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Climate Change (1)

November 28, 2019

I rise today to speak on a matter of great importance that is not receiving the attention it deserves from the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government. Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. Global warming is universal. It affects us all and, as a responsible globalist citizen, Australia must do its part to stem the effects of climate change. I'll be quite honest about this. I do not always agree with the language used in the discussions on climate change. I've witnessed plenty of emergencies in my time as a paediatrician. An emergency to me is a child with meningococcal septicaemia or a baby being born with a cord prolapse or a child with epiglottitis.

I do not believe that we are in a climate emergency as such but the situation is reaching a watershed, a very serious time, and the science is indisputable. Ecosystems are unravelling. The fact that in 2019 we've elected officials spouting nonsense and denying climate change is absolutely ridiculous. We need to listen to the science, and society should stop listening to the imbeciles who deny the science. It sickens me that we have these sorts of people elected from the fringes to places like this. They have no place here and they consistently prove they have very little to contribute to public life.

Climate change and global warming affect us all, from the farmers in rural and regional areas to those who live and work in our metropolitan hubs and along our coastline. The effects of global warming are indiscriminate and unrelenting. I cannot put it more succinctly than the World Wildlife Fund has: global warming is causing temperatures to increase, sea levels to rise, and more frequent and intense extreme weather events. These are indisputable facts supported by science and by the experts, not empty rhetoric from an unqualified and inexperienced individual.

I'm a lover of science. Scientific discoveries have provided amazing medical cures over the years. Without science we wouldn't have addressed the scourge of polio and we wouldn't have vaccines or eradicated smallpox. Science saves lives. Every major medical group across the country and internationally agrees that climate change is costing lives. Make no mistake about it, global warming is putting lives at risk. Rising sea levels are placing some of our near neighbours in the Pacific at risk. Weather events and extreme heatwaves can be fatal to many who are vulnerable in the community, and the collapse of ecosystems on land and in the water places essential resources such as our supply of food at risk. These are not doomsday scenarios; these are the reality we're faced with presently in 2019. Extreme heat is the cause of more than half of all the deaths from natural hazards. We know heatwaves are becoming more intense and prolonged as temperatures continue to rise—the very definition of global warming.

I'm a parent and grandparent. I know what we need to do and it saddens me we're not taking the necessary action to address climate change now. Once again, it is our children and our grandchildren who will inherit our problems, and we owe it to our future generations to take the necessary action now. It's unfair for middle-aged white men in suits—and I realise I fall within that category—to continue to ignore the science and place our children's and grandchildren's futures at risk. On one hand, my generation has benefited much from society. We've benefited from free tertiary education, stable economic growth, the ability to invest in and negatively gear investment properties, the ability to get a tax refund and imputed dividends. The next generation, on the other hand, are being treated poorly. They face stagnant wage growth, an overly expensive housing market and an increasing cost of living. All the white middle-aged men will criticise young people for supporting climate change policies and ordering smashed avo from a cafe on the weekend. We continue to make young people's lives more expensive and we continue to deny action on climate change, placing their futures at risk. I stand with the next generation in saying, 'OK Boomer.' If I can recognise our unfair treatment of the next generation, surely others can.

We need to stop trying to score political points around this discussion on climate change and take action now. The catastrophic events we're seeing in Australia this summer are evidence of that. We need to take action to address global warming, and I'm confident that we can do it in a way that has jobs and growth. (Time expired)