Greens Brunswick MP Tim Read identifies climate action priority in first speech

February 13, 2019 at 12:54 pm Leave a comment

Greens MP for Brunswick Tim Read with supporters due to make first speech

The new Greens MP for Brunswick, Tim Read, identified climate action as one of the priority areas he wants to pursue in his first speech to the Victorian Parliament. Tim Read was elected at the November 2018 state election to join Greens colleagues Ellen Sandell (Melbourne) and Sam Hibbins (Prahran) in the Legislative Assembly.

Samantha Ratnam was elected to the Legislative Council, the only Greens MP elected to that house due to tight cross-preferencing by minor parties organised by Glen Druery (the Preference Whisperer).

Climate change action highlighted by Tim Read in first speech

Tim Read highlighted climate change, drugs and crime, and obesity as important areas he will tackle as an MP.

“I will focus now on what I see as some of Victoria’s biggest public health challenges: heatwaves and climate change, our approach to drugs and crime, and diabetes.

“Today’s young people are rightly angry about the lack of action on the biggest threat to their future: climate change. They look to government to protect us and our world now and in the future. That bushfire 10 years ago that was on a 46 degree day and that tragically killed so many people who we remember today was preceded by a heatwave with three days in a row of temperatures above 43 degrees that probably killed more than twice as many people. The Chief Health Officer counted 374 extra deaths that week. In the 2014 heatwave another 167 extra deaths were counted.

In the last 12 months alone heatwaves killed up to a thousand people in the UK and more in Canada, Pakistan and India. Global warming is also turning cold, wet, mossy forests into fuel. Even forests that have never previously known fire are burning. That is why we are now losing thousand-year-old pines in the cool rainforests of Tasmania. That is why the forests of northern Canada regularly explode into flames.

I spent some of my childhood in a town in the forest in Canada and I remember the snow lasting well into spring. But in the spring of 2016 a firestorm destroyed a sizeable portion of a sub-Arctic town well north of where I had lived. Two-and-a-half-thousand homes were destroyed in Fort McMurray, Canada. It often snows at that time of year but not during the 2016 heatwave. That town sits near a vast oil deposit and many of those houses were built with money earned from extracting that oil, which ultimately became carbon pollution.

A Greens MP, Elizabeth May of the Canadian Greens, spoke about the connection between climate change and that fire, earning herself a rebuke from Prime Minister Trudeau for being tactless. But by then it was too late to talk about politeness and tact. It was already 10 years after Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, had told the world that decades of extracting and burning fossil fuels have heated our planet. Here in Victoria in 2016 we knew that brown coal was just as responsible for that fire in Canada as it is for the increasing frequency and worsening of fires here.

Powerful forces are giving us these firestorms, manipulating our weather, shifting our seasons and changing the very conditions of life in forests, farms, rivers, oceans and in our cities. And still, even now, Victorian furnaces burn tens of millions of tonnes of coal each year, 13 years after Al Gore’s film.

The government plans to get out of coal by 2048, but that is a leisurely pace that does not match the seriousness of the disasters we have had, let alone what is to come. 2048 is too late to stop burning coal.

We can do it in a decade and we can also cut emissions resulting from animal agriculture, from gas, emissions from transport and aviation and from the logging and burning of native forests, those wonderful stores of carbon and a clean water supply east of Melbourne. Victoria has stunning natural beauty and it is worth protecting. This challenge above all is what has propelled me into Parliament.”

Watch Tim Read’s entire first speech at his website.

New Labor MP for Northcote Kat Theophanous also highlights climate action

Lydia Thorpe, the Greens MP for Northcote elected in a by-election in 2017 failed to be re-elected. Labor candidate Kat Theophanus became the new MP for Northcote and also highlighted climate action for the climate emergency in her first speech.

“So for my young daughter who is in the gallery today and my second daughter in here with me I pledge to keep fighting for you to grow up without fear, without doubt, in safety and equality. I am part of a generation who are deeply troubled by our environmental challenges.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are facing a climate emergency and that the decisions we make today will shape the future we leave for our children and grandchildren.

Just a few months ago school students around the country gathered en masse to urge our leaders to take action to protect our climate. We should heed their call. Labor’s renewable energy target is ambitious and realistic. Our investments into wind and solar are already working to transition us to a clean economy.

But there is much more do to. Our forests and reserves, our unique plant and animal life, our waterways and our green spaces are assets that we cannot and should not take for granted. We have a moral responsibility to future generations to ensure not just that these are protected but that they thrive. Labor recognises that the interests of the environment and our working communities are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, they are inextricably linked.

We recognise that with the right policy mix we can put sustainability at the very heart of thriving economies. I believe that getting this balance right is absolutely crucial to the future of this state and that only Labor can prevent the pendulum swinging between corporate greed and heavy-handed idealism.

Watch Kat Theophanous inaugural address at her Facebook Page.

Entry filed under: Climate Emergency, news, Vote Climate. Tags: , , .

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