Jordon Steele-John: Why I Said The Major Parties Are No Better Than A Bunch Of Arsonists
We are on track for at least four degrees of global warming by the end of the century.
In real terms, that means a genuine threat to our communities, the loss of our precious places and more extreme natural disasters; a permanent change to what life is like on our planet.
As I write this I can almost hear the conservative commentators cheer led by Prime Minister Morrison admonishing me that “now is not the time”.
To them I say this: Our communities are burning, climate change is driving these fires and the major parties are actively contributing to the problem. As an MP it is my responsibility to call them out.
If we don’t talk about the realities of the climate crisis then how can we work out a solution together?
If we don’t talk about those realities now, when we are feeling the impacts hardest, then when do we talk about it?
The tut-tutting that's emerged over the last couple of days at the Greens, for telling the truth about the causes of this existential threat we’re all facing, is grounded in the same false equivalence that the major parties have been using as cover for decades. It is a false equivalence that is part of the same old-school of thinking that has stifled climate policy in Australia for well over a decade.
There are not two sides to climate change; there is just the reality, and the major parties aren’t listening.
What there are two sides to is the political debate about climate in Australia. On one side there is the Australian Greens, who've listened to the science and the community and have set our policies accordingly. On the other side of that political debate are the major parties, who are ignoring the science to benefit their corporate donors and their own post-parliamentary careers.
Every time someone pretends there is any kind of moral equivalence between the two sides of that debate, they play directly into the hands of those same corporations who are leveraging obscene profits from maintaining the status quo.
There is a particularly unique level of absurdity when journalists and commentators attempt to police things the Greens have said in Parliament, when the Deputy Prime Minister is on national radio saying that anyone who talks about climate change -- almost 80 percent of Australians -- must be a “raving inner-city lunatic”; or when Barnaby Joyce links fluctuations in the sun’s magnetic fields to climate change and says two people tragically killed by bushfires in his own electorate "most likely voted for the Green party”. Or when Senator Gerrard Rennick claims the Bureau of Meteorology has altered its own records on climate.
That's where the offence lies in this debate. It doesn't lie in anything the Greens have said; it lies in the things that the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Joyce and Senator Rennick have said, and it lies in the timid acquiescence of the Labor Party to this government's climate-denying agenda. Those who seek to silence us are asking us to accept the muting blanket of civility because conflict makes them uncomfortable.
If the major parties want civility then they should get their act together.
Start listening to the science, start listening to the warnings from the scientists and start listening to young people as they rise up, rightfully demanding stronger action on the climate crisis.
That's how to achieve civility into this debate: by telling the truth, by taking the action that science is telling us we need to take and by making sure we help people through the inevitable massive transitions that will need to occur if we're going to avoid reducing our planet to an uninhabitable wasteland.
Instead of venting faux outrage, why don’t we expend our energy on those billions of people in the world struggling in poverty and impacted by the climate crisis, including those communities here in Australia who are suffering right now.
I say to the major parties: If you want civility, start acting like you deserve it.