It’s ten years since Adam Bandt was elected to the House of Representatives and the Greens formed a minority government with Labor. Looking back on the decade, the lesson from 2010 is clear: when people put the Greens in power, we make change happen.
By Adam Bandt
I’m writing to you from lockdown once again, but this time with a twist. I’m participating in the country’s first attempt at a virtual Parliament, and so far, so good! As you all know, the Greens have opposed the Liberal/Labor agreements to cancel Parliament and we have been calling on the government to find a COVID-safe way of sitting. For everyone else, 2020 has been a year of online meetings and workarounds, and politicians shouldn’t get special treatment. I’m hopeful that this week is the first step of bringing the government into the 21st century, so that democracy isn’t a victim of the pandemic and Parliament continues to meet in person and online.
There’s a lot of challenges we face with this pandemic. Zoom shouldn’t be one of them.
Marking 10 years since the Greens shared power
10 years ago, Australians elected a House and Senate with no single party in the majority and I was elected to the seat of Melbourne. As an amazing team made history in Melbourne, winning the Greens’ first lower house seat in a general election, we changed the numbers and that changed the country. The Greens used our power to take climate action and fight inequality. We got dental into Medicare for kids, made Parliament more democratic and put a price on pollution.
Indeed, in recent political history, there is one undeniable fact: the only time climate pollution has meaningfully come down is when the Greens shared power.
A lot has changed since 2010, but some things remain the same. As Liberal and Labor rush once more to give tax cuts to millionaires while embracing coal and gas, it is clear that getting Greens into power is the pathway to change. The Coalition are climate criminals and must be booted out, but today’s Labor will only act if the Greens are there to keep them on track.
Our movement’s leadership is just as vital as it was 10 years ago. We are facing three crises in this country: an inequality crisis, the climate crisis and now a COVID-induced economic crisis. The path to progress is to kick the conservatives out and give the Greens the power to make the changes we need to tackle these crises.
As this pandemic rolls on, the major parties have forgotten the climate crisis. But the climate emergency isn’t staying at home – it’s continuing its devastating impact just as the models have predicted. Right now over 500 wildfires are burning across the United States, with over 100,000 evacuating their homes. On our shores, families are still struggling to rebuild after the Black Summer bushfires that were extinguished only a few months ago.
Gas is a fossil fuel, and whether burnt or leaked, it is a key driver of climate change. Yet the Liberals and Labor have forgotten the climate-fuelled bushfires that devastated our country last summer as they move to burn more toxic fossil fuels that warm our planet. Scott Morrison has even put a gas executive at the head of the National Covid-19 Commission, which has recommended cutting back environmental protections and unlocking (you guessed it) more gas.
We’re already in the middle of a huge crisis and we don’t need to make the climate crisis worse – especially given that solutions exist in renewable energy, which is cheaper and cleaner than coal, gas and oil. We could be supercharging our recovery from Covid-19 with massive investments in renewable energy production, whilst simultaneously combating the climate crisis.
The Greens are showing that we have the best plan to respond to this crisis, and the lesson from 2010 is that when people put the Greens in power, we make change happen.
Hero image: Julian Meehan.