On her first day back in the NSW Parliament after the election, Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown has called on the government to act urgently on climate change.
Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (16:51): I thank the good people of the electorate of Newtown for returning me to this place and allowing me to continue to represent them. I acknowledge that this place and the electorate of Newtown sits on Gadigal land and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging. Excuse me for skipping the detailed thankyous, the niceties and formalities that may be protocol when a member is re‑elected to this place, but my constituents know that we no longer have time to follow the usual protocols. We cannot wait for current or future governments to take the warnings seriously when it comes to the climate crisis that we all face. It is time for us to stop waiting for weak oppositions that continue to disappoint us and for governments to take the action we need on climate. Now is the time to act. We have lost the chance for an orderly transition on climate action, and the good people of the electorate of Newtown know this all too well. They know that this is an emergency that can no longer wait.
Those in power for decades knew they were creating a catastrophe, yet they have continued to approve the opening of coalmines and the building of more polluting toll roads and failed to show the leadership to move us beyond zero emissions. We simply do not have the luxury of ignoring the climate crisis any longer. We do not need to slow emissions; we need to stop them. This means we cannot burn more coal, drill for more gas and clear more forests. Those with the power to act have not listened. It is time to listen to the true leaders in our community. It is time to listen to the voices on the streets and the communities who are leading the fight, breaking the rules and forcing those in power to finally listen to the experts and act. It is time to follow the lead of the student climate strikers, the seed mob and the climate activists who occupied Federal Parliament. It is time to follow the lead of the Knitting Nannas and all of those who have taken non-violent, direct action to stand up for their local communities, for our humanity and for our planet.
To those who have engaged in civil disobedience and put climate crisis front and centre on the agenda I say join the extinction rebellion, because we can no longer wait for governments to act to address the serious climate change crisis that has emerged. To all of those people who have been shouting in the streets and standing there in protest, I hear you and The Greens hear you, and we will continue to give you a voice in this place. Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg began walking out of school on Fridays and sparked a global movement. She said to the British Parliament: Around the year 2030, 10 years 252 days and 10 hours away from now, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it. That is unless in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO2 emissions by at least 50%.
Just yesterday a United Nations biodiversity report said that one million species would be lost, many in the coming decade. Children and teenagers are not protesting and striking from school because they think it is fun; they are doing it because they need us to act so that they have a future. I appreciate that to many people this might sound extreme and scary, and like something that is better to ignore, but if we ignore the irreversible damage of climate change it will mean that we, as a species, will no longer be able to function as we can function now. To the Extinction Rebellion movement and the amazing, brave activists who are standing up and using non-violent direct action to disrupt our society to make the people in power listen, I say, "All power to you. Whether you are a student striker or a part of the Extinction Rebellion, I will be in this place, standing up for you, putting your voice in this Chamber and making sure that we say that it is time to face our fears, time to rebel and time to take the action we need to take on climate change." To all of those members who think that it is fun to support coal mines but take a selfie with a student striker, I urge you to heed the words of Greta:
We children have not taken to the streets for you to take selfies with us, and tell us that you really admire what we do. We are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis.