Climate Change Bill 2022

SECOND READING DEBATE SPEECH - HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Today is my son's birthday. He is 31. I'm standing tonight to speak on Labor's Climate Change Bill 2022. When my youngest son was 15, I had enormous hope that we were going to do something about climate change. My three sons had enormous hope that, as a country, we were locked into a future that would see us take the lead internationally. It's been a long road—an enormously long road—and we're here tonight because it's the right thing to do. It's the responsible thing to do. We're back with the good global citizens who take responsibility. We become part of the solution. It has been a long journey.

For those in the chamber who still try and guess my age, I am old enough to remember being an assistant principal in a local school in my electorate of Lalor when local activist Harry van Moorst approached me. I organised a screening of An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore's moving, action-making, provocative documentary, and students in my school and their parents attended to watch it. It was the same year I first heard the term 'triple bottom line'. I heard it from corporations that were presenting locally about the bright future that we were going to have because corporate Australia was on board with action on climate change. Big business was with us. I am old enough to remember the 2009 Senate vote that torpedoed the CPRS. I am old enough to remember what ultimately gave the laggards and the deniers opposite the power to derail the disruption that we desperately needed.

 I want to say something to the generations of students I taught to create a cogent argument. I taught them to stand up for what they held dear. I taught them to influence an outcome. To the local people and young people of Lalor I have taught, who have expressed their frustration and often their despair at the decade of inaction that was thrust upon us, I want to say again: hope, hard work, creativity and the power of expression bring change. Tonight we say it has brought change.

I want to thank the minister, who is in the chamber with me now, the member for McMahon, Chris Bowen, who has crafted a new way forward with my Labor colleagues. He's taken those things—hope, hard work, creativity —and he's creating change. We are creating change with him, and everyone in the chamber is doing the same. Today is a day of extraordinary celebration, a day we finally moved from inertia to action. We are going to set a target; we are going to set two. We are going to set a 43 per cent target for 2030 and a zero per cent target for 2050. Those students I taught across the years about how to get ongoing improvement will understand, and they will tune in now when I start talking about setting targets. We are going to set a target, we are going to measure what matters and we are going to be accountable for the progress against those targets. We are going to measure that progress and, more importantly, as all students I've ever taught know, beyond that target to the next level. What's next, I asked those students all the time about their progress in my classroom. It's an incredibly proud day. It's a day when we all acknowledge that to go after what is possible is much more important than to go after what is perfect, because, if you get stuck on what's perfect, you obstruct what is possible. These have been hard lessons. I hope that everybody across the country understands those lessons.

 This week we move forward with certainty. The businesses that talked to me about the triple bottom line so many years ago will have certainty beyond this legislation being passed; they'll have certainty that they can deliver, that they can actually act in their best interests. We are going to be moving forward together as a country after tonight. The laggards will be behind us, and the rest of us will keep moving forward.

 I represent a community that has some of the highest rates of rooftop solar in the country. They are really proud tonight. I am really proud to say that we have joined with the state government, which has already made commitments to community batteries, and we will be one of the first electorates to have a new community battery delivered by the federal government. Our commitment is to the grassroots because it is the grassroots of this country that have driven this change. They were blocked for 10 years. But it's activists, community members and people who care about the future of their children. When I think about those generations of kids, when I think about my classroom, when I think of that viewing of An Inconvenient Truth and when I think about where those young people are now—changing the world in all their many and varied ways—I know that they're with me tonight thinking, 'We're there.' It's been slow. There have been blockers. But we're finally there. We're finally ready to confront the challenge and embrace the renewal opportunity that's before our country.

 We're going to take our place internationally. We're going to be leaders. And, as you've heard from so many speakers tonight, the planning of this bill and what is put into this program and this policy includes consideration for the change and how change might impact our regions particularly. Those things have been built in. This is a fabulous piece of work. I am really proud to be a member of the Labor Party tonight. I'm really proud to be a member of a Labor government that's actually going to finally deliver on the promise to the moral dilemma of our age.

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