Helen Haines MP has congratulated a 23-year-old Sydney student for bringing a history-making climate emergency petition to parliament.

The Independent Federal Member for Indi on Tuesday joined cross-benchers Zali Steggall (Warringah), Andrew Wilkie (Clark), Rebekha Sharkie (Mayo) and Adam Bandt (Melbourne) to acknowledge Noah Bell’s initiative that attracted 404,538 signatories in just a few weeks.

“It’s fantastic that Noah’s stepped forward and brought more than 404,000 Australians with him,” Dr Haines said.

“We should never underestimate the voices of the people.

“A petition is a traditional means of bringing these voices to parliament – in this case, in a contemporary way, with an e-petition, which is now record-breaking.

“As a rural Australian representing a rural electorate, I know that if we’d acted 30 years ago we’d not be facing the climate emergency that we’re facing today.

“There’s no sector more vulnerable than the agricultural sector. No Australians are more vulnerable right now than rural and regional Australians who are facing unprecedented drought and whose agricultural enterprises are at great risk.

“I congratulate Noah and my colleague Zali Steggall MP (Warringah) for her stewardship of this petition.

“I put it to this Parliament – of which I’m a member – get out of your corners, come together, act collaboratively and do something real, effective and scientifically-proven to address the climate emergency.”

Ms Steggall said cross-bench members in the past two sitting weeks had again led the climate debate, calling the government and parliament to lead planning for agriculture, transport, health and environment so that the country can develop an effective response to climate change.

“This petition was started by a 23-year-old,” she said.

“Noah is the future of Australia, representing our youth – engaged and aware and frustrated by our lack of action.

“The current government needs to be aware that the young people of today, like Noah, and the voters of the future, want us to act.”

Mr Bell said he started the petition “with increasing frustration that this government in the face of increasing evidence has refused to act on the climate emergency”.

“Ignoring advice of our government departments, wise academics, scientists and the people, I call on the government to act on the science, to declare a climate emergency, and change the Australia works in the future,” he said.

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