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Censure Motion without Notice

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 26 September 2019

Tags: Climate Change, IPCC, Extinction

Censure Motion in Labor and Liberals: Cassy O'Connor MP, 26 September, 2019


Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens - Motion) - Madam Speaker, I seek the leave of the House to move a motion without notice for the purpose of moving the suspension of Standing Orders to debate the following motion of censure -

That this House censures Elise Archer, Guy Barnett, Shane Broad, Jenna Butler, Sarah Courtney, Anita Dow, Michael Ferguson, Peter Gutwein, Eloise Haddad, Susannne Hickey, William Hodgman, Jennifer Houston, Roger Jaensch, David O'Byrne, Jacqueline Petrusma, Jeremy Rockliff, Joan Rylah, Mark Shelton, Alison Standen, John Tucker and Rebecca White on the following grounds -

  1. The members' failure to offer meaningful support to young people in their fight for a safe climate;
  2. The members' failure to stand up to their federal colleagues' shameful advocacy for the coal, oil and gas industries, as well their willingness to accept donations from these industries'
  3. The members' shameful support for logging natural forest carbon banks; and
  4. The members' complicity in global climate and environmental vandalism that has led to a climate and biodiversity emergency.

As Greta Thunberg said in front of the UN Climate Summit, how dare all of you vote against supporting young peoples' strike for a safe climate? These young people, 15 000 or more young Tasmanians, their mums, dads, aunts, uncles and friends stood up on the lawns of the Tasmanian Parliament last Friday demanding leadership on climate change. If the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, wants kids just to be kids, then leaders need to be leaders, and every person in this place who yesterday voted against supporting young people striking for a safe climate, it is an absolute failure of leadership and shame on all of you. You are a disgrace.

We censure every member of this place and we will make sure that out in the community our constituents know how every person voted in this place when they were given an opportunity to support young people striking for a safe climate. It is an absolute failure of leadership and a failure to support young Tasmanians in their struggle for the security of their futures, lying to the public about Tasmania being a global leader in climate action - and let us be clear about that. Go and have a look at the greenhouse accounts. The reason that Tasmania is a net carbon sink is because of the struggle of the conservation movement and the Greens over decades to protect our natural forests. Our forests are what gives the Premier of the day the opportunity to get up here and pretend that he is a global climate leader when he is not, because his Government wants to log 356 000 hectares of some of the most beautiful carbon-dense forests on the planet.

We had it confirmed in parliament today that the Government has failed to secure stewardship certification for Sustainable Timbers Tasmania. While the Minister for Resources could not bring himself to tell the truth, by omission we now know that a report which was handed from the Forest Stewardship Council to Sustainable Timbers Tasmania on the last Friday in May this year condemned, in effect, STT's logging practices which are driving species towards extinction. These are logging practises in swift parrot habitat, masked owl habitat and Tasmanian devil habitat, and the Forest Stewardship Council rightly said to the Tasmanian Government and to our Forestry GBE, 'You do not deserve FSC certification because your logging practices are not sustainable'. In a time of climate and biodiversity emergency, there is no justification on moral grounds for logging those forests.

There is an absolute failure of Tasmanian Labor to commit to climate action when just recently at a Labor state conference they approved a motion which supported current forestry practices, that being the same policy as the Liberal Government. We know that responsibility for Sustainable Timbers Tasmania's incapacity to get FSC certification rests squarely on the Liberals' shoulders and they are being cheered on by every member of the Labor Party, which stood in this place last night and refused to support children striking for a safe climate. This is the same Labor Party that supports the Adani Coal Mine, takes massive donations from the coal, oil and gas industries and has signed up to the Parliamentary Friends of Coal, which is an absolute moral failure and a massive slap in the face to young people.

How can young Tasmanians, who attended that climate strike in their thousands, seriously believe that both the Labor and Liberal Parties are hearing their concerns? They cannot. I arrived home last night after that vote and I had to deal with a really distressed child and I asked, 'what is the matter, darling?'. 'I am experiencing existential angst, mum.'. That came from watching this debate in here last night.

Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, I draw your attention to the fact that you are supposed to be debating the need for leave and not the substantive motion. I also point out, I take tremendous personal offence at what you have been doing this morning because I went to that rally and I also believe in it and I believe most of this House supported your motion with a few additions. I am very disappointed you are doing this but I ask you to stay on note and address the request for leave. Stop lecturing us.

