The fight for the future

Adam Bandt, National Press Club


Thank you for this opportunity to address the National Press Club.

I would first like to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, their elders past, present and emerging, of the land on which we meet.

I would like to acknowledge the tent embassy, and the elders of the over 500 different nations which make up what we now call Australia.

I would like to acknowledge my colleagues, and some of our supporters who have made it along today.

Today, I want to talk about the fight for the future.
But we cannot fight for the future until we come to terms with our past.
This country was invaded. Sovereignty was never ceded.

First Nations people were violently dispossessed. Lands, waters and children have been stolen. Families broken and communities torn apart.

Successive governments have perpetrated grave injustices, dispossession and imprisonment since colonisation, which continues to this day.

Hundreds of First Nations people have died in police custody and no one has been held to account. Kids as young as ten can be thrown in jail, and in the NT, 100% of the kids in prison are indigenous.  

We must begin to tell the truth to start to heal, as we begin our journey towards a Treaty or Treaties with First Nations people.

A Treaty will create a unified national identity that celebrates what unites us, protects the rights of First Nations people and their cultures while also acknowledging the ongoing and historical injustices of colonisation and I want to pay tribute to the work of our First Nation Senators Lidia Thorpe and Dorinda Cox who have been working so hard to put a Treaty and justice for First Nations people on the national agenda.


A future for coal & gas workers

I have a picture of a coal-fired power station hanging on the wall of my office. It was a gift from the LaTrobe valley power station workers from before I entered  Parliament, thanking me for representing them after I fought to protect their wages and conditions after privatisation.

In the last few months, I have visited Rockhampton, Gladstone, Townsville, Newcastle and Singleton, with a simple message: we have to get out of coal and gas while supporting coal and gas workers.

I have assured these communities that coal and gas workers are not the enemy. We are all in this together.

My message to coal and gas workers is simple: thank you. You have helped build this country, you have done dangerous jobs, and fought hard for secure work with good wages and we respect the incredible contribution you have made to this country.

Our $19 billion ‘Job for Job Guarantee’ preserves coal workers wages at current rates for 10 years as we phase out the industry, and grow new businesses to take coal’s place, has been very well received.

In many places the best job for a coal worker is another mining job, so we back growing the ‘green minerals’ sector in Australia, where we mine and process here the metals and minerals we need to make batteries, electric cars, wind turbines and other products to sell to a zero pollution world.

People aren’t stupid. We can all see the writing on the wall. We want a future for our kids. The Greens will tell working people the truth, and we will not abandon them.

Because telling the truth is more important now than ever.


The Climate Crisis

And the truth is, we’re at war.

People are being chased from their homes by floods and fires.

Our enemy is the climate crisis.

The enemy is fuelled by coal and gas.

Mining and burning coal and gas is killing people.

And Liberal and Labor want more.

The war is bleaching our Reef, burning our forests to the ground, dropping rain bombs on our cities and towns, damaging our communities and our economy.

Last month I was in flood-hit areas of Brisbane and Lismore. It was like a war zone. The floods had ripped through the towns uprooting people from their homes.

This war isn’t happening in 2030 or 2050. It’s happening now.

Liberal and Labor talk of a policy of appeasement, but their weak 2030 targets will cook our country by 3 degrees or more.

Liberal and Labor haven’t just given up, they are aiding the enemy by backing more coal and gas. Liberal and Labor are backing 114 new coal and gas projects around the country.

And today the Labor leader has confirmed Labor won’t stop new coal mines.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

When everyone, from the world’s scientists, to the UN, and even the conservative International Energy Agency, all say to reach even the inadequate net-zero by 2050 goals there can be no new fossil fuel projects. None. Liberal and Labor back 114 of them.

I don’t know how Liberal and Labor can look at towns like Cobargo, Mallacoota, Lismore or Ballina in the eye and tell them opening a new coal or gas mine is a good idea.

They have blood on their hands. They have the blood of the people who were trapped in their flooded homes, or burned to death trying to run away from a raging bushfire.

This financial year, Liberal and Labor governments are handing out $11.6 billion worth of subsidies to the coal, oil and gas industry. A massive 12% increase on last year’s figure and 56 times the budget of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency. The Budget has  $350 million for gas pipeline studies and to frack the gas of the Beetaloo basin, with billions more for new gas terminals in Darwin - all to benefit fossil fuel corporations.

There’s the Beetaloo Basin, driven by the Labor government in the Northern Territory, a project so big it will lift Australia’s own emissions by up to 13%, rejected by the Traditional Owners, opposed by the majority of Australians, yet received $226 million so far in taxpayer handouts from Liberal and Labor.

