Leader of the Australian Greens: I rise today to speak in support of this proposal. Let me begin by discussing what is at stake here. We are blessed to have one of the most incredible natural wonders on earth off the coast of Queensland: the Great Barrier Reef. This incredible jewel, this natural wonder, the only living organism that can be seen from space, is a magical underwater world that has brought so much pleasure to people not just here in Australia but right around the world. Indeed, it is a source of wonder and delight and something that we should all feel very privileged to have right here on our doorstep.
Yet here we are, in an age of catastrophic global warming, at a time when we know the window for action is closing, with a proposal for a jobs-destroying, polluting, climate-killing coal-mine in Queensland that we know not only will spell disaster for the jobs that rely on the Great Barrier Reef but, indeed, may mean the end of the Great Barrier Reef as we know it. I say to those people who have not seen what is going on right now in Queensland: go and see it with your own eyes. Last year, Senator Larissa Waters and I did that. We went to visit some of those northern reefs, and what you see there is what were once vibrant ecosystems transformed into underwater deserts. You see the corals, which once showed the greens and other incredible hues, completely wiped of all colour and all life and effectively transformed into an underwater desert of a sickly yellow in some parts and a ghostly white in other parts.
Faced with the prospect of losing this incredible natural wonder, something that we are custodians of and should be handing to future generations, we have a government that, instead of acting with urgency, is proposing to destroy the Great Barrier Reef. Today we see evidence of a massive cyclone descending on the Queensland coast. We are going to see more of them if the Carmichael mine goes ahead—more intense cyclones and more extreme weather. That is the cost of global warming. That is a scientific fact.
Government senators interjecting—
Senator DI NATALE: We have members of the coalition disputing what the science is telling us. The consequence of the Carmichael mine going ahead will be more intense cyclones and more extreme weather.
You would think that one thing this government would understand is the notion of jobs. There are 70,000 tourism jobs in Queensland, compared to 1,400 jobs in the mining industry if this project goes ahead. We know what the outcome should be. We are now seeing a second, unparalleled bleaching event further south in Queensland and we know that there is hardly a reef that is not affected between the cities of Townsville and Cairns. If $1 billion of taxpayer money goes towards this mine to build the rail to support digging that coal out of the ground and shipping it overseas—indeed, through the Great Barrier Reef—what this government is doing is scandalous and it will trigger the biggest protest movement of this decade.
We have had a lot of debate about the rule of law, but, if people did not stand up when the Franklin was about to be dammed, we would have lost one of this nation’s—indeed, the earth’s—most precious wild rivers. It was the brave action of many of those protesters, who stood up in defiance of the law, that helped to save the Franklin. We, together with people from right around the world, will make sure that we again commit to standing against this government and against its proposal to ensure that the Adani mine goes ahead. We say to financiers who are looking at this right now: get ready for the fight of your life because, if you are going to contribute money to this mine, you will be faced with a backlash not just from the Greens but from the entire Australian community.
Source Document from Chamber Senate on 27/03/2017 Item MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE – Mining, Great Barrier Reef Speaker :Di Natale, Sen Richard
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