We need strong action on climate change

We need strong action on climate change Main Image

10 August 2021

I rise today to reiterate the need for strong action on climate change. My electorate has been hit hard by concurrent natural disasters for years now. People across Eden-Monaro will never forget the bushfires that devastated our region. Many communities across the electorate are still recovering and rebuilding, all while trying to process the mental toll of the bushfires and cope with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

But, for us, bushfires aren't the only natural disaster to hit Eden-Monaro. We had prolonged drought, bushfires, floods and then a pandemic hit our communities. According to the data from our six local council areas, we've been impacted by 28 declared natural disasters in the last three years alone. During that time we have faced more than 18 major floods and at least six bushfire events, which culminated in over a million hectares of land being burnt across the electorate in the Black Summer. Every few months over the last three years, constituents in parts of my electorate had to stop whatever they were doing and prepare for the worst. They've had to sandbag properties, evacuate themselves and evacuate livestock, often while having to make painful decisions during evacuations about what to save and what to leave.

After reading the IPCC report, I worry about what more is to come if more action isn't taken. It is clear—heat extremes have increased in Australia, and the intensity, frequency and duration of extreme weather events are projected to increase. We've battled through a terrifying summer of bushfires, and I can't imagine—and I don't want to imagine—how we would get through a more intense or longer bushfire period. We need to do more to prevent this from happening again. It's not good enough to stand at the lectern and laugh about a resources sector when people are really struggling in their day-to-day lives because of these events currently happening. We have had eight years of inaction by this government. It's past time that this government start delivering.

Stabilising the climate requires rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and reaching net zero emissions. All our states and territories and all leading business, industry and agricultural groups are on the same page, committing to at least net zero emissions by 2050. But the Morrison government is refusing, even at the bare minimum, to do that. We've got a prime minister who refuses to see what's obvious to so many across this country and so many people across my electorate. We've got a government so divided on the basic science of climate change that it's unable to see that the disaster unfolding in front of us could also be Australia's job opportunity. The Morrison government are failing to see all the reasons why action on climate change must start now. Enough flying blind; it's time to open your eyes and see what's right in front of you.

The world is going to move rapidly towards renewable energy. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Australia to jump ahead of the pack, with Australian renewable energy made by our workers and our technology here at home exported to a world hungry with demand. By investing in renewables we could create thousands of jobs in growing industries and more jobs in existing industries, and make power cheaper for homes and businesses. Good climate policy is good jobs policy. Good climate policy benefits individuals, families, businesses and communities. Good climate policy is needed for a prosperous Australia.

We've already lost 10 years to coalition scare campaigns against climate action, and we can't afford to lose another 10 years. The climate wars need to end. And this government's term is rapidly coming to an end. Australia cannot afford to waste any more time. My communities cannot afford what happens when we don't act. There is a couple in my electorate who, after 20 months, are still living in a caravan, and they're not the only ones. They're in their 80s. Jim and Enid are at their wit's end. They're in their 80s and they have said that they have never seen things so bad, that the bushfires they experienced were horrendous. They've seen bushfires before, and they have said directly that this is a result of climate change. The eight floods they endured after those bushfires 20 months ago are the result of climate change. We need action and we need it now. We need it for our communities and we need it for jobs.