Tuesday, 27 November 2018
School Strike 4 Climate Action
Pursuant to contingent notice and at the request of the Leader of the Australian Greens, I move:
That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Finance and the Public Service (Senator Cormann) to a question without notice asked by Senator Steele-John today relating to the School Strike 4 Climate Action.
Before we move to the debate, I remind senators of my advice previously: I will apply the strictest possible definition of relevance to the motion for suspension of standing orders in dealing with these matters in this session of the Senate.
The young people of Australia will, on Wednesday and on Friday and over the weekend, be walking out of their classrooms to take time from their educational venture to send a clear and undeniable message to Australian politics that the generation who will live for the longest with the impacts of climate change demand that their leaders act. It is for this reason—
Pause the clock. Senator Steele-John, I counselled senators before that this is not a debate on the motion that you are seeking to have the Senate deal with. This is a motion on why the Senate should deal with it and why standing orders should be suspended. You have been speaking for 44 seconds, and I have heard references to the substantive issue. I am not going to see the Senate's time in this section of debate become longer and longer. It is not reasonable for the great majority of senators. This is a debate on the suspension of standing orders, and I call you to that specific motion, not the motion you seek to have the Senate address.
Standing orders, Mr President, must be suspended so that the Senate is able to give the young people of Australia the answer which they demand to hear. The young people of this nation deserve to know whether their Senate is with them, and no amount of ignorance, no amount of intransigence from certain elements within the government should prevent this chamber from giving them that answer. I urge the chamber to support the suspension of standing orders to enable us to give them the answer which they so rightly deserve to have.
I, and also on behalf of Senator Faruqi, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) this Friday, 30 November 2018, students from the movement 'School Strike 4 Climate Action' will hold a national school strike, and
(ii) young people will live with the effects of climate change for the longest time and that, therefore, their voices and their concerns must be heard in the debate;
(b) commends all students across Australia for their commitment to action on climate change; and
(c) calls on the Federal Government to put in place a national climate and energy policy.
The Australian government is committed to taking action on climate change through our comprehensive suite of policies. The government welcomes the engagement of young people in the matters of national and global interest; however, we believe the No. 1 priority is for students to attend school and receive a quality education.
It's terrific that young people want to get active on the issues that matter to them. Young people want to see the government take serious action on climate change. We share their strong feelings. We don't want to see students missing out on schoolwork. There are plenty of opportunities for young people to campaign for climate action outside of school time, including on school holidays and weekends, and we would be the first to support them. The Labor Party is the only party of government committed to action on climate change, with a commitment to 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and an energy policy that delivers certainty for industry, lowers power prices and ensures more reliability.