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Monday, 23 May 2011
Page: 4167

Ms ROWLAND (Greenway) (10:52): I rise to mention two local examples in my electorate of Greenway that demonstrate the real concern among our young people who want this parliament to take action on climate change. I received a letter signed by a class of year 5 students from Vardy's Road Public School in Kings Langley. These students wrote to me as their local member because they were alarmed about the impact of climate change and they wanted to know what I was doing about it. On 3 May I met with the students and their teacher, Mrs Lyn Oppliger. They explained to me how they understood the Earth was changing, how pollution was adversely contributing to that change and how there is a small window of opportunity that exists to take action.

I was very affected by some of their comments that reflected both their innocence and their frustration. As one child said to me, 'I'm just a kid. I can't vote and I can't make decisions.' As I spent time with these children, as they took my hand, as we chatted and they led me around their school's vegetable garden and compost heap, it reinforced my responsibility to do everything in my power to ensure they inherit a planet that is liveable and an economy that is sustainable. I want to thank Mrs Oppliger and the principal of Vardy's Road Public School, Mrs Amanda Connelly, and above all the students who hosted me—Sophie, James, Jason, Cameron, Thomas, Lena, Tarina, Jackson, Breannon, Jack, Kiannah, Mona, Jessica L., Kaustubh , Heath, Bradley, Caitlin, Jordan, Tyler, Jessica K., Sarah and Andrew. To them I say a special thank you for sending me a photo of your class, which I will keep in my office to remind me about what is important and your message that your future is in my hands.

I also held a student leadership roundtable in Blacktown during April's youth week celebrations. This roundtable was attended by 18 student representatives from Greenway, drawn from nine local high schools. I want to thank all the participants for an enlightening afternoon of open opinions and constructive discussions and a listening exercise for me. Again, these are young people who cannot yet vote but who feel deeply frustrated that the future could be determined by some people who refuse to believe the science of climate change and the contribution of humans towards it. As they discussed a wide range of issues from binge drinking to discrimination it became clear that climate change was the standout issue of importance to them and that we must take action now to tackle climate change to position Australia for the future.

It is these young people who provide us with the most appropriate case studies about why we cannot shy away from our climate change responsibility. I could look these young people in the eye—the future of this country—and tell them that I am a member of a government that cares about the future, that I believe climate change is real and that I am committed to doing something about it. I thank them all for their time, their contribution and their patience in educating me about what is important to them. Above all, I reaffirm my commitment to these young people to not let them down.