There’s Labor’s Scarborough gas project in WA, the only state where emissions keep going up. It’s one of the world’s most dangerous projects.

There’s Labor’s plans in Victoria to mine for gas and oil around the 12 Apostles opening the pristine Southern Ocean to oil spills and industrialisation.

The Prime Minister said “this is coal, don’t be afraid”. We’re not afraid, we’re angry.

We’re angry that you are consigning us, to what you admitted, is “a much harder country to live in”.

We have to stop arming the enemy.

If these projects go ahead, we will be locking in decades of damage.

These projects alone will ensure all the climate targets will be missed.

We will cook, we will be washed away, we will starve, and we will die.  

You can’t put the fire out while pouring more petrol on it.

So you will hear the Greens continue to deliver a simple message between now and election day.

No more coal and gas.

When we are in balance of power after the election in the Senate and the House and have kicked the Liberals out, this will be our key demand.

In this time of climate and environmental emergency, stop opening more coal and gas mines.


most powerful Third Party

Commentators are saying this election will be very close and major media outlets are routinely quoting Liberal and Labor party insiders saying a minority Parliament is likely.

And whatever happens in the lower house, the Greens will be in balance of power in the Senate, potentially in our own right.

We’re being upfront about what we’ll put on the table and push for in the next Parliament. 

The Greens will kick the Liberals out and take climate action by stopping new coal and gas mines, and we’ll tackle the cost of living by getting dental and mental health into Medicare, fixing the housing affordability crisis and wiping student debt.

I’ve been saying these things for almost two years and I say them again today, because the Greens are now poised to be the most powerful third force in the Parliament this election.

We just had a record vote in the South Australian election. We were the only party in Parliament whose vote grew in the Tasmanian election. We have doubled our seats in that bastion of democracy the Queensland Parliament and tripled our seats here in the ACT.

We are fighting, we are growing and we are winning.

We aren’t worried about the climate independents. We welcome them. They are drawing attention to the climate inaction of Liberal and Labor. The more climate is in the news, the better, and it makes a power sharing Parliament more likely. Tasmania and SA both saw the Greens vote rise even as independents gained votes and seats.

And aside from the Liberal/Greens seat of Kooyong, where an independent and the Greens are queing up to unseat Josh Fyrdenberg, there isn’t any seat around the country where the Greens and the independents are competing.

Our support is rising because the Greens are fighting for everyone’s future. We will be in both houses of Parliament, with stronger leverage, able to effect more change. And we’ll kick the Liberals out.

We are hopeful of increasing our numbers in the Lower House and we have some incredible local candidates around the country.

In Griffith in Brisbane, Max Chandler-Mather’s campaign has had over 20,000 one on one conversations, and in my view, is on track to win a tough campaign. His campaign is determined to point out that this is twice the number that my campaign for Melbourne in 2010 achieved.

Elizabeth Watson-Brown in the Liberal seat of Ryan also has her nose in front at the moment. The Greens hold the state seat of Maiwar that sits inside Ryan achieved with a primary above 40% and created a massive 14% swing away from the Liberals there at the last election. Keep an eye on Stephen Bates in Brisbane too.

We could also win in Richmond, where activist, writer and well-known stand up comedian Mandy Nolan is a local champion who has been helping her community fight for survival since the devastating floods. Her very Northern Rivers campaign features a picture of her in a bikini riding the giant prawn, and she doesn’t take a backward step. We would all be better off for having someone who can tell it straight like Mandy in this place.

In Victoria, we think we could win in Macnamara, where Steph Hodgins-May is building on strong previous campaigns, in Higgins, where Sonya Semmens needs only a 2.6% shift in the vote to win, or even Kooyong, where Piers Mitchem is trying to knock off the Treasurer who is facing a climate revolt in his own backyard.

Cooper and Wills also still have strong campaigns, setting us up well if not for this time then certainly for next time and it's great to see Tim Hollo and his team here today who are leading a fantastic campaign in Canberra.

Even if Labor does pull off a once in a 20 year swing and wins majority government in the Lower House, the Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate, potentially in our own right.   

We are on track to hold onto the three senators who are up for re-election, Lidia Thorpe, Dorinda Cox and Peter Whish-Wilson and add three more, in Queensland, South Australia and NSW.

If voters support us, I’ll be joined by Penny Allman-Payne, a teacher from Gladstone who’s fought for all teachers in the Queensland Teachers Union. Queenslanders have a clear choice: it’s Penny vs Pauline or Palmer.

