Helen Haines delivered a speech in Parliament written by young people in Indi on Monday, expressing their fear and anger over inaction on climate change.
The speech delivered by the Independent Federal Member for Indi was developed as part of a campaign to bring the voices of young people to Parliament and increase the representation of diverse groups, run by Raise Our Voice Australia. More than 60 MPs and Senators are taking part in the campaign.
The Indi Youth Advisory Panel, made up of young people aged between 14 and 24 from all corners of Indi, wrote the speech.
“I was proud to read a speech written by young people in my electorate in Parliament today, to express their raw emotion and ensure they were heard,” Dr Haines said.
“It was confronting for me to read these words, and that is part of what makes it so important for them to be heard – young people in regional Australia are scared and want action on climate change, and the people in power need to pay attention.”
The speech shared the story of 16 year old Rhia, who attended school in Mount Beauty during the bushfires, not knowing if their home would still be standing at the end of the day.
“As young people some of our earliest memories surround the impacts of climate change, with extreme temperatures provoking catastrophic weather events,” the young people wrote.
“We are facing yet another summer, scared of a day when the wind is in the wrong direction, or the temperature is one degree too high. We need to reach net zero emissions yesterday.”
The speech expressed desperation and a call for urgent action.
“You say it is too complex for us to understand, but it is really quite simple: we need policy changes and we need them now, because we are staring down the barrel of our future.” the speech by the young people of Indi said.
Dr Haines read the speech by the young people of Indi on the same day she seconded the Climate Change Bill introduced by the Member for Warringah Zali Steggall, calling for the target for Net Zero emissions by 2050 to be put into legislation. Dr Haines also made amendments to the Bill to protect regional Australia.
The Climate Change Bill introduced to Parliament on Monday includes a regional economic safeguard mechanism, that requires the new Climate Commission to make sure that regional Australia secures an equitable share of the economic benefits of a net zero transition, inserted by Dr Haines.
It also includes a regions-first clause that requires the Climate Commission to implement a strategy to maximise the economic benefits for rural and regional Australia in the transition to net zero.
“In the speech I delivered today by the young people of Indi, they called for ‘ambitious policies that give us hope for our future’ and that is what I came to Canberra to do,” Dr Haines said.
“That is what my Australian Local Power Agency Bill is, it is what the Climate Change Bill is – ambitious policies that give hope for the future. At every chance I look for opportunity, for solutions, for a way forward.
“What we have seen from the Nationals is that despite eight years in Government, they have no vision for the future except subsidised coal mining.
“We need to take action on climate change and we need to do it in a way that benefits regional Australia, that gives our young people a future they can look forward to with optimism instead of fear. That’s what I am working towards and what I will hold the Government to deliver.”