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Youth Speaking Out on Issues

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Tags: Young People, Climate Change, Women

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, there has been so much in the news over the past couple of weeks over the federal Liberal Party bullying attitude towards women in politics. They show contempt for the need to have women equally represented in parliament. They seem, despite everything that has happened, determined to stick to a system that has failed. There are not enough women represented in the Liberal Party in Tasmania or at the federal level. It seems that the men are determined to keep it that way.

What this raises is where we need to be heading. The Greens are always looking ahead. We have achieved peak parity for women in the federal parliament. In the Tasmanian Parliament we would welcome the inclusion of some men in our ranks. We are open to all people.

What all parties must do better is have more voices of young people in parliament. It is the youth who are sometimes the only people in society prepared to speak the truth to power. They are looking with open eyes at the reality of the world.

I salute the bravery of nine-year-old Harper Neilson, who sat down for the Australian anthem because she wanted to make a statement about the fact it does not represent the Australian reality. It does not represent the reality of 50 000 years of indigenous culture, the lived experience of people who have fundamentally changed the landscape. People who have arrived in the last blink of an eye colonised this place with violence and have never established a treaty with the indigenous people. She made the point that we cannot all 'rejoice for we are young and free' because it is not true. She also made the point that it is not about 'advancing Australia fair' when indigenous people in this country have such a low life expectancy and such poor living conditions.

The responses she received were fascinating and frightening on some levels, including threats of violence from a federal senator. Senator Pauline Hanson threatened to 'kick her up the backside'. Ms Hanson accused her of being 'brainwashed by her parents' and 'heading down the wrong path'. The path that nine-year-old Harper headed down was the path of speaking the truth. Children across the world are increasingly facing up to the reality of extreme climate change.

In the United States this year, children in Florida are suing their state governor to force him to take action on climate change. Eight children aged between 10 and 20 years are named as plaintiffs in a case that will seek to force Florida to take action on a climate recovery plan. This case follows the same arguments mounted in cases around the United States at state and federal level courts, including Juliana versus the United States, filed in 2015 against the federal government. The argument for bringing that case was sound enough that it has been listed for a trial date in October this year.

Florida is vulnerable to climate change. It is a low lying state, so is Tasmania. It is low lying and on the east coast of our state we have the warmest waters on the planet. I salute the young people in Tasmania who are speaking up about climate change. The Greens will do everything we can to preselect young people, so we have more young voices with an opportunity to speak about their future.

It is clear that the old fuddy-duddies in the Government are not listening so they need to be replaced by young people who know the world they are likely to move in to. Every day, students and children in the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and many other organisations are speaking about climate change and making sure we start, as soon as possible, to mitigate the most damaging impacts of climate change, so the future will be more habitable than it otherwise would be.