Australia Government on The Wrong Side of History

Christine Milne: We have a PM who is effectively barking mad on climate change

"I am devastated, but there is no time to mourn." The Australian Greens leader, Christine Milne, reflects on the repeal of the price on pollution.

By Christine Milne

Sitting in the Senate in recent weeks, I have reflected on the complete discord between the dinosaurs of the Parliament and the rest of Australia.

Australians want to address global warming. They don't want a future of mega-fires, floods and heatwaves. Even some of the people who voted for Tony Abbott want to see action, but they were lied to. The emissions trading scheme has worked, it has reduced carbon pollution very cheaply.

As the parliamentary debate ground on, just a few hundred metres away on parliament's lawns I met with a group of dynamic young people who had gathered, in the frosty Canberra winter, to protest Tony Abbott's denial of global warming.

Young people get it. Farmers and fishers get it. Parents and grandparents get it. Scientists get it. Outside of the parliament, and all around the world, people understand that global warming is accelerating and they understand the urgency of doing something about it. 

The repeal of our price on carbon pollution will be remembered as a monumental blunder in an era of dangerous climate change. It will be remembered in just a few short years as a massive blow to Australia's standing in the world, our own way of life and the competitiveness of our economy. 

The repeal of our emissions trading scheme was a tragic day for Australia, but also the planet. I admit I am devastated. It was a massive blow to jobs, a massive blow to solar and wind energy, a massive blow to our kids and grandkids who will live on a planet permanently depleted by global warming.

But my message to everyone who cares about global warming is to say: yes, this is a massive blow, but we don't have time to mourn. We must campaign to make the big polluters pay for global warming and to restore a price on pollution.

Of course, history will judge Tony Abbott harshly for his denial of global warming.  He has said to the Australian people: you must pay for the costs of global warming - the big polluters will get off scot free.

Australians stand to lose their jobs and livelihoods because of global warming. Tony Abbott has just torn down the cheapest and most effective way for Australia to reduce our pollution. 

What's more, tearing down our clean energy laws will facilitate Tony Abbott's brutal budget. $18 billion has been torn out of the pockets of Australians and given back to Clive Palmer, Gina Rinehart and the big end of town.

The Greens will lead a campaign to restore a price on pollution because it is not enough to be judged well by history. We have to take action now. We have to push back against those who would have us fail.

It's important that we think about the dislocation of the people of Kiribati and our other island neighbours, Aussie farmers struggling with drought and poverty, families' homes destroyed by extreme fire, flood and storms, the majesty of our forests, rivers and beautiful natural places.

When need to we step back from Tony Abbott's trite three-word slogans about axing the tax and lies about power prices to think about the things that matter, it is clear we can never give up.

Everyone from our leading scientists, to expert economists and insurers keep telling us that the longer we take to bring down pollution the greater the costs will be in lives, jobs and precious natural places lost.

Tony Abbott and Clive Palmer have once again sided with the big end of town, and made sure it will be the rest of us that pay, now and into the future. Mr Palmer's Queensland Nickel company carbon pollution price bill was over $8 million last year. Now the mining billionaire won't pay a cent.

They want you to pay, our children to pay, the environment to pay, for their destruction and greed.

Yes, they are on the wrong side of history. But that is not enough. We know that our community supports strong action on global warming, and now we will have to fight for it again.

Tony Abbott and his fossil fuel vested interests have shown they will do anything to cling to their outdated dig it up and burn it mentality. They'll ignore all of the evidence, they'll tell any lie, and they'll jeopardise our long term future for short term profits.

The campaign to vigorously address global warming, to restore a price on pollution, and to make sure Tony Abbott is a one-term Prime Minister starts now.

Australian Greens
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