Climate Change

Ms WELLS (Lilley) (11:21): Climate action is human rights, because climate change affects the most vulnerable first and hardest. It already has, with droughts, fires, floods and crop failures. It affects the myriad of species and habitats that make this earth such an intricately beautiful place, from the coral reefs to the camel herds. But the reality today under this third-term government is: if the environment was a bank, it would've been saved already.

We are now facing a global health crisis that, in November, the World Health Organization Director-General warned the world could no longer sleepwalk through this health emergency. Health professionals are dealing more and more with the harmful effects of the climate crisis in our emergency departments, in our GP rooms and in our crisis clinics. The impact is evident. Air pollution across the globe is now more deadly than war, smoking and tuberculosis. Air pollution kills seven million people every year.

Australia's water security has already been significantly influenced by climate change. Rainfall patterns are shifting and the severity of floods and droughts have increased. Severe droughts, heavy rainfall and floods all affect our health in many ways, contaminating water supplies, increasing mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and Ross River virus, and increasing psychological stress in our rural communities. It is not a radical idea to suggest that clean drinking water and clean air should be the right of all Australians, regardless of their income, of where they grew up or of what era they were born.

Lilley is home to the Kedron Park Emergency Services Complex, where hundreds of Queenslanders man the fort during times of crisis, most recently with the Queensland bushfires which are still an ongoing issue for our emergency service workers. Additionally, in Lilley we have many volunteers and local services that operate out of Brisbane to help address these increasing incidents. I had two mobile offices yesterday in Wavell Heights and I had constituents come to me to tell me specifically that these NGOs are exhausted and are struggling with the increase to their demand. This is now something that they have to deal with on a year-round basis, not just during a particular season. They tell me that they need more funding to account for the fact that these are now year-round occurrences. You can look at the example of the fire at Binna Burra. A building that lasted 90 years surrounded by dense subtropical rainforest, burning down, shows this is not just the usual environmental cycle. Now 70 people have lost their jobs as a result.

Constituents tell me that they are worried for their children. It is something that worries me too. In my first speech to parliament, I spoke about the fact that earlier this year Australia became the first country to lose a mammal to climate change. It has been lost and that loss has changed nothing. It was news until it stopped being news just hours later. Can any of us name it today? I know some of you can. Maybe the Queenslanders who've just departed could. It was the Bramble Cay melomys, a mammal. It was a very furry, fluffy melomys, and it's already both gone and forgotten. How many species must we lose before we say 'enough' or before we say, 'We must change, and we will change, and we will stop this.'

Global heating is driving more frequent and extreme weather, such as drought, floods, bushfires, and heatwaves—

An honourable member: No, it's not.

It does. These things harm children disproportionately. Children are at a greater risk of respiratory illness, increases in childhood emergency department visits for asthma, fever, gastroenteritis and heat stroke, as well as the physical and psychological trauma from extreme weather events. What we are deciding now is what life will be like for the kids born this year, who will be 82 in 2100, and their grandchildren and their grandchildren's grandchildren. They will curse the era that devastated the planet. But if we who believe in the climate emergency continue to fight—continue to fight against those opposite—perhaps they'll bless the memory of those who tried to limit this destruction.