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Climate Emergency, Actions by Government and Opposition

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 26 September 2019

Tags: Climate Change

Climate Emergency, Actions by Government and Opposition: Cassy O'Connor, 26 September, 2019


Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, the good news is that the South Australian parliament has today declared a climate emergency. When I say 'good news', I use those words cautiously because the fact that we are in a climate emergency is not good news. It is the worst possible news, but the truth has now been acknowledged by the South Australian parliament and by more than 1000 local governments and jurisdictions around the world. As I mentioned earlier this week, the Glenorchy City Council will be debating a climate emergency motion brought on by Alderman Kelly Sims on Monday 30 September.

This sits in stark contrast to how this parliament responded to our move to declare a climate emergency or on supporting the climate strike. In this parliament on this issue we regard the major parties as on a unity ticket. After last night uniting to vote against the Greens motion to support the climate strike movement, today our colleagues in here refused to take responsibility.

The Liberals claim to be global leaders, yet are planning to log 356 000 hectares of natural carbon-sink forests. Those forests are a gift to the world and to future generations. In Estimates this year when we asked the then Resources minister, Ms Courtney, what the plan was for that vast carbon bank, the statement from the minister that was that there were no plans to log those forests. Now, in parliament this week we hear from the Premier, the Treasurer and of course from the Minister for Resources that these forests are regarded as a wood bank.

If you believe the science, as Dr Woodruff and I do, you will know that they are in fact a carbon bank. We have had a little bit more dishonesty from the Government today on Forest Stewardship Council certification, because we know that the interim report went to Sustainable Timbers Tasmania. We had that confirmed by SGS Global. The Government's statement to try to obfuscate the fact that STT has failed to achieve FSC certification says the Government has not received the interim report. Of course they probably said, 'Don't give it to us,' and then the next statement is a Sustainable Timber Tasmania spokesperson saying STT has not received the FSC audit report.

You are being tricky with language. We know what you are up to here. The interim report went to STT on 31 May this year, four months ago, and clearly no-one in government asked for the interim report and now STT is stating that it has not got the final audit report. We know that STT has failed FSC certification and the fact that the minister this morning could not deny it tells us everything we need to know.

What did Labor do at their last state conference? They voted for motion 28 on forestry, which says:

Labor also believes Tasmania now has the appropriate balance between timber production and conservation of its forests.

Motion 29 says:

Labor does not support the establishment of any new reserves such as the Tarkine National Park, Tarkine World Heritage Area, nor the transfer of any other timber production forests into reserves.

That is Labor slapping children in the face again. Those 356 000 hectares of high-conservation-value carbon-sink forests which were set aside as a second tranche of reserves under the Tasmanian Forests Agreement were always intended to go into reserves because of their high conservation value and at a time of climate emergency it is even more critical that they be protected. Labor, woeful Labor, could not even get up in this place today and defend themselves on a censure motion. Woeful, pathetic Labor could only last night vote to acknowledge the climate strikers, not support them.

Madam Speaker, we acknowledge that all manner of sins and wicked people exist - Scott Morrison, Donald Trump and the Liberal and Labor coal-loving donor - but we would never support them. That is the difference between supporting and acknowledging something. Hand-wringing and lip service are meaningless. How we vote is why we are here. It is the power of our vote that demonstrates our accountability to Tasmanians.

I hear that the Treasurer, after I got turfed this morning for standing up for young people on climate, had a crack at me and said I was unable to control myself. Well, to coin one of his phrases, I make no apology for being passionate about climate action and the protection of our forests and the future of young people. Young people need a voice in this parliament, not excuses, and we will be that voice. They need leadership and climate champions and it is clear that they will not be found in the Liberals or Labor, regrettably.

For every young person who looks to us for leadership, they will know that Elise Archer, Guy Barnett, Shane Broad, Jenna Butler, Sarah Courtney, Anita Dow, Michael Ferguson, Peter Gutwein, Ella Haddad, Sue Hickey, Will Hodgman, Jennifer Houston, Roger Jaensch, David O'Byrne, Jacquie Petrusma, Jeremy Rockliff, Joan Rylah, Mark Shelton, Alison Standen, John Tucker and Rebecca White voted not to support the climate strike.

They let down thousands of Tasmanians, particularly those who attended the strike, and then they voted, like Ms Standen, to water down our motion to remove the support and hope for young people. A disgraceful performance, Madam Speaker, disgraceful.

Member SuspendedMember for Clark - Ms O'Connor

Madam SPEAKER - Order. I am very unimpressed with this behaviour, Ms O'Connor, but this is -

Ms O'Connor - Could you be specific please, Madam Speaker?

Madam SPEAKER - Yes, I think it is disgraceful. You are trying to shame people. You are two opinions in the whole parliament. It does not make your opinion correct. I do not believe the people you have named did not vote to support the climate change. In fact, if I could see that motion, the one that was voted on, it actually does recognise the strike. So you will not bully and intimidate people in this parliament.

Ms O'Connor - With respect, Madam Speaker. Bully and intimidate?

Madam SPEAKER - You have done nothing but be cranky and rude all day. I ask you now to leave this Chamber because you have finished.

Ms O'Connor - Bully and intimidate. I take offence.

Madam SPEAKER - That is exactly how we feel, is that not the way?

Ms O'Connor - Madam Speaker, your vote speaks for itself.

Madam SPEAKER - Good. Now, leave the room. That is a classic example of bullying and intimidation.

Ms O'Connor - We will send the Hansard out to everyone. Do not worry about that.

Madam SPEAKER - That is a classic example of bullying and intimidation. Appalling behaviour.

Ms O'Connor withdrew.