The campaign starts now: Sarah Hanson-Young

It’s been a busy year in Canberra and in South Australia, with environmental and sexism issues featuring prominently on the agenda.

By Senator Sarah Hanson-Young

It’s been a busy year in Canberra and in South Australia, where we’ve seen the Murray and the Great Australian Bight become core environmental issues that have dominated debates during both the state election and the Mayo by-election. South Australians have responded well to the Greens’ call to increase NewStart, our fight against tax cuts for the wealthy, and support our plans for World Heritage protection for the Great Australian Bight.  

I’ve taken part in Senate inquiries into the rorting in the Murray Darling Basin and the nuclear waste dump site selection process, and established an inquiry into the value of Australian content across television, film and music industries.  

We’ve also seen sexism and bullying in politics become part of a national debate, and the importance of treating people with respect and debating the issues, not resorting to personal attacks. 

Changing portfolios

In July I was given the key Greens portfolio of Environment. I’m honoured and ready for this new challenge.  

Action on climate change and protecting the environment and biodiversity have always been key issues for the Greens, and they are becoming more urgent as time goes on – especially as the Liberal and Labor parties further abandon the environment.  

The Greens are well placed to lead a shift in the conversation and push real action on climate change. Our work is now more important than ever, as anti-science, anti-planet conservative politicians deny the science and facts on global warming. Conviction and genuine leadership is needed. We are living in a time where our generation is the last line of defence in combating dangerous climate change. 

We must seize the opportunity to fight for action that protects the planet, and we know we all need a healthy environment to survive. We have a beautiful country and unique wildlife – why would we not want our grandchildren to witness Australia’s beautiful natural environment?

Standing up for the river

South Australians overwhelmingly believe there is not enough being done to save the Murray River, and they are right. We need more water coming down the river, not less.  

The odds are stacked against the river. The SA Liberal Government and Federal Liberal-National Government, along with the Murray Darling Basin Authority, are doing their best to throw off the South Australian Royal Commission.  

We had a win in the Parliament in February when the Greens worked with Labor and the crossbench to stop the Government from ripping 70 billion litres of water away from the environment and handing it to big corporate irrigators upstream. This win was celebrated across the Murray Darling Basin, where people are doing it tough and going without water for basic necessities like drinking and bathing, while corporate irrigators store more than their fair share. 

However, after the vote, the government did a deal with the Labor party that saw them reverse their position on the 70GL of water, as well as allow the government to make further permanent changes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan based on unproven water efficiency projects. 

The irrigation lobby is looking to environmental water to help ease drought conditions, while big cotton farms like Cubbie Station hold more water than Sydney Harbour. 

We are watching the SA Royal Commission carefully, and continuing to shine a light on the corruption, water theft, and injustice that is rife within the basin. The Commission has heard substantial evidence that the plan was never based on science, and the water that was supposed to go to the environment would not be enough. We’re seeing this play out in real time with the condition of the Coorong and Lower lakes, and the fact that the Murray Mouth is being dredged almost every single day to keep it open. 

Protect the Bight

Another year, another company trying to drill for oil and gas in the Great Australian Bight. After BP and Chevron were chased off by a passionate, grassroots campaign, Norwegian company Equinor (formerly Statoil) is throwing their hat into the ring.  

The oil and gas industry has been out in force, trying to spruik the so-called ‘benefits’ of plans to drill in the Bight, in preparation for Equinor to lodge their application to drill for oil in this precious marine environment.  

Yet we know the profits and the product would go offshore – and in the case of an oil spill, our tourism and fishing industries will be irreversibly destroyed.  

Not only that, but it chains us to damaging fossil fuels at a time when we need decisive action on climate change and a serious transition to clean energy. 

In April, we launched the Bight 2020 campaign, a push to see the Great Australian Bight given World Heritage protection. Thousands of South Australians have been following the campaign that urges the government to nominate the Great Australian Bight in the February 2020 round of submissions to the United Nations.  

Since the launch, we’ve seen amazing polling that shows about three-quarters of South Australians support World Heritage protection for the Bight.

Don’t dump on SA

SA has long opposed turning our state into a nuclear waste dump. This push from the Morrison Government means we need to fight this again.  

