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Youth Week

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 11 April 2019

Tags: Climate Change, Young People

Youth Week Matter of Public Importance: Woodruff


Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I am pleased to make a contribution on Youth Week. What we have come to see as adults recently, is the enormous power of youth, the strength of youth and the great antidote that collective youth action is proving to be in the epidemic of anxiety and depression which so many young people in Tasmania are affected by.

Through the history of human societies, the antidote of collective action has been proven to be the one thing that can bring us together when we feel overwhelmed with environmental circumstances, social conditions and climate threats, to come together and work as a community to find solutions and to take actions and take back power into people's own lives and give people a sense of control.

The control that young people are so desperately trying to achieve is a sense of control at a planet which is in the throes of runaway global warming. It has been created by the burning of fossil fuels and is now at unsustainable levels. There is a cap, there is a limit. There is not an unending amount of fossil fuels we can continue to burn. The scientists have given us numbers and dates. Young people are incredibly smart and connected and they are aware of all of this information.

It may be that a lot of older dinosaurs in the Liberal and Labor parties continue to put their head in the sand about the reality of what is happening with global warming and the relationship between burning coal-fired power, gas-fired power and the warming of the planet. Young people know that we cannot continue to put our heads in the sand. It is the voice of one single young woman, Greta Thunberg in Sweden. On Fridays she stood on her own in the snow, in Sweden, and went on strike from school because it was the only thing that she could think of to do. Her single action, that step and the incredible strength of that young person has been an inspiration, a flame of hope and action, for children and young people all across the planet.

Now today in Tasmania, we are all benefiting from that global collective action. More than 8000 young people went on strike and stood outside here, despite the fact that not a single Liberal politician was out there to speak to them. The Premier hid from those voices. He would not be seen. He could not be seen in public with the biggest strike ever, the biggest march that we can remember on Parliament Lawns, so large that it spilled all around the streets around Parliament House, yet the Premier was too gutless to make time in his diary. He knew it was coming. He knew when it was. It was well forecast and he was too afraid to stand outside and look into the eyes of those young people, because their clarity is absolutely catalytic to experience, there is nothing else I can say about it.

Madam Speaker, I know you were there. You hosted a wonderful event here in Parliament House which forecast the work of four young Tasmanians on behalf of Tasmania, and on behalf of Australia really, who went as our ambassadors to the Conference of the Parties. They were there and spoke the truth about the relationship between the Adani coalmine and the warming of the planet. We must stop that mine and we will stop that mine. Bob Brown is taking a cavalcade from Tasmania, the birthplace of the Greens, he will be heading off from Tasmania in his little wagon, electric cars and even fossil fuelled cars, because we have not got everywhere yet. It is not perfect, but, hell, we are all going to get there together and we are going to head up to the Carmichael mine. We are going to make sure that everyone in Australia understands.

Young people will be there. Young people will be leading the charge and ending up at Parliament House to say to the Liberal and Labor parties, 'Do not support this Adani coalmine', because we cannot keep doing it. A study showed that 96 per cent of young people are concerned about climate change and know it is a serious problem, while 70 per cent of them feel disempowered. The antidote is collective action from young people, the school strikes for climate and children such as Imogen Viner from Cygnet who said in a speech she wrote and sent to all MPs:

There is one more thing I seen in the future, Prime Minister Morrison, one light amidst the gloom, and that is young people themselves taking a stand for what they believe in, young people willing to sacrifice their education, a basic human right, for action on climate change, young people taking an interest in politics, taking an interest in the workings of the world and making their mark. For we are the future, Mr Morrison.

I hope that the Liberal Party and the Labor Party listen to the young people of Tasmania when they make a decision about what their policies will be around coal, electricity production, gas, reducing emissions and protecting us form the bushfires that will come next summer and may indeed come on the east coast next week, who knows, because we are in a forever changed climate world and young people are going to be our voice for the future.