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Tuesday, 30 July 2019
Page: 1193


Senator DI NATALE (VictoriaLeader of the Australian Greens) (19:34): I rise to use my privileged place as Leader of the Australian Greens and a senator in this national parliament to outline why Australia must join the 888 jurisdictions around the world to declare that our nation is in a climate emergency. It's not just about future generations anymore. The layers of change unfolding upon our natural world is happening so much quicker than what was imagined even a year ago. It's not just about the rapid extinction of species or about people living in distant Bangladesh flood plains or shrinking Pacific islands; this is about the here and the now. It's about us. It's about protecting our lives. It's about protecting our communities, our families and all those who we care about.

We are seeing records breaking every week in all corners of the world. These impacts we're witnessing don't even include the coal, oil and gas that are being dug up right now and burned at this very moment. We will pay for that down the track. Never in human history has the world produced more greenhouse, trapping, gases than we have right now. Australia's pollution has never been higher than it is today. If I'm being honest, it scares the hell out of me, and it scares the hell out of a lot of people who are paying attention to the scientists—those people who have our best interests at heart.

We humans have found ourselves in crisis. We've found ourselves in situations of emergency where everything else has dropped away and we've had a single-minded focus on keeping ourselves, our loved ones and even strangers out of danger. This is what we have to do right now to prevent the breakdown of ecosystems, the collapse of entire towns and cities and the disappearance of many simple, everyday things that we cherish. From our rivers that carry water into the regions to our pristine coastlines to our public hospitals, our wine regions and even our city sewage systems, a climate breakdown will fundamentally alter all of it. We will only save ourselves from this emergency with a single-minded focus. What does that mean? That means we can't open one more coalmine. We can't drill one more gas well. If we do that, we burst open our carbon budget. That means saying no to the Adani coalmine in Queensland and no to Santos and Jemena in the Northern Territory's Beetaloo Basin. That means saying no to Equinor drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight, South Australia.

But a climate emergency also means saying yes. It means saying yes to ensuring that people are looked after and that not a single person employed in the coal industry will be left in the pits, unemployed. It means saying yes to long-term planning so that not one coal worker is thrown into poorly paid, insecure work. It means saying yes to unleashing hundreds of thousands of new jobs in industries right across the country, particularly in regional areas. They could be jobs in construction, engineering, processing, manufacturing, research, innovation, smart transport, carbon farming, forest and mine restoration and clean export industries; the list goes on and on and on. We have so much to gain if we mobilise with the urgency that this emergency demands of us, and we have everything to lose if we don't.

We humans have an amazing capacity to adapt. We can stop this spiralling disaster in its tracks. That's why Adam Bandt is committed to introducing a declaration into the House of government this year. Our members, right across the country, have committed to mobilising the community to support such a declaration. Tonight I am calling on all Australians who care about this country, who care about this fragile blue planet we all inhabit, who care about their families—their children and their loved ones—to join us in this campaign. Collect signatures. Pass resolutions in your workplace or your local community group. Lobby your local council. Pressure your local MP to support the declaration of a climate emergency. It's only people power that will change the world. In the coming months, we can create a wave of pressure that every single politician in this place will not be able to ignore.