A future worth fighting for: Janet Rice

Greens in the parliament are playing our part in the growing, powerful movement for a healthy and safe future for all of us.

By Senator Janet Rice

Election campaign

We did it! After months of campaigning and a whole lot of effort from volunteers and supporters across Victoria, I was so proud to be re-elected to the Senate in this year’s federal election.  

I want to send a big thank-you for all the work and efforts of our wonderful volunteers across the state - all of our Greens achievements could not have happened without you. 

This election was especially exciting because of our all-women Senate ticket. I was so inspired by every woman on our Victorian Senate team, which included a trans woman, a woman of colour, a millenial woman and women from regional Victoria. It would have been wonderful for all of this team to be elected with me to inject this diversity into our Parliament.  

The Greens will continue to push for more diversity across all levels of government and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the many talented people that stood for elected positions this year.

Threatened species Senate inquiry

This year I continued my work as Chair of the Senate Environment and Communications Committee, heading up a Greens-initiated inquiry into Australia’s animal extinction crisis. Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinctions and one of the highest overall extinction rates in the world. 

Australia’s extinction crisis has only worsened in the 20 years since our national environment laws were first introduced. This won’t change until Australia stops the logging of our native forests and broadscale land clearing, and starts enacting bold policy to address climate change and pollution. 

In April this year, the committee released our Interim Report which recommended new environment laws to limit the drivers of extinction, including habitat destruction and climate change. These laws would include a new, independent EPA that would be given powers, resources and funding to assess activity and ensure compliance. 

Extinction is a political choice. The Greens will continue to hold this government and Labor to account and keep pushing for the protection of our threatened species.

Religious discrimination and LGBTIQ+ rights 

As a queer woman, I am proud to continue to stand up in the senate for the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community, especially at a time when the current government seems intent on enshrining discrimination into our laws, rather than protecting us from it. 

We must remember that this campaign  did not happen in a vacuum. The beginnings can be traced back to the marriage equality debate, and the government seems intent on dealing with its internal conflicts by curtailing the rights of LGBTIQ+ communities, as well as women and people with disabilities. 

Discrimination harms everyone and all Australians should have protection under the law. People of faith should be free to practice their religion without fear of harm or prejudice. But no one should have the right to harm or hurt others on the basis of their religious beliefs.

There is still much to be done to achieve equality for LGBTIQ+ Australians. The Greens will support LGBTIQ+ people and their families to ensure they are treated equally, have autonomy over their bodies, access to holistic and comprehensive health services and secure housing, and are free from discrimination.

Climate emergency and the year of the activists

The biggest fight ahead of us, not just in Australia but worldwide, is dealing with our climate crisis. We are living in a climate emergency, but neither major party is acting that way. 

This is scary and it can be hard to see a way through it when we have a government unwilling to take action. But, I and my colleagues will keep fighting every day for the values and policies you elected us to uphold. 

Greens in the parliament are part of the growing, powerful movement for a healthy and safe future for all of us.  

All around Australia and the world, we’ve seen the amazing work of activists and changemakers:

  • Young activists like Greta Thunberg and the student climate strikers here in Australia and around the world standing up for our future sparking a world-wide movement and providing the leadership to which parliamentarians should aspire. Autumn Peltier, Artemisa Xakriabá, Ridhima Pandey, (look them up if you don’t know who they are and be inspired!) Seed Mob here in Australia. 

  • Extinction Rebellion, taking to the streets to disrupt the business as usual approach that’s driving both our climate and nature emergencies. 

  • The Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance, tirelessly working to decolonise our society. 

  • All our wonderful Greens volunteers who knock on doors, make phone calls, stand on stalls and on polling day booths, and speak to thousands upon thousands of people about the future they want for our country.  

It can be hard to not feel despair and frustration, but when I see our progressive movement in action, I know it is strong and growing and that our voices will be heard. 

Sadly, we are unlikely to see much progressive legislation pass parliament in the coming months. But us Greens MPs will engage with the community, build our power together, and help resource people to take action.  

And when people push from outside parliament, it forces changes inside parliament. Movements make change. We are in parliament to be the voice of change. 

In this next year, I look forward to continuing to work hand in hand with the community and my colleagues to tackle our climate crisis, to protect our natural world and to create a fairer, more equal society. 

Our future 

The 46th Parliament of Australia is not one we wanted. But we must be resilient to setbacks. We must take stock, stay optimistic and hopeful, even when things look tough. We must, in short, persist. 

I spend a lot of time imagining the future. I have hope and belief that by working together we can create a better world. I know it’s possible. 

Imagine a world where nature is protected and valued for its own sake, rather than being abused and destroyed, for the sake of profits for corporations.  

A future where we stand with First Nations Peoples, a future where LGBTIQ+ people and people of colour and people with disabilities are equal and celebrated. 

A future where the climate emergency is over, where coal and gas and oil are fossils of the past, where people are positive and optimistic about a thriving, healthy and safe planet. 

This could be our future. 

And it’s the future I look forward to continuing to fight for, together.