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Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Page: 8495


Senator BOB BROWN (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (11:36): This is an historic day not just for this Senate and this parliament of this great nation but for seven billion people on a planet which faces great problems due to the impact of that human herd on the finite planet itself. What we are doing here today is legisla­ting—albeit with reserve—to hold back the great nemesis of climate change for the whole future of humanity and indeed of our millions of fellow species on this planet. What we are doing here today—

An incident having occurred in the gallery—

The CHAIRMAN: Order! Could I remind members of the public in the gallery that it is disorderly to interrupt debate by clapping and applause and to please desist.

Senator Chris Evans: Mr Chairman, I rise on a point of order. I think this debate will proceed better if constant interjections from the opposition were controlled a bit better. Senator Fierravanti-Wells has been screaming for the last five minutes. I ask that you ask for a bit more order and then I think the chamber will proceed in a more calm and orderly way.

Senator Heffernan: I rise on a point of order. On this most historic day, as some people see it, in Australia we are passing legislation that 90 per cent of the people in this parliament do not understand—and that is the truth.

The CHAIRMAN: Senator Heffernan, that is not a point of order. Before I call Senator Bob Brown, I remind all senators that it is disorderly to interject and that courtesy should be given to the speaker. Senator Brown, you have the call.

Senator BOB BROWN: I am particularly joyful that this great moment should be being shared by so many of the citizens of this country in the galleries here today. This is a democracy which is functioning. This is a democracy which is working in the interests not only of this generation but also of all Australian and global generations to come.

We are confronted not only to see how best we can line our pockets and take from the planet in our own time in a three-year cycle but also to go beyond that and ask ourselves whether people 50 or 500 years from now will thank us for what we are doing. And people 50 or 500 years from now will thank us for the passage of this legislation, with one caveat: they will know that this was timid, that it was short of the mark but that, nevertheless, in a divided parliament, it had a gallantry, a far-sighted­ness, integrity and honesty with future generations—which have the numbers in this chamber.

Senator Brandis interjecting

The CHAIRMAN: Order! Senator Brandis, you will have to withdraw that remark.

Senator Brandis interjecting

Senator Wong interjecting

The CHAIRMAN: Stand and withdraw, please, Senator Brandis.

Senator Brandis: I withdraw.

The CHAIRMAN: Senator Brown, you have the call.

Senator BOB BROWN: Twenty-seven years after the Hon. Barry Jones, then Minister for Science, first raised in this great parliament the spectre of climate change, here we are taking real action. It has been too slow and it has been too short of the vision that you must expect of great parliaments, but here today we are making up for that inaction.

I congratulate the Prime Minister of this country, Julia Gillard, for her integrity in following through against the huge condemnation that has been levelled at her. I congratulate the Minister for Climate Change—now in the gallery—who has shown such fortitude and integrity in this legislation coming through the House and now into this chamber, and I congratulate his fellow ministers. I congratulate the Independent members for New England and Lyne, who were part of the committee which has led to this outcome. And I congratulate my deputy leader, Christine Milne, Adam Bandt and our Greens team for carrying this historic vote through to conclusion in this parliament.

It is a great day for Australia. It is a great day for the Barrier Reef, for the Murray-Darling Basin, for Ningaloo, for Kakadu and for this nation's future, and it is a great day for this planet Earth, upon which we all depend and which gives us inspiration, which gives us joy, which gives us happiness and which today we are acknowledging we must return something to.

The CHAIRMAN: Prior to calling the next speaker, could I indicate to senators that the clocks have been readjusted to remove time from Senator Abetz and Senator Wong. Interjections will do this constantly, so please be respectful of speakers to come.