In South Australia, our lead Senate candidate is Barbara Pocock, an Emeritus Professor and Economist who has specialised in gender and rights at work, she would be a bold fighter for South Australia, keeping the bastards honest.

And in NSW, David Shoebridge, the former barrister, environmental and social activist, is seeking to represent the people of NSW, keeping out One Nation.

Also keep an eye on the election here in the ACT, where one recent report suggested Tjanara Goreng Goreng who is here with us today stands a great chance of knocking off the conservative Liberal Senator Zed Seselja.

This all puts us on track to be the biggest third party in the Senate ever, to be the biggest ever Greens party room and to be the most powerful third party in the Parliament.


Cost of living

We urgently need more Greens elected because we’re not just facing a climate crisis, we’re facing an inequality crisis.

The cost of living crisis is an inequality crisis.

Currently, the gap between the rich and poor has never been wider.

Many billionaires doubled their wealth during the pandemic.

Clive Palmer is trying to buy himself a seat in Parliament, and Gina Rinehart owns 1.2% of the land in this country.

Meanwhile, 1 in 3 big corporations pays no tax.

When a nurse pays more tax than a multinational, something is seriously wrong.

Liberal and Labor have designed a system which gives big corporations and billionaires too much power, increases the cost of everything, and pushes down wages.

For working people and families, living standards are going backwards.

Our essential services have been sold off, and now, electricity, housing, health and education are all too expensive.

Over three million people are living in poverty. And in a heartbreaking move to the right, Labor has just agreed with the Liberals to keep people in poverty, refusing to lift income support payments above the poverty line.

400,000 women over the age of 45 are at risk of becoming homeless.

No matter how much many young people save, they will never be able to afford a home of their own.

We have record low wage growth, endemic wage theft and out of control insecure work.

The arts and entertainment industries and our universities were simply abandoned during the pandemic, left to fend for themselves while the government’s mates made out like bandits.  

Australia needs a pay rise. We need to increase the minimum wage to 60% of median weekly earnings. We need to outlaw insecure work. 

Here is my point:

Government is key to fixing the inequality crisis, but only if we make billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share of tax, and then use that money to make people’s lives better.

But with Labor now backing the Liberals on tax cuts for billionaires, handouts for wealthy property investors with more than 3 homes, keeping people in poverty and giving subsidies to coal and gas, Australian social democracy is at stake.

When Labor says that if they win the election an aged care worker will pay the same tax rate as a CEO, that’s a trickle-down nightmare, and it’s the end of Australia’s progressive taxation system.

This is more than Labor just running a so-called ‘small target’ strategy to win one election. This is about the future of social democracy.

With Labor siding with the Liberals to rip $184 billion out of the public purse to fund tax cuts for the wealthy, $69b in handouts to push up housing costs and $98b for coal and gas subsidies, social democracy is headed for the chopping block unless more Greens are elected.

Without Greens in balance of power to push for big corporations and billionaires to pay their fair share of tax, the next Budget will be an austerity budget and Australia will take one more step closer to US-style inequality.
Governments can do a lot.

As we have seen just last week with a stroke of a pen, Ministers could remove all refugees from criminal detention.  

With a stroke of a pen, we could end the subsidies for coal and gas corporations and put a moratorium on all new projects.  

Government can raise taxes on billionaires, they can improve services, they can cut off the handouts to coal and gas, and ensure everyone has an affordable home.  

Governments have the power to improve our country, they’ve just sold us out, given up, thrown in the towel, and are hitting the snooze button on our future.

Time’s up. Young people have woken up to the fix. People deserve better. 
As I’ve said, our priority is to take climate action by stopping new coal and gas mines. 
But we’ll tackle the cost of living too with 3 key demands:
  • 1. get dental and mental health into Medicare. 
  • 2. fix the housing affordability crisis by building 1 million new homes that people can buy for $300,000 or rent for 25% of their income;
  • 3. wipe student debt, which will relieve a huge burden for people at a time many are trying to start a family or buy their first house.

And today I can announce the details of our last as yet unreleased plank in this platform, something that will be at the top of our list: getting dental into Medicare.  


Dental into Medicare

In 2010, when I won the seat of Melbourne for the first time, the Greens were in the balance of power in both House and Senate and my vote put Labor into government.

We secured free dental care for kids. It survived the Liberals, and now, kids can access $1000 every 2 years in free dental services.

The Greens want to finish the job and get dental into Medicare for everyone.

You don’t tackle the cost of living with one off handouts that get eaten up by inflation, you make structural changes like making dental care free as part of Medicare.

Toothaches are incredibly painful. Left untreated, tooth decay can kill you.

