Senator Hanson-Young Senate Speech on Climate Change:
Hanson Young: I move: That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Agriculture (Senator McKenzie) to a question without notice asked by Senator Hanson-Young today relating to climate change and drought.
Yesterday I was in this place and I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Cormann, about the impact of drought on farming communities and the fact that building dams were not a policy that would help the struggling farmers today or, indeed, help the river system in the months and years to come.
Today I asked the Minister representing the Minister for water and drought, Senator McKenzie, whether this government will finally accept the link between climate change and drought. Yet we did not get a straight answer. What we have seen is that this government continues to have its head buried in the sand when it comes to climate change, when it comes to drought and when it comes to the emergency that we are in. The only thing this government wants to do is tell people, ‘Pray for rain, and we’ll build some dams so that next time there’s a drought we might be okay.’ It is not a plan for the future and it is not a plan for struggling farmers and our struggling river system today.
The reason we are in a crisis in the Murray-Darling Basin is threefold: corporate greed, people taking too much water out of the system and leaving none for anybody else; cotton, because we shouldn’t be spending all of our water making cotton seasons happen all year round, every year, in the middle of a drying climate; and, of course, climate change. What is making climate change worse is coal—coal, coal, coal. So if you want to know why the Murray-Darling Basin is so stuffed, it’s climate change, it’s coal and it’s corporate greed. These are the reasons our farmers are struggling, and this government has its head in the sand. They’ve got no idea what to do because they have no plan for dealing with climate change. And if you don’t have a plan for climate change, you don’t have a plan for managing the drought. That’s the truth.
It’s just unthinkable that this government continues to pretend to farming communities and the Australian community more broadly that there is nothing they can do. They are turning a blind eye to the obvious. The science is telling us very clearly that we have to get serious about reducing carbon pollution—get out of coal—if we are to do anything about reducing the impact of dangerous global warming. That means if we want to stop future droughts, not just building dams but actually stopping climate change; that is what will help.