Member Suspended - Member for Clark, Ms O'Connor.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you for telling me how you feel, Madam Speaker. The vote in this place last night speaks for itself. Ultimately, we are elected into this place to vote, not to pay lip service to young people and the need for climate action. It is our vote that counts and what Labor, the Liberals and every member in this place, apart from Dr Woodruff, Ms Ogilvie and I, voted for was only to acknowledge the climate strike. You did not vote to support those kids. We censure every member of this place, Madam Speaker, and that includes you.

Madam SPEAKER - Alright, you may now leave the Chamber for being offensive, yet again. You have not apologised and out you go. You can stay out now for the afternoon. You can come back in at adjournment at 6 p.m.

Ms O'Connor withdrew.

Madam SPEAKER - The question is that leave be granted -

Dr WOODRUFF - Madam Speaker, I am seeking the call.

Madam SPEAKER - On what basis?

Dr WOODRUFF - It is a debate and I am the second speaker on the debate.

Madam SPEAKER - Okay.

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Thank you, Madam Speaker. This House needs to suspend Standing Orders to deal with this matter today, given the urgency of this issue. As if we needed another disastrous report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), they have, a few hours ago in Monaco, delivered their Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. It is devastating news for those of us who are fighting the battle against a climate breakdown. It makes very clear that our ocean and cryosphere, which is all the snow and ice on the planet, sustains us, are under immense pressure, that the changes to the oceans and cryosphere affect all of our lives and the time for action on this is now - not tomorrow, not next week but today.

On that basis, every member in this place has to understand that our inaction, our failure to support the demands of the School Strike for Climate movement, which is now a global strike, our failure to understand that we are so far from being global climate leaders, these things must be changed. We must reverse these failures. We can do it. Every member in this place can do it. We can no longer sit here and ignore the actions of other people in Australian parliaments.

We call on this parliament to suspend Standing Orders so we can debate this motion of censure because the Greens believe it is important that every single member of the House, the Labor Party and the Liberal Party, understands that we have personal responsibility to Tasmanians. We are here in the Parliament of Tasmania because we represent the people of this state. It is our obligation, the obligation of the members listed, to stand up to their federal colleagues, to stand up to the federal Labor Party, to stand up to the federal Liberal Party to make a clear statement that here in Tasmania -

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff. You are to address the seeking of leave. I ask you to contain your comments to the seeking of leave. This is not the general debate.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, you are correct. I will come back to the point of urgency. It is not something we can put off until the next session of parliament. We have only years left to turn around the whole planet, which means every single person must, as a country and in Tasmania, play a part in that. We must be responsible for the actions of other people in our parties and the censure is directed at the Liberal and Labor party members who are failing to act on behalf of Tasmanians. Every day they come to this parliament and pretend, offering faux support for the climate strike. You can turn up or not, but it is your actions and what you say when you do it that count.

Ms STANDEN - Point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I take deep personal offence at the inference that I do not care for the future of young people and climate change. As shadow minister for climate change and as a parent, I attended the climate strike last Friday. I spoke passionately in support of amendments to the motion yesterday declaring a climate emergency amongst other things. I ask her to withdraw.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER - In this case it is not a point of order. You were not named directly. She is unable to withdraw the comment unless she had named you specifically in the general comments. However, I ask the member to speak to the seeking of leave.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I seek the leave of the House to debate this matter today because it is clear that the members mentioned in the censure motion voted to support a statement that says, 'Tasmanians understand we are in a global-leading position on climate change.'. We do not. It is dangerous to peddle that mistruth. It is a lie to say that we are global leaders in climate change. It is not good enough to have a wimpish statement about acknowledging concern on an issue that has led to the global strike movement and is leading to the extinction of species and the possible extinction of the human species. It is not good enough.

One of the ministers mentioned, Michael Ferguson, is shaking his head and even he would reject today, still, the United Nations and the IPCC statement. This is what we have to change. We have time to do it. We are losing the race but when there is a leak in the boat, you do not jump in and hack at it to make it bigger. You do not chop down 356 000 hectares of carbon-rich forest. You do not fail to stand up to your federal Liberal and Labor party colleagues and call them out for taking money from the gas, coal and other fossil-fuelled industries.

You do everything you possibly can. We need to have this censure debate so that every member in this House can leave tonight, go home and talk to the young people who were at the strike, wherever they meet them, and make it really clear that they do understand what action looks like on climate change. It is not only nice words and holding placards. It is doing something and we are the only people in this state that can do that. We have that special ability and a special right. It is our responsibility to change and make it clear that every single member who was mentioned in the censure motion, every member has the opportunity to do something good for this state, does so for their children's future. On that basis, we are calling that today we suspend Standing Orders to debate this motion.

Time expired.