Page 1969 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 June 2022
many policy areas that were simply impossible and intractable under the former coalition government. New doors have opened up, and we see opportunities for positive progress.
There is a reality, I think, that for many people in Australia the buoyant mood comes primarily from the fact that the egregious Morrison government has been removed. People are just relieved to be free of that compassionless, conceited government. It was out of touch with what Australians cared about. That is why we saw a pretty light election policy platform put forward by federal Labor. But I also acknowledge there are some real differences between the previous and new governments, from the big-picture 43 per cent by 2030 emissions reduction target, the prioritising of a federal integrity commission, and the scrapping of the cashless debit card, right down to the deeply personal joy expressed by the Murugappan family on finally going home to Biloela. These policy differences are meaningful. They have real impacts on people’s lives, and I will not deny our appreciation for these significant changes in direction. Yet we in the Greens, like so many other people who voted in this election, cannot overlook the fact that much of what Labor proposes manifestly does not go far enough, or is disappointingly similar to coalition policy.
I will give you a key example. We must stop building new coal and gas mines that will continue to fuel climate change. This is arguably the number one action we need to take for a safe climate for future generations. As a first step, stop doing any further harm. Yet it is quite clear that there will be no change in this area. I wonder if this is an example of the perfect being the enemy of the good: keep building more coal and gas mines. The International Energy Agency has stated unequivocally that there can be no new coal, oil or gas if we are to stay below the 1.5-degree threshold of warming. This is a critical policy direction—critical for the future of our planet—and Labor continues to shut its eyes to this inconvenient truth. Rather than being honest to coal and gas mining communities, and pledging to support them through a transition, Labor is promising to open new mines and gas fields. It is selling out future generations in the worst way and leaving them a terrible climate change legacy.
Nor does the Labor government propose a different direction on asylum seeker policy. Australia is renowned worldwide for its harsh and inhumane approach to people fleeing from oppression and brutality. Under this government, it is set to stay the same. Asylum seeker policy has been a shameful political race to the bottom over many years. It is as if governments have become inured and hardened, and have ultimately given up on the notion that asylum seekers could be treated humanely. That does not need to be the case. We could be a beacon of hope and humanity.
Lastly, I touch on an issue that we have discussed regularly in this chamber—an issue where federal government policy clearly has an impact on residents of the ACT, specifically its most vulnerable. One of the best ways the new federal Labor government could genuinely help vulnerable Canberrans to lift people out of poverty would be to raise the rate of income support for people on a range of government income supports. This is something that the Greens have committed to. I think that all of us in this chamber agree that we want to see that change from the federal government because it is so significant, overall, for the cost-of-living pressures facing the most vulnerable. So I find it troubling that it appears that the federal government