Senate debates

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Statements by Senators

Australian Capital Territory: Youth Voice In Parliament Week

1:51 pm

Photo of David PocockDavid Pocock (ACT, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

Today it is my great privilege as part of the Raise our Voice initiative to read to the Senate a speech by Grace Heffernan, a young person here in the ACT. Grace says:

I was raised on Gadigal country and now study on Ngunnawal and Ngambri lands. Author Charlie Mackesy said, 'One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things.' As climate change intensifies, our freedom to change our relationship with earth is at risk, and I need you to protect it.

This parliament is the very last to write the story of the standard that we accepted when we had the chance to change—to change the way Australia consumes, mitigates and legislates. There has never been a greater policy window than the one opened by the federal election to transform energy, industry and our standard of life. A phenomenon about climate change is that, despite the way humans have reacted to past existential crises with vigour and innovation, we have chosen to bury our heads in the sand. This reaction astonishes and alarms me.

So I ask this new government to reframe climate change not as something to ignore but as a tremendous opportunity, to remember how adaptive we are and how the human spirit makes hope in and out of despair, and for you as politicians to grace us with a legacy Australia can be grateful for. React well.

These words from Grace speak for themselves. Many young people across the country, like Grace, are asking people in this place to make decisions that will secure their future, that will deal with the big challenges we face and turn them into opportunities for us all.

That is our opportunity, and I sincerely hope that the Senate will take that opportunity.