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Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Tags: Climate Emergency

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, you would not know it in this place but two weeks ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change handed down its sixth assessment report which is, in the words of United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, 'a code red for humanity'. We have this puerile matter of public importance debate brought on by an alleged scientist, Dr Broad, that makes no mention of the IPCC report, not one word.

Unlike Dr Broad and Ms Courtney, I do not have a university degree and that is fine with me. But I picked up the IPCC report and I read as much of it as I could. I read the summary for policymakers and this is what I know: it is the most important issue this parliament faces; it will affect every aspect of our lives and our children's lives; it will impact on jobs in cities and towns, in regional and rural Tasmania.

We need to address it in this place and yet Dr Broad: not one word about the state of the climate and nor from Ms Courtney either, to be fair. But Dr Broad is a one-trick pony. Have a look at the Hansard over the last six to eight months. Almost daily he gets to his feet and, foaming at the mouth, has a crack at the Bob Brown Foundation and the Greens. It is like we are his reason to be. You could take it as flattery because he is talking about us all the time but it is also an abrogation of his responsibility to the people of Braddon. He is doing this for dog-whistling, political reasons. To marginalise a minority so that you whip up community anger is a hallmark of fascism, just as calling for stronger aggravated trespass or anti-protest laws has a whiff of fascism about it as well.

I encourage Dr Broad to expand his horizon, to think about the children in his electorate of Braddon and the young people who, while they may not have read the summary report for policymakers, they sure know that humanity is in a code red. Start acting in their best interests instead of coming here like some political hack from the last century.

That is what we are getting out of him. He does not understand federal environmental law. He is having a crack at the state Government over matters which are right outside their control. The federal Environment Minister has described MMG's proposed expansion as a controlled action. MMG was drilling that site near Rosebery without the proper approvals. MMG submitted documentation to the federal Environment Department which was inadequate and did not have sufficient environmental assessments in it. Their excuse was that they did not have time because the protesters were in the way so they just went in there anyway.

This part of Tasmania, takayna, the Tarkine, is one the world's last great wildernesses. Yes, it is sitting on top of the Mt Read volcanics. Yes, there is a long history of mining on the west coast and, yes, mining is critical to our economy. But we cannot allow ourselves to get trapped by a false choice here. We can look after wilderness and can have mining, but you have to get the balance right. For too long in Tasmania, we have not got the balance right.

That is reflected in the Premier's Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council report, where Tasmanians who fed into this said 'the rhetoric around our clean, green brand is not matched by the reality' and where, to quote the report:

We heard that for Tasmania, simply making incremental improvements to sustainability will not be enough to support our brand. The quality of our environment and our practices in protecting and building our environmental value must be our differentiation in overseas markets. That will be a source of enduring competitive advantage.

The frustration Dr Woodruff and I feel when we listen to Dr Broad talk is that we know it is all about politics and marginalising conservationists. There does not seem to be any capacity in Dr Broad's apparently vast scientific brain for understanding nuance and understanding what real balance looks like. He never talks about the values of the Tarkine unless they are monetary values. It is a one-trick political pony operation over there. What he is hoping is that The Advocate will pick up his rant from today and publish some of it tomorrow so his constituents can hear him dog-whistling from there.

Tasmania, the planet is in a state of code red. It is raining in the peaks of Greenland where it has never rained before. California is on fire, the Gulf Stream is wobbling, the Arctic is melting and great chunks of Antarctica are coming off it.

Tasmania's climate and local weather patterns are starting to change and that change is accelerating. If we are serious about long-term regional jobs, we have to get serious about climate action. I encourage Dr Broad to do more reading and live up to his title.