Climate Change Petition - 28/07/2022

28 July 2022


Speaker, I congratulate you on your elevation to the chair. Today I have the great honour to table, on the behalf of thousands of women and non-binary people from around Australia, the #EverydayClimateCrisis Visual Petition, a collection of 1,247 images and personal statements showing the state of our environment in Australia today.

The project is the brainchild of Hilary Wardhaugh, and I am very pleased that she is here in the chamber today. She is a brilliant photographer. She had this idea based on the idea that, of course, a picture is worth a thousand words and that this project would give a megaphone to the voices of the advocates for action, Australia's flora and fauna, Indigenous cultures, oceans, land and future generations calling out for action on climate change. I seek leave to table the document.

Today in this parliament one of the first actions of the new Albanese Labor government happened. We introduced a bill that means every worker in Australia has 10 days of paid domestic violence leave. This is a win for years of advocacy from survivors, from unions and from frontline workers. They have made this possible, and today is the end of that campaign. I'm very proud it was one of our first actions, and today we wear this purple rose from the Australian Services Union in recognition of that advocacy.

Ecofeminism is a body of thought that uses the concept of gender to look at humans' relationships with nature. It explores women's connection with nature and the parallels between the oppression of women and the oppression of nature by humankind. It is very clear from the incredibly powerful images and statements in this petition that the unbridled exploitation of our natural world by humans is nothing short of a violence against our earth, which gives us life and sustains us, much like a mother.

The climate crisis really has resonated with women in my community. I don't want to in any way diminish the activism of men for climate action, which has also been mighty, but I do want to acknowledge the many groups and the women involved in this incredible project: Australian Parents For Climate Action, the Women's Climate Congress, the Women in Climate and Health Network, the Common Grace Show Your Stripes Project, and my constituent Toni Hassan's incredible work Conversation Pieces: Remembering Black Summer, which brought together women's recollections.

I've talked many times before about that experience here in Canberra, as a relatively new member in my previous term—just the depth of feeling from people in my community about that bushfire crisis. One is Amy Blain, who is a contributor to this project. I want to share what she wrote to me about it. The image that she has included is one of a burnt leaf—a blackened gum leaf—in a child's outstretched hand. The child's hand is sitting in the palm of an adult. Amy writes that she carried the leaf around for a long time finding the right moment to take the photo: 'I thought I was waiting for the perfect light, for the right backdrop. But, if I'm honest, it was just too difficult to take. The leaf came from our holiday home in Bermagui. I picked it up as we left suddenly during the 2020 bushfires. There was no clean water supply, we were disconnected and our seven-year-old was exhausted, terrified and constantly anxious. We drove home from the nightmare and found our newborn still had ash that fell from the sky in their ears. Our eldest had to get ash out of her eyes. We rushed back to smoke-filled Canberra where we suddenly felt unsafe and uncertain about our future and our kids' future. Journeys since then are often haunted with reminders for our little one: sounds of sirens and a preoccupation with why cars are travelling away from where we're going. What do they know that we don't? Why are they leaving?' Her mother threw the leaf out, and she rescued it. She says that was the moment when she realised it's not about the photo, it's about the story. And she took her photo.

I'm so proud now, having accepted this petition, that I'm able to present this in a government that is taking the action we need on climate change. It would have been just too depressing to do this had a government been elected that was not going to take the action we need, and I'm so proud that the people of Australia made that decision in May.