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Speech: A disproportionate punishment for climate activism

Speeches in Parliament
Mehreen Faruqi 23 Nov 2021

I rise to speak to the matter of urgency before us. Just today we have received news that Sergio, a 22-year-old climate activist in New South Wales, has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for participating in a non-violent direct action targeting the coal industry. Twelve months in prison—what an outrageously severe and disproportionate punishment! What an appalling message this sends to climate activists and those of us who are fighting for a healthy planet. The real criminals are the fossil fuel companies who are killing our planet, not those who are trying to save it. The Morrison government are the real criminals who refuse to tackle the climate crisis, not those who want a future for all of us. The real criminals are running amok, spruiking dirty coal and gas. They are the ones condemning us to catastrophic climate change. Australia's insatiable appetite for coal and gas is bringing our Pacific neighbours even closer to the climate precipice, yet Scott Morrison refuses to act. I can't say I'm surprised. This Prime Minister is someone who brought a lump of coal into parliament. This is a prime minister who was dragged kicking and screaming to Glasgow, where Australia actively sabotaged climate action. I am angry that we have a prime minister who is happy waving around a glossy pamphlet with a pathetic policy which is more of a plan to fuel the climate crisis than one to tackle it. And I am furious that we still have a government ideologically rooted in colonial power hell bent on destroying nature and greedy for accumulating resources and wealth by hook or by crook.

We know the Liberals are pathetic on climate justice, but if Labor really cares about climate change, it should join the Greens and offer a bolder alternative vision. It should commit to a 75 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030. It should join us in stopping the dodgy climate-destroying project in the Beetaloo basin and prioritise the concerns of First Nations communities, because we will not have climate justice without First Nations justice. Anything less is mere theatre.

Change will come, and it will come from the people. They know we must quit coal and gas. They know the Beetaloo basin and Scarborough gas projects are ticking climate bombs. They know the Morrison government must be kicked out. And they know that the Greens in shared power will push Labor further and faster.


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