Senate debates

Tuesday, 13 February 2018


Batman By-Election

7:30 pm

Photo of Richard Di NataleRichard Di Natale (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to speak about an important election that will shape up in a few weeks' time, the Batman by-election, which is so much more than a choice between the Greens and Labor. For the people of Batman, which is one of the most progressive places in the country, this election shapes up as a choice about the kind of country and the kind of community that we want to live in. It is a community that fights climate change by stopping the Adani mine, by banning new coalmines and making the transition to clean renewable energy. It is a community that shows compassion towards people seeking asylum and closes offshore detention centres. It is a community that stands up to racism and bigotry, to ensure that we protect that very precious Australian asset, multiculturalism. It is a community that solves the affordable housing crisis and tackles inequality by getting rents under control and by closing those tax loopholes that lock out first home buyers and is one where we invest in public housing. And, of course, it is a community that wants to get big corporate interests out of politics and restore integrity to our political system. People know, right around the country, that these are values that we Greens will always stand up for. We will do it every time with every vote, not just when it's politically expedient.

Of course, no issue contrasts the Greens to the Labor and Liberal parties more than that of the Adani coalmine. The Batman by-election became more likely after the eight months of the citizenship debacle—one that saw Bill Shorten and his colleagues go through dozens of shades of equivocation, dodging and hedging on this issue. It's true that the opposition leader may indeed be preparing to say the words that he should have uttered many years ago, when this massive, polluting mine first came into the national spotlight. He may be preparing to say that Labor does oppose it. But let's be clear: this comes as a result of the huge Greens win in the Northcote by-election, a swing to the Greens in the Queensland election and a nationwide campaign from members of the community—ordinary mums, dads, children and grandparents—all working hard to stop that Adani mine. It is a movement that has built and has now successfully engaged Australians right across the country, and it looks like it may drag Labor kicking and screaming from supporting the mine to casting doubts on it and potentially, on the eve of a by-election, to rejecting it.

This will be not just a win for Greens but a win for all of those activists right across the country, for those ordinary people who have campaigned so hard to make this a reality. Most importantly, if it does happen, it may well be a win for those future generations that follow. We will certainly welcome Labor in shifting and finally joining the campaign to stop Adani.

But let's remember: this is not just about Adani. This is about the future of coal in our energy mix. It is indeed about the very future of our planet and everything that depends upon it. We need a rapid transition away from coal to renewables and battery storage. We need a plan for coal workers and their communities. Of course, we Greens have that plan.

It is an indictment on Labor that they've taken so long to speak up. Of course, they'll argue that it's because of the company that proposes to build this mine and its legacy of corruption and environmental damage. But what they won't argue is the central truth here—that, if this mine or other mines go ahead in the Galilee Basin, we stand to lose everything that's precious to us.

If we Greens can achieve this much already through our work with the community in supporting them, imagine what we can achieve by electing more Greens to this place. Whether it's the Adani mine, whether it's housing affordability, whether it's a banking royal commission or a national anti-corruption watchdog, we are leading the national debate. We are out in front. And it is now only a matter of time before we see Labor follow us in that transition that is so important for the future of our nation. (Time expired)