Press Conference: Adam Bandt elected as Greens leader, kicks off fight for a Green New Deal
I want to acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Elders past, present and emerging, and I acknowledge that it's time we had treaties with our First Nations communities.
I also want to thank our emergency services, public servants, our community volunteers, who've all been working so hard to look after us over this terrible bushfire season, including
here in Canberra today, and also now looking after us with the coronavirus threat.
And I want to also acknowledge and thank the fantastic work of our former Leader Richard Di Natale. Richard, we are going to miss your courage and your commitment, and thank you for your years of service.
And I think it says a lot about your values Richard, that you have chosen, on your own terms, to step down to be with your boys as they move into their teenage years, and I think they're really going to appreciate having their dad around.
I want to congratulate my colleagues behind me for being elected to positions of leadership with us, and also to especially note Larissa Waters, who is going to be our Leader in the Senate and is going to do an amazing job, taking the fight up for a Green New Deal, and for everything the Greens believe in to all of the other parties in the Senate.
And lastly I want to thank my colleagues for the incredible trust they have placed in me. I want them to know it's something I won't take for granted and I will spend every waking moment repaying that trust.
A couple of weeks ago when I dropped my kids off at childcare, the air was so dangerous that the warning on my phone showed someone wearing a gas mask.
Summer is going from a time to relax to being a time to where people fear their life and their health.
People are angry and anxious because it is clear that the government does not have the climate emergency under control and the government has no plan to get it under control.
But people are also anxious and angry because in this country, the basics of life are no longer guaranteed.
Go to TAFE, go to university, study hard and you can find yourself underemployed in a job with insecure hours low wages. Get yourself a job and you can find yourself unable to afford a house because the government has rigged the market against you.
We are becoming a country where even if you do the things that everyone has asked of you, you are no longer guaranteed a good life. We are facing a climate emergency, a jobs crisis, an inequality crisis and the government’s only answer is to shrug and say ‘well, get used to it, because this is the new normal’.
Well, I refuse to adapt to kids wearing gas masks. I refuse to accept a society where people put off having children because they are feeling so insecure about their jobs and their life. I refuse to accept people living below the poverty line in a country as wealthy as ours. And I refuse to accept the dismal standard of this government led by Scotty from Marketing, whose love of coal has contributed to these fires that we're seeing at the moment and the climate emergency we are facing. And I refuse to accept the dismal standard of the Labor so-called opposition, who chooses the middle of bushfires to celebrate coal, and who votes with the Liberals to give tax cuts to millionaires.
We are a smart and wealthy country and if we have the guts to take on the big corporations and the weak politicians they have in their pocket, we can solve these crises. We need a Green New Deal.
A Green New Deal is a government-led plan of investment and action to build a clean economy and a caring society. The two elements of a Green New Deal – government taking the lead to create new jobs and industries, and universal services to ensure no-one is left behind – are the values I have been
fighting for my whole adult life.
I joined the Labor Party at high school, but left in university because Labor started putting up fees for education, and putting people into so much debt that it was inconsistent with my values. It meant that people like my father, who was the first person in his family to go to university were going to face barriers that no one should have to face.
As a lawyer, I fought big corporations on behalf of clothing outworkers and represented firefighters and even coal workers who were battling with privatisation. And in my seat of Melbourne we have brought people together, from public housing to young families and that is what a Green New Deal will do as well, because it provides a vision of the country that takes on the challenges that we are facing that everyone is able to
We’re going to talk a bit more about the Green New Deal and how it addresses the climate crisis, the jobs crisis and the inequality crisis over the coming months, but let me just give you 3 things at the moment, that I’ll be fighting for as part of a Green New Deal:
- First, is get dental into Medicare. That is unfinished business for us in the power-sharing parliament back in 2010 we managed to get dental into Medicare for kids, and we need to do it for everyone across the country.
- Second. Make education genuinely free. And the first cab off the rank for us at the moment is going to be targeting those fees that people who are sending their kids to public schools are being forced to pay. Sometimes they're called voluntary feeds, but there's nothing voluntary about them. Our public schools are under-funded and they shouldn't be dipping into parent's pockets. We'll be fighting to make sure public schools are properly funded so that no one pays a cent in fees when they send their kids to public schools.
- The third - a manufacturing renaissance in this country. I want Australia to be the renewable energy superpower that people bring their businesses to from overseas because we can provide them with cheap, clean electricity as we phase out coal. Let’s increase our capacity to process a lot of our minerals here, so that we can sell – using clean energy, so that we can sell the rest of the world, the things that they will need in a zero carbon economy and let's export our renewable energy directly via undersea cable or via green hydrogen. I want Australia to make things in the new economy and with a Green New Deal we can.
Let me finish by reminding you that the Greens get things done. There is one unarguable fact in recent Australian history. The only time pollution has been cut in this country is when Greens shared power. We worked with Labor, worked with the independents to cut pollution. And we can do it again.
Right here in Canberra at the moment, you have Greens working with Labor to transform the ACT and have it running on 100% renewables. And the Greens are the only ones who can fix the problems because we’re the only ones not taking money from those that are causing the problems.
Finally, I want to just speak directly to young people. Especially the hundreds of thousands of 16 and 17 year olds who are gonna be voting for the first time at the next election.
The Greens understand that you have the most to lose from the climate emergency and from our unequal economy. You are right to feel that you are getting screwed over from every angle by a government that is criminally burning your future. But now is not the time for despair. We don't have the luxury of despair. Now is the time for action and to fight.
So let me finish by saying to everyone who is feeling anxious and angry at the moment: if you are sick of this terrible government’s thoughts and prayers and you want action, then come to our Green New Deal website [www.gnd.org.au], sign up to find out about the amazing actions that we are going to have rolling out across the country over the next few months and join this fight for our future.
Thanks very much.