I went to Hawker to spend time with the brave community groups fighting against the nuclear waste dump, but we all need to support this campaign if we are going to be successful. It’s clear the government has a tin ear when it comes to South Australia’s concerns as they press ahead with plans to build a dump in the Flinders, near a sacred Adnyamathanha women’s site, or at Kimba on prime agricultural land. 

The ports of Whyalla, Port Pirie, and Port Lincoln are being considered for the transport of intermediate level radioactive waste to the national waste dump and, shockingly, none of these regional centres have been consulted. 

These communities have been put through extreme stress throughout this process. The Greens proudly stand with the brave men and women standing up to the government against dumping nuclear waste in our beautiful outback. 

Taking a stand

When David Leyonhjelm began his attacks on me in the Senate chamber, I was overwhelmed by the caring response from the community. My resolve to make a stand was galvanised because I knew this wasn’t just about sexist comments and innuendo directed at me. 

It was always my preference that Senator Leyonhjelm apologise and acknowledge how hurtful, defamatory and damaging his comments were, however he refuses to do so. 

I want to thank all of you who have contacted me in support of the stand I have taken against sexist abuse and harassment from Senator Leyonhjelm. Kind words have helped keep me strong, and keep me going throughout these difficult months. 

If my legal case against Senator Leyonhjelm is successful, I have pledged to donate any money awarded to two very worthy organisations: Plan International and the Working Women's Centre SA. 

No woman deserves to be disrespected, harassed and bullied in the workplace, in the street or their own homes. For women everywhere, from the factory floor, the hospitality industry or working in an office, this fight is for you.


Hundreds of dedicated volunteers and supporters rallied around our fantastic #Moogy4Mayo campaign. We’ve seen a great swing back to the Greens, and helped keep the Liberals out of Mayo.  

Major ‘Moogy’ Sumner was a passionate candidate, and it was wonderful to see our SA Greens community rally behind him. 

The messages we heard while we were out and about on the campaign trail were clear: we must combat climate change, save the Murray, protect the Great Australian Bight, and care for the people in our communities doing it tough. 

While the by-election is behind us, the next challenge is already on the horizon: the federal election.

We love local content

Australians love locally-made film and television. The $100 million annual contribution to the economy, massive export potential, and the thousands of Australian jobs in the industry are at risk if commercial broadcasters have their way.  

I’m the chair of the local content Senate inquiry, and we’ve heard compelling evidence about the value locally-made content has for our production sector, the economy, and our communities. It’s also quite clear that commercial broadcasters want to focus on reality television and imported kid’s TV instead of investing in quality content suited to Australian audiences.   

The Senate inquiry is ongoing, and we’ve already heard from a wide range of content producers, including South Australia’s own brilliant production sector, the children’s television industry, the entertainment union, Free TV Australia and major music industry players.

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

In March, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his trade minister signed Australians up to a revived version of the TPP. This dodgy deal designed behind closed doors threatens jobs, may allow foreign multinationals to sue Australia and could cause cancer medication costs to go through the roof. It’s clearly a deal that favours corporations over communities. 

Labor has sided with the Morrison Government on passing the enabling legislation that will see us shackled to this bad deal, saying they would scale back the parts they don’t like when they are in government. This is a hollow promise that we know cannot be kept.  

We plan to move amendments to ensure workers’ rights, protect Australian jobs and prohibit Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions when the legislation is before the Senate.

Gearing up for the next election

We’re gearing up for our biggest campaign ever in South Australia. With our amazing team of candidates and volunteers, we are hitting the campaign trail to offer a progressive alternative to voters. Securing our Senate spot in South Australia is crucial to keep the Greens' balance of power in the Senate. 

The election could be called at any time, and if we are going to stem the conservative tide creeping into our politics thanks to the likes of Cory Bernardi and Pauline Hanson, we are going to need a strong, unified team to take up the fight.  

The Greens have a lot to celebrate. Our policies focus around caring for our communities, protecting our environment, and cleaning up politics. The stakes in SA have never been higher. 

If the Greens lose our SA Senate seat, the likelihood is it will go to Pauline Hanson – possibly handing her balance of power. The campaign starts now!