Girls Take Over Parliament/Climate Change - 21/10/2019

21 October 2019



In light of the Prime Minister belittling school students for striking for climate action, I thought I would bring the voice of one such student from my electorate to this place. Raechel McKinnon, a year 8 student from Merici College here in Canberra wrote this speech for me last week in Girls Takeover Parliament. If the government won't listen to the Labor Party, I call on them to listen to the next generation, whose future is at stake if we don't take action now. This is the speech Raechel wrote for me:


It is with great sorrow and disappointment that I am here again to talk about the impact of climate change and the importance of doing something about it.

As I said in my previous speech on climate change, electors in Canberra have vocalised their concerns on the lack of action on what the Australian government is doing to prevent our planet from dying.

Under the power of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government, no difference is being made whatsoever. Australians are living under the power of an all talk, no action government.

The government is doing nothing to contribute to change the situation that we are in, despite of the public's needs and wants.

On the 20th of September, my Labor colleagues and I joined with 10,000 Canberrans in Glebe Park to strike for Climate as part of the international movement inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

300,000 people gathered around Australia calling for action on climate change.

Out of 195 countries, Australia is the 20th richest country in the world and we are within the top 15 countries in terms of carbon emissions. We have the ability to reduce our carbon emissions and fossil fuels. Moreover, we have a responsibility.

However, the federal government has chosen not to act.

It appears to me that the government is not comprehending how much of an issue climate change is. So let me lay out the facts for you.

The Great Barrier Reef is able to be seen from outer space, is visited by 2 million tourists every year and generates for us roughly 5-6 billion dollars per year in economic gains.

However, if we keep emitting carbon dioxide into the environment, the Great Barrier Reef is expected to die by 2050, and, according to scientists, half of the great barrier reef is already dead.

If a climate emergency is not announced, and we do not make a change, the Great Barrier Reef has no hope whatsoever. The Great Barrier Reef will die.

This is not just tragic because the Great Barrier Reef is home to over 1,000 different species of living organisms; but we will also lose a lot of tourism in Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Australia. If the Great Barrier Reef dies, Australia will lose roughly 1.3 million tourists every year. Nobody wants to visit a dead reef; it would just be a painful reminder of how terribly we have treated this earth.

The reef has become vulnerable because of human activity and the pollution that has been emitted to the environment. Oceans absorb up to 25% of the carbon dioxide which citizens across the world produce every year.

The Australian government needs to take action on climate change. Climate change is not impacting on an environment that is somehow separate to our every day lives. It is our world that we are destroying, our home.

Our Prime Minister needs to step up and recognise the science, for current and future generations.

He must not settle for anything less than to declare urgent climate action, because it is with great regret that this has become an emergency.

The Australian government doesn't understand that climate change is a silent killer—it is staring them in the face, why won't they open their eyes and look at it?


Thank you, Raechel, for this great speech.

As her representative here in this place, I support climate action and the declaration of a climate emergency by this parliament. As you see, in spite of what the Prime Minister says, the youth of today are not relaxed and comfortable. They are engaged and informed, and they are anxious for action on climate change because they know our future depends on it. They know what is at stake. The Prime Minister will not make the facts go away by simply dismissing them. Australia must transform the way that we do things in order to stay below a two-degree increase in global temperatures and must make efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. To do this, we must get to zero emissions by 2050. It is incumbent on us in this place to take action now so that future generations might be given a fighting chance. Labor will continue to fight for real action on climate change from this government. I support this declaration today of a climate emergency. I am proud to represent the activists in my electorate, who will also keep up the fight because they understand what is at stake.