Government blocks crossbench motion to declare a climate change emergency

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Morrison government blocks motion moved by Greens, supported by Labor and cross-benchers, to declare a climate change emergency.

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AAP Image/Lukas Coch
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The Morrison Government has blocked a motion in Federal parliament to declare a climate emergency, and refused efforts from the crossbench to even discuss the proposal.

Greens member for Melbourne Adam Bandt sought to suspend standing orders in the House of Representatives late in Tuesday’s sitting, that would have allowed him to move the climate emergency declaration with fellow crossbench member, independent member Andrew Wilkie, seeking to second the motion.

“If the government can declare a budget emergency, than parliament can declare a climate emergency,” Bandt said.

“Nothing is more urgent than acting when people’s lives and livelihoods are under the threat. That is what we are witnessing now. This is urgent because people are going to the walle because of climate change.”

“Some of our communities have been told to prepare to run out of water in coming months. Parts of Australia have been on fire less than two months after winter. It is clear that we do not have global warming under control.”

“The thousands of people who are in a crippling drought, know we are in a climate emergency. The people who have endured bushfires recently, they know we are in a climate emergency. Our children know we are in a climate emergency,” independent MP Andrew Wilkie added.

“But this government doesn’t know we are in a climate emergency.”

“We are in a climate emergency, we must acknowledge that, and we must address that.”

Government members of the House of Representatives blocked the suspension, with the parliament voting 72-65 to prevent the climate emergency declaration from being moved as a motion.

In addition to Bandt and Wilkie, the climate emergency declaration had the support of Labor and independents Zali Steggall, Rebecca Sharkie and Helen Haines.

The Greens had flagged that they would move a motion to declare a climate emergency during the current sitting week.

Labor announced on Tuesday that they would support declaring a motion, proposing their own motion drafted by climate and energy spokesperson Mark Butler and shadow Minister Assisting for Climate Change Pat Conroy.

“Over the past 12-months in particular, we receive piece after piece of urgent advice from the world’s scientists, and professions and from the world’s leading economic regulators, that things are getting very dire indeed around the climate,” Labor spokesperson Mark Butler said.

The Greens had hoped that it may be able to coerce some of the more moderate members of the Liberal party’s ranks, some of whom recently signed up to a cross-bench led climate action group of parliamentarians.

The motion was ultimately defeated by opposition from the Liberal and National members, as well as conservative independent Bob Katter.

Federal energy minister Angus Taylor dismissed the motion, running through the government’s usual lines on its climate policies.

“We stand for meeting and beating sensible targets while maintaining a strong economy,” Taylor said.

An official e-petition calling on the federal parliament to declare a climate emergency has attracted almost 350,000 signatures.

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