Each year, over 2 million Australians avoid going to the dentist because they can’t afford it.  

If you can’t afford to see a dentist when you need to, the problems just get worse.

People who avoid going to the dentist, face higher costs, higher risk of heart disease and can face social isolation.

During the last two years when so many people have been struggling to cope with the rising costs of living, one of the things people overlooked was their dental health.

The lower your income, and the further you live from a major city, the less likely you are to be able to see a dentist.

  • Low income earners have twice the rate of untreated dental decay. 
  • More than a third of people in remote and regional areas suffer untreated dental decay. 
  • Over half of all first nation’s people live with untreated dental health issues.

Poverty charges interest. If you can’t afford to see a dentist today, you’ll have to pay for a root canal tomorrow.

Untreated dental conditions are one of the most significant causes of preventable hospital admissions.

When people are unable to go to the dentist, they present in Emergency Departments, putting greater pressure on our hospitals.

During the pandemic, we have come to truly appreciate the importance of investing in public health.

We know that prevention is better than any cure.

Dental healthcare must be universal. It is a human right. 

Under our plan, everyone entitled to Medicare will be able to get bulk billed or rebated dental care including oral surgeries and orthodontic treatment.

The Greens want you to be able to use your Medicare card at the dentist.

Under the Greens’ plan, you can go to the dentist of your choice and use your Medicare card, just like at the GP.

Our policy will cost $77.6 billion over the decade - about $8b a year - funded by making billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share of tax, and it will make people’s lives better.  

The money is there to pay for these plans if we have the guts to take on the billionaires and big corporations. 

Labor agrees with Liberals that workers should get a one-off payment of $420 but billionaires should get a tax cut of $9000 per year, every year, forever, but the Greens want something different.
The Greens will introduce a billionaires tax, which will tax the growing list of 131 billionaires in Australia 6% of their wealth every year.

We will introduce a corporate super profits tax or tycoon tax, which will get the 1 in 3 corporations that currently don’t pay any tax and force them to hand over their excessive profits on anything they make over $100M, and we will crack down on multinational tax avoidance. We will also end the billions in subsidies to fossil fuel corporations which are not only trying to kill us, they’re sending us an invoice.

The Greens will make Clive Palmer pay more tax so you can fix your teeth.

So over the coming weeks, just like the last two years, you will hear from us over and over one simple message: in balance of power, the Greens will kick the Liberals out and take climate action by stopping new coal and gas mines, and we’ll tackle the cost of living by getting dental and mental health into Medicare, fixing the housing affordability crisis and wiping student debt.


21 May

The election is still weeks away but it can’t come soon enough.

People are sick of the Prime Minister.  

He promised to manage the economy, and keep people safe, but he failed.

It’s just been one stuff up after another.

But while people want to remove this government, Labor is sadly agreeing with the Liberals on too many issues that matter, like tax cuts for the wealthy and opening more coal and gas mines.

I am sure Anthony Albanese will be better than the current PM, but what people need is someone to keep Labor on track. 

For the last 50 years, the Greens have been fighting for the future.

Since we first fought to save the wild rivers of Tasmania, we have grown to be now the third biggest party in Australia.

We have been elected to the Parliament in every state in the country.

We have been in shared power governments in Tasmania and the ACT.

Here in the ACT, for the last ten years we have been part of the progressive, stable and effective Greens-Labor government, securing many important reforms including 100% renewable energy, funding for affordable housing and an anti-corruption commission.  

1.5 million people vote for the Australian Greens.  

Our voters want change. They want justice. They want a real social democracy, not sell outs and shills for the coal and gas corporations.

We represent the thousands of young people who took to the streets in the school strikes for climate.

We are the voice of people who want to protect the environment which sustains us all.

We have better policies for working people than the Labor Party and continue to attract support amongst the progressive union movement.


The fight for our future

And now, we are fighting for our future.

This election, people need to vote like their life depends on it.

The climate crisis is spiralling out of control.

It’s now or never. 

The Greens will fight to protect this country by stopping new coal and gas mines.

The Greens will fight to ensure everyone has an affordable home, wiped student debt and dental and mental health as part of Medicare.

The Greens will fight to make the big corporations and billionaires pay their fair share of tax.

We will fight. We will grow. And we will win.

This election, vote like your life depends on it.

Fight for your future.

For a future for all of us

Vote climate.

Vote Greens.

Together, we’re powerful.

Together, we can kick the Liberals out and put the Greens in the balance of power.

We can get real climate action, fix the housing crisis, wipe student debt, and deliver free dental and mental health care for all. And that’s not all.

The Greens are fighting for your future.