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Greens Matter of Public Importance - Youth Week

11 April 2019
Rosalie Woodruff MP

 

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I am pleased to make a 
contribution on Youth Week. What we have come to see as adults recently, 
is the enormous power of youth, the strength of youth and the great 
antidote that collective youth action is proving to be in the epidemic of 
anxiety and depression which so many young people in Tasmania are affected 
by.

Through the history of human societies, the antidote of collective action 
has been proven to be the one thing that can bring us together when we 
feel overwhelmed with environmental circumstances, social conditions and 
climate threats, to come together and work as a community to find 
solutions and to take actions and take back power into people's own lives 
and give people a sense of control.

The control that young people are so desperately trying to achieve is a 
sense of control at a planet which is in the throes of runaway global 
warming. It has been created by the burning of fossil fuels and is now at 
unsustainable levels. There is a cap, there is a limit. There is not an 
unending amount of fossil fuels we can continue to burn. The scientists 
have given us numbers and dates. Young people are incredibly smart and 
connected and they are aware of all of this information.

It may be that a lot of older dinosaurs in the Liberal and Labor parties 
continue to put their head in the sand about the reality of what is 
happening with global warming and the relationship between burning coal-
fired power, gas-fired power and the warming of the planet. Young people 
know that we cannot continue to put our heads in the sand. It is the 
voice of one single young woman, Greta Thunberg in Sweden. On Fridays she 
stood on her own in the snow, in Sweden, and went on strike from school 
because it was the only thing that she could think of to do. Her single 
action, that step and the incredible strength of that young person has 
been an inspiration, a flame of hope and action, for children and young 
people all across the planet. 

Now today in Tasmania, we are all benefiting from that global collective 
action. More than 8000 young people went on strike and stood outside here, 
despite the fact that not a single Liberal politician was out there to 
speak to them. The Premier hid from those voices. He would not be seen. 
He could not be seen in public with the biggest strike ever, the biggest 
march that we can remember on Parliament Lawns, so large that it spilled 
all around the streets around Parliament House, yet the Premier was too 
gutless to make time in his diary. He knew it was coming. He knew when 
it was. It was well forecast and he was too afraid to stand outside and 
look into the eyes of those young people, because their clarity is 
absolutely catalytic to experience, there is nothing else I can say about 
it. 

Madam Speaker, I know you were there. You hosted a wonderful event here 
in Parliament House which forecast the work of four young Tasmanians on 
behalf of Tasmania, and on behalf of Australia really, who went as our 
ambassadors to the Conference of the Parties. They were there and spoke 
the truth about the relationship between the Adani coalmine and the 
warming of the planet. We must stop that mine and we will stop that mine. 
Bob Brown is taking a cavalcade from Tasmania, the birthplace of the 
Greens, he will be heading off from Tasmania in his little wagon, electric 
cars and even fossil fuelled cars, because we have not got everywhere yet. 
It is not perfect, but, hell, we are all going to get there together and 
we are going to head up to the Carmichael mine. We are going to make sure 
that everyone in Australia understands.

Young people will be there. Young people will be leading the charge and 
ending up at Parliament House to say to the Liberal and Labor parties, 'Do 
not support this Adani coalmine', because we cannot keep doing it. A 
study showed that 96 per cent of young people are concerned about climate 
change and know it is a serious problem, while 70 per cent of them feel 
disempowered. The antidote is collective action from young people, the 
school strikes for climate and children such as Imogen Viner from Cygnet 
who said in a speech she wrote and sent to all MPs:

There is one more thing I seen in the future, Prime Minister Morrison, one 
light amidst the gloom, and that is young people themselves taking a stand 
for what they believe in, young people willing to sacrifice their 
education, a basic human right, for action on climate change, young people 
taking an interest in politics, taking an interest in the workings of the 
world and making their mark. For we are the future, Mr Morrison. [TBC]

I hope that the Liberal Party and the Labor Party listen to the young 
people of Tasmania when they make a decision about what their policies 
will be around coal, electricity production, gas, reducing emissions and 
protecting us form the bushfires that will come next summer and may indeed 
come on the east coast next week, who knows, because we are in a forever 
changed climate world and young people are going to be our voice for the 
future.