From the Senator for Tasmania: Peter Whish-Wilson

By Peter Whish-Wilson

Year in Review

If COVID has taught us anything it's that when faced with a crisis, bold action is not only possible, but necessary. Smart leaders around the world are moving away from fossil fuels and have embraced a green recovery from COVID to not only deal with the health crisis, but with the climate crisis too.

The Morrison Government has wasted the opportunity to act, which makes the Greens presence in Parliament more important  than ever before - because while we continue to ride the waves of the pandemic and navigate our way forward, we also prove time and time again that we are the only party capable of fighting the dual crisis of climate change and COVID simultaneously.


Our oceans have become the canary in the coalmine for the planet and climate change, and this past year we have fought harder than ever to protect them. In August  and September of 2020, I chaired seismic testing senate inquiry hearings across Australia (digitally, because of COVID!).

This inquiry was the first of its kind globally. I initiated it because the Government has sat by for too long while big oil and gas companies have run rampant in our oceans - and after years of campaigning, diverse communities right across Australia are now realising it too. This became evident when I invited stakeholder groups from across Australia’s eastern seaboard to Parliament House to protest  against PEP-11. In a HUGE win for our oceans, our collective campaigning saw Labor and even Scott Morrison later announce opposition to PEP-11.

But the fight is far from over. Even after the seismic testing senate inquiry tabled its final report and revealed the fishing industry, ENGOs, scientific researchers and community groups are united in concerns about ongoing oil and gas exploration in our oceans, the Government chose to betray them by announcing the release of 80,000km2 of new ocean acreage for fossil fuel exploration. In this time of climate emergency there is no excuse for Governments to be handing over new areas of our oceans to explore for the very product that is killing our oceans, which is why I will be bringing a bill before the Senate to stop this madness in its tracks.

Lastly, in one of the most despicable things I’ve seen in my time as a senator, this year the Morrison Government literally bought time to delay UNESCO voting  to declare the Great Barrier Reef ‘in-danger’ from climate change with political spin, international lobbying and a taxpayer-funded snorkelling trip. I campaigned hard for the true state of the Reef to be known, and wrote to UNESCO to urge them to uphold their  original recommendations for listing the Reef in danger, while letting them know that Sussan Ley and the Coalition don’t speak for Australians. I will continue to fight for the Reef in the lead up to UNESCO’s next vote in February 2022. 

Waste and Recycling

Communities and the recycling industry have made it clear they want federal laws to make the circular economy work, to create jobs and boost investment - but unfortunately, they didn’t get it from the Government's Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill 2020, which was whipped up after a damning hearing into the Packaging and Plastics Bill that  I introduced to parliament in July 2020. 

The Government’s Bill was once-in-a-generation legislation that could have made real headway in tackling our nation’s waste crisis. Unfortunately, despite all  the best information laid out before them, the Government’s legislation didn’t (and still doesn’t) include any direct measures on reducing single-use plastics or give the recycling industry the policy certainty it needs to upgrade and invest our way out of  this waste crisis.

I worked constructively across party lines to fix this, but unfortunately the Bill  passed the Senate by just one vote, when One Nation teamed up with the LNP to block Green amendments, despite them being the same Green amendments that two  million Australians were lobbying the Government for. There’s still so much work to be done to better our nation's waste and recycling laws, and you can bet damn sure I’ll keep fighting for this moving forward.


It’s been quite a year for the agriculture sector, thanks in no small part to the LNP using farmers as their political football on climate change. But now is a  dangerous time to be distracted from the real climate action needed to support farmers. I’ve been advocating for farmers who know that with the right policy settings and investment, agriculture is one of the few industries that can become not just carbon neutral, but carbon positive.

In April I blew the whistle on serious animal welfare and environmental concerns at Australia’s largest dairy farming operation, in north-west Tasmania. This led  to major reform, including the business selling off large areas of its farm, infrastructure investment, and increased scrutiny of farm management processes. 


  • Environment and Communications Committee (inquiries):
    • Impact of feral deer, pigs and goats in Australia
    • Making waves: the impact of seismic testing on fisheries and the marine environment (Chair)
    • Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill 2020 [Provisions] and related bills
  • Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee (inquiries):
    • Definitions of meat and other animal products
    • Federal Government’s response to the drought, and the adequacy and appropriateness of policies and measures to support farmers, regional communities and the Australian economy
    • Performance of Australia's dairy industry and the profitability of Australian dairy farmers since deregulation in 2000
    • Policy, regulatory, taxation, administrative and funding priorities for Australian shipping
    • Fisheries quota system (Chair)
  • Senate Estimates committees:
    • Rural, Regional and Transport
    • Environment and Communications
    • Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade


In March 2021 it was reported over 30 Tasmanian devils had been killed in a relatively small stretch of Tasmania’s north west in just two months. This area is considered one of the last strongholds of healthy Tassie Devil populations in the state. I called on the Federal Environment Minister to restore federal funding to the Save the Tasmanian Devil program and to deploy simple measures to mitigate risks. Of course, this fell of deaf ears within our Government. This is not good enough, and the fight is not over. We can do better, and we MUST do better.

In other major news from Tasmania this year, I’ve been fighting to hold Environmental Minister Sussan Ley to account on her wilful lack of oversight of habitat destruction in the magnificent takayna/Tarkine region to make way for a toxic tailings dam. MMG was literally bulldozing rainforests before the dam had been assessed under federal legislation, despite the company’s own report highlighting impacts on federally listed endangered species. MMG needs to find an alternative to their current mine site instead of destroying nature by dumping their heavy metals tailings waste in takayna/Tarkine.


‹ Greens 2021 Annual Reports