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School Strike 4 Climate Rally

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Tags: Climate Change

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to the organisers and attendees of the School Strike 4 Climate Rally. A number of rallies were held about climate action before the federal election. There was a Vote Climate Action the week beforehand, and on the Friday before there was a School Strike 4 Climate.

Owen Fitzgerald was one of the people who spoke. He is a 16 year old student. He told people that he spoke because he cannot vote, and so he has to rely on the choices made by others to dictate his future. He was at the rally to make his voice heard and to create change for the future. I will just quote Owen's words now:

To quote Scott Morrison, 'that is not my job'. What we are doing today is no one's job and it should never be.

No one should ever have to fight for their rights for their freedom or their lives. No one should have to give up an education to fight a government that is meant to guide them.

But across the world, young people are fighting every day. In Australia, we are fighting for a liveable future. We are fighting for First Nation People's rights, to support our forests, our oceans, and have our voices heard.

As I speak, the natural world is collapsing due to government actions. Coal and gas mines are still running, and still have been approved across the country.

In Tasmania, Mr Rockliff is still allowing Forestry to log and burn thousands of hectares of old growth forest, and for salmon farms to pollute our waterways across the state.

Our federal environment minister is lying her way out of her position in parliament by stating she now has no duty of care for young people when it comes to the climate crisis.

Our federal government has failed to protect and guide the next generation. They have been invested in themselves and power.

Well, guess what. Power does not last. What you, the government, are leaving to the future generations is a fight, a fight for us to survive, because you took no action.

Owen went on to say :

The only action that was related to the climate crisis taken by the federal government has been to deny the impact of the crisis, to fail to support people in communities when faced with nationwide fires and floods. To ignore the science, to fail a COP26 and show the world how uneducated they truly are, and to take coal into parliament.

You have shown the world and the Australian people how uneducated and greedy you are.

He finishes by saying:

We need a closer net zero target, and we need to see more government action based around the Paris agreement.

We also need a youth voice in parliament, and a government to care about our future.

We need a government to listen, we need action, and we will keep fighting for a future, to have our voices heard.

Mr Deputy Speaker, what prophetic words of Owen's and others who spoke at the Climate Rally before the election. What he was speaking about was the Youthquake, which has caused seat after seat that have been long held by the Liberal party in Australia to fall to Greens, teals and Labor members.

We now have an utterly different parliament - and that is an opportunity that I am sure every Green, Teal and Labor member who has stood for climate action will not let pass for even a day, because it is very clear that young people understand just how urgent the climate crisis is.

The energy and the motivation behind the election result was powered by - among other people - young people. I received an email from Declan, a 16-year-old who lives in Meanjin, Brisbane, thanking everybody involved in the School Strike 4 Climate movement - because it is a movement, Mr Speaker. It is a movement of very young people. He said:

Saturday was a tidal wave of climate concern and climate-conscious voting. The meaning was clear, the message was clear: there is a political cost in failing to step up to the climate challenge.

Well, the political cost is clear.

If anyone is still in any doubt that young people will not be stopped, it was the movement of young people, the movement of environmental consciousness in this country, which has meant we now have Greens in the balance of power in senate federally. It was thanks to organisations and the sort of campaigning and peaceful protesting of School Strikes 4 Climate that mobilised thousands of people across cities and towns in Australia.

They conducted teach-ins with members of parliament and with the public, so people could actually understand the urgency of climate change. They held candidate forums, and educated and enrolled more than 5000 young people to vote, because in the snap 2019 double-dissolution Scott Morrison effectively disenfranchised young people by not allowing enough time for them to enrol, to vote, and to take up that opportunity for their democratic voice.

They also were a presence, these young people, at polling booths across key seats. They led a nationwide conversation about climate justice, climate ambition, and about the urgency for their future, the urgency for our future.

Mr Deputy Speaker, on behalf of the Greens, I give my wholehearted thanks to Owen Fitzgerald, Sam Eckleston, and all the other School Strike 4 Climate organisers who have been there over the years. We did not get the result that we needed in 2019, but here we are in 2022.

Every day matters, every tiny fraction of a degree matters, every ton of carbon dioxide that continues to be emitted into the atmosphere matters, and the Greens will continue to back young people in their pursuit for a safe climate future.