The real opposition: Adam Bandt

This must be the year we make our voices heard outside of Parliament as well as within.

By Adam Bandt

Thrilled but gutted. That’s how many of us in Melbourne felt on election night, knowing we’d secured the highest ever vote for the Greens in a federal or state election (49.3%) but that I’d be sitting across the chamber from a Morrison government. Also distressing was the reality that despite us re-electing every senator and getting 10% of the vote in the House of Representatives, there would continue to be only one Greens MP in the lower house. 

It hasn’t taken long to work out, however, that we’re the real opposition to the Coalition. As we took the fight up to the conservatives on their tax cuts for the rich and their climate denialism, we often found ourselves alone as Labor waved through tax cuts for millionaires and refused to back the demands of the local climate strike. 

Climate action

The climate strikers have three simple demands – no new fossil fuels, 100% renewables and a just transition for workers and communities – but only the Greens backed them in Parliament. The Coalition is backing coal to the hilt and new-look Labor was straight out of the blocks supporting new coal mines, completely misreading the election result and falling for the myth that the government has some kind of pro-coal mandate. 

In the past 12 months, the world’s scientists have told us that the planet has warmed by 1 degree and that the dangerous tipping point of 1.5 degrees – which the Paris Agreement pledges us to try and stay below – may arrive as soon as 2030. To stay below it, the scientists say, at least two-thirds of the world’s coal-fired power stations need to close by 2030. (The Greens’ plan for Australia is to have them all replaced by renewables by that time.) That means our country needs a plan to phase out the 20% of the thermal coal we burn locally as well as the 80% we send overseas.  

We have been pushing our plan to move Australia beyond coal (and oil and gas) by 2030 because it is what the science requires. We’ve also been trying to shake this government out of its climate slumber by getting Parliament to declare a climate emergency. We have gained the support of the crossbench (as well as former Liberal leader John Hewson!) and hope we can get it through Parliament this year, as a clear signal to the government that the time for talking and denial is over. 

Other areas of focus

As our federal industrial relations spokesperson, we have continued to push for action to reverse penalty rate cuts and tackle job insecurity. Although the current government doesn’t offer much hope for positive change on this front, we won’t take our foot off the pedal on this front.

I’ve also recently been made our spokesperson for a new portfolio – the Public Sector – to help fight job cuts and ensure that government has the resources it needs to make Australia more equal. And as our spend on science drops to all-time lows, I will keep fighting to implement Greens’ policy to lift Australia’s total science and research spending to 4% of GDP. 

This must be the year we make our voices heard outside of Parliament as well as within, so I look forward to working with you all as we tackle the inequality crisis and the climate crises: two of the most pressing issues we have faced together.