Senate debates

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Climate Change

3:28 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 Agriculture (Senator McKenzie) to a question without notice asked by the Leader of the Australian Greens (Senator Di Natale) today relating to climate change.

We've seen the government put up the white flag today on the Murray-Darling Basin. We've got fires raging across Queensland and New South Wales. And the minister who is responsible for water, natural disasters and drought, Minister Littleproud, can't even tell us whether he accepts the science on climate change. So, while fires are raging, fireys are telling us that we've got to get serious about the dangers of global warming and climate change. We've got farmers crying out; they know that the climate is in dire straits. The scientists know that we have to take action to reduce carbon pollution and to get our house in order when it comes to climate change. But the one minister responsible for this has told the Australian people that he doesn't know if climate change is man-made. How on earth can this bloke continue to be the minister responsible for water and the minister responsible for the government's policy and response on drought and natural disasters when he doesn't even accept the basic science? It is an absolute joke that this government has David Littleproud as the minister in charge of these issues.

But it's not just the water minister; today we see the environment minister, Sussan Ley, putting up the white flag on our nation's biggest river system, the Murray-Darling Basin. After years of this government, the coalition government, mismanaging the Murray-Darling Basin and saying there was nothing going wrong—'Nothing to see here; don't worry about it, folks'—we now hear that the water minister doesn't even believe in climate change, let alone the impact of drought, and the environment minister says, 'There's not enough water to look after the river system and people are just going to have to go without.' This is an absolute catastrophe, and it has happened on the watch of the coalition government and the water portfolio being managed by the National Party.

Today the environment minister is saying that, because there's no water, we won't be able to do the things the river needs in order to keep it flowing and keep it alive. She's softening the public up for mass fish kills this summer. She's telling family farmers downstream, 'Sorry, but there's not enough water to go around.' Meanwhile, their big corporate mates have been taking out too much water, being too greedy, and now there's none left for anybody else—none left for the environment, none left for the fish and none left for the small farmers. Year after year, farmers, environmentalists and those of us here in the Senate have been standing up and calling out for action to save the Murray-Darling in the face of a drying climate and climate change, and this government has failed to act. They did worse than that; they deny the science of climate change, they stick their head in the sand over that, and they turn a blind eye to the corruption and greed that has been going on throughout the basin. The National Party have been trying to dupe regional and rural Australia for far too long—heads in the sand, climate change denialists and looking after their big mates.

Well, I tell you what, Mr President: the chooks are coming home to roost. Fires are raging across northern Australia, the river is in crisis and farmers know that their back is against the wall. And whose fault is it? It is the fault of this government, with its ignorance, its climate change scepticism and denial and its absolute contempt for everyday Australians who want proper action on saving our environment and making sure there is a river here for future generations. It will be on the head of this government and every single one of its water ministers—whether that has been Barnaby Joyce or David Littleproud—and its environment ministers, Sussan Ley, Frydenberg and, of course, Melissa Price. They have done nothing. The death of the river is on their watch, and they ought to take responsibility. (Time expired)

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

I remind senators to refer to members of this place and the other place by their proper titles or at least their proper names.

Question agreed to.