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Speech: Labor, Liberal, and climate disasters

Speeches in Parliament
Mehreen Faruqi 2 Dec 2021

It is Australia's shame that the Liberals are propping up coal, oil and gas by funnelling endless taxpayer dollars to these dirty industries. The world is moving away from digging up fossil fuels, but the Liberals are pouring tens of millions of dollars of public money in, to frack the Beetaloo basin and plunge us further into the climate crisis. The Liberals live in some parallel universe where there are no consequences for mining and burning fossil fuels—or you have your heads buried in the sand because it fills the coffers of those who line your pockets with cash; or you just don't care, because you have the luxury of being able to afford to protect yourselves from the deadly consequences that marginalised communities will have to face. Pacific islanders don't have that luxury, as their homelands sink under water. The people on the subcontinent, where I come from, don't have that luxury, as thousands die every year due to brutal climate-induced heatwaves. First Nations people don't have that luxury, as you destroy their land and water. Traditional owners do not consent to fracking on their lands. The Beetaloo basin's traditional owners have already condemned the Morrison government for handing out millions to gas companies. Tax dodging companies, big donors and billionaires will profit from the destruction of First Nations lands—all this, while local communities are struggling for basic infrastructure, like health and housing. And what for? For the profits of climate-wrecking corporations.

Seventy per cent of the Northern Territory's land is earmarked for fracking. If the Beetaloo basin is opened up and fracked, Australia's emissions will rise massively. And this will be a ticking climate bomb. This is ecocide. The International Energy Agency has warned us: to reach net zero by 2050, there should be no more coal, oil or gas projects.

The Greens will not stand by and watch the Liberal-Nationals destroy country and plunge us faster into a climate emergency. We know that Australia must take responsibility for our role in the climate crisis, with a serious plan to bring down Australia's carbon emissions. And that means no more coal and gas.

And which side is the so-called opposition party taking?

In August 2021 the Morrison government, supported by Labor, voted to give $15 million of public money to oil and gas corporations to open up the Beetaloo. No amount of actual science or the climate disasters that we have been witnessing in our own backyard—the fires, the floods the heatwaves—nothing seems to convince the Liberals and Labor that digging up fossil fuels is dangerous in the extreme. It is killing us. It is destroying our livelihoods, our communities and our planet.

The Beetaloo slush fund stinks of corruption and will be deadly for our climate. This gas rort has already given millions to Minster Taylor's mates. Empire Energy was handed $21 million to drill at three sites in Beetaloo, despite still waiting on environmental approvals from the Northern Territory government. Surely Labor can see the problems here? Surely Labor can see the stench of corruption, the influence of big corporate money here? It's clear that the Liberals don't give a damn about climate change—or democracy for that matter—but I expected better from Labor. Sometimes you do wonder why you expect better from Labor, because you are let down every single time. If you don't want to stop fracking the Beetaloo basin and if you can't support an end to coal and gas, then you don't really want to tackle the climate crisis. All the rest are just empty words. It's all mere theatre.

In the last minute that I have, I do want to wish everyone a restful, rejuvenating and relaxing holiday season. It has been a very tough two years. I hope that we can all enjoy a little break with our loved ones. Happy festivus everyone!

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