Senate debates

Tuesday, 4 December 2018


Climate Change

8:39 pm

Photo of Nick McKimNick McKim (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Last week, thousands of students around Australia walked out of their classrooms and went on strike to demand strong action on climate change. They took this extraordinary step because of the collective failure that we all share in this place because we have collectively refused to address, or even take seriously the existential threat that we face: climate breakdown and an extinction crisis—two sides of the same terrible coin. To all of those kids right around the country who walked out of their schools and engaged in this fantastic action, I want to say thank you. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your passion. Thank you for your activism. Thank you for your leadership. History is made by people who show up, and you certainly showed up last week. Please keep showing up. Stay strong, get involved and keep organising. Your time will come.

We had some in this place who thought it would be funny to demean them. Members of the Liberal Party had the gall to pour scorn on these kids for rightly calling out the repeated failures of the LNP in this parliament. These are the same jokers who basically shut down the parliament a few months ago because they were too busy brawling over their own leadership, these self-obsessed fossil fools. We had Senator Canavan, who appears to think that he actually works for Adani, telling the students that they were destined for the dole queues. We had Senator McGrath posting a photo of an underage girl on Facebook to laugh at the sign she was holding and asking his followers to mock her, which some of them did in the most vulgar terms imaginable. We even had caretaker Prime Minister Scott Morrison telling them to basically sit down and shut up. For those people to sit around in their air-conditioned taxpayer offices having a go at kids for daring to raise a word in protest just shows that they are gutless as well as clueless.

These kids, who wanted to protest against the ruin that many in the LNP want to make of their future, actually showed up the LNP as a pathetic rabble in addressing climate breakdown. I tell you what, you're extremely lucky they were only carrying signs, because there are plenty of young people who actually want to burn this place to the ground—and who could blame them? There is a climate emergency going on right now. Half of Queensland was burning, and all we got from the government was self-congratulations and support for one of the world's biggest coalmines. Well, I tell you what, by these kids showing up and demanding action, they showed up those in this place who remain in denial. And in response they were pilloried by some in the LNP.

The Prime Minister should have said: 'Good on you, kids. We are listening to you as you stand up for your future. We are sorry that it has taken us so long to get on board with strong action to address the breakdown of the ecosystem, which ultimately supports the lives of every person on this planet and all of those foundations that we like to call our civilisation.' I want to say to these kids that I am sorry for my generation, probably the first generation of politicians in the world that has all the information at its hands to act and yet, collectively, is failing the future and failing these kids. I am sorry about that, even though there are some in this place who are trying to drive and demand stronger action to address the breakdown of our climate. Their time will come, and they will do a better job than those of us who sit in this place collectively today. I very much look forward to that day.