmist and are not based in reality is absolutely negligent. We need a government that is prepared to take climate change seriously—to reduce pollution, to commit to a proper target for 2030 at the global summit and to listen to the concerns of children and young people, as legitimate things to act on. The only things chaplains in schools should be doing is telling the young people of Australia to pray that their parents vote this mob out.

Question agreed to.


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