We’ve played a crucial role in improving laws, passing positive motions and helping to improve the lives of people who need our assistance.
By Senator Richard Di Natale
2017 has been a big year for the Greens in the Parliament. We've played a crucial role in improving laws, passing positive motions and helping to improve the lives of people who need our assistance.
One of the proudest moments I've had in the Parliament in 2017 was in the weeks before the winter recess when we made a genuine difference to the lives of terminally ill people by overturning regulations that make it difficult for patients to access medical cannabis. This achievement was a clear example of what is possible when politicians work for the community, and it was only possible because you elected Greens to make the case on your behalf. As a doctor whose motivation is compassion, knowing my colleagues and I were doing something that would add to the quality of life of terminally ill patients took me back to why I became a politician in the first place. I wanted to make a difference, so for me this was a personally very satisfying moment.
Another unifying moment was when members from all sides of the Parliament came together in the Senate to vote for the Greens' bill to establish a committee of inquiry into the powerful and greedy banking sector. Our treasury spokesperson, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, has championed this and his work has now culminated in an inquiry that is being established only for the second time since federation.
I'm incredibly proud of how we've pushed against the government's costly and dangerous plebiscite on marriage equality. This public vote will set a dangerous precedent. It not only challenges the integrity of the legislative process, but it also threatens the wellbeing of many Australians. I've despaired as the government pursued such a harmful and divisive policy, but we've worked closely with the LGBTIQ community and opposed this harmful plebiscite every step of the way. I was proud to stand with my Senate colleagues and vote it down. And, as we stare down the barrel of a ludicrous postal 'survey', we'll be doing our best to knock this off in the High Court. If we can't stop it in the courts, we'll take to the streets and fight tooth and nail for a YES vote and, in turn, have marriage equality achieved before the end of 2017.
Celebrating two incredible legacies
There's no sugar coating it – losing Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters from the Parliament was incredibly difficult. They're two fantastic individuals, and they leave a big hole in our party room. Scott and Larissa have been two of the brightest stars in our movement, and their work speaks for itself.
Larissa has been a champion for the environment, for women, and one of the loudest voices of opposition against the Adani coal mine that threatens our precious reef and climate. When I talk to the amazing women running for the Greens in the upcoming Queensland state election, they tell me that they were inspired to put their hand up because of Larissa and her work. As we see more and more women in our Parliaments, we can look on with pride knowing that their presence is part of Larissa's legacy.
Scott has been a force of nature in the parliament for almost ten years. His activism has spoken to voters from right across the spectrum. He's one of those rare voices in the Parliament that commands almost universal respect. And it's fitting, given his tremendous legacy on nuclear disarmament, that one of his last acts as a Senator was representing the Greens at the United Nations as they negotiated a treaty banning nuclear weapons. The anti-nuclear movement is where Scott's political career started, and his work has meant so much to so many. I can't thank my colleagues enough, and I can't wait to see what their next contribution to public life will look like.
Now it's up to us to finish the work they started. It's time to look to the future…
The campaigns to come
A few weeks ago, I took my kids up the Great Barrier Reef because I'm worried that the reef is quickly disappearing. I'm worried they will never own their own home, and that they will leave university with more debt than they can pay back and no pathway into the job market. And I know that these fears are being felt right across the community. These burdens are reminders that young people are being screwed over by a powerful system stacked against them.
We will continue to campaign to get big money out of politics, so that our democracy works for all people, not just the rich and powerful. It's a plan that says our planet is precious and needs to be preserved for the next generation. It's a plan that says drug addiction is a health condition, not a criminal issue. It's a plan that says aspiring to get an education or learn a trade should not shackle a person with debt that they can't pay off. It's a plan that says love is love and all love is equal.
An election could be called in the next 12 months, and I need your help and support to make sure we have our best campaign ever. Our plan will only happen with a strong Greens team in the parliament. I can't wait to make 2018 the year we make it happen.