Shorten declares climate “emergency” as top priority for Labor

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Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten has referred to climate change as an “emergency,” in his final formal pitch to voters ahead of Saturday’s federal election.

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(AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
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Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten has referred to climate change as an “emergency,” in his final formal pitch to voters ahead of Saturday’s federal election.

“if you vote Labor we will deliver the change that the nation deserves from day one,” the Opposition Leader said in his speech at Bowman Hall in Blacktown, New South Wales, on Thursday.

“We will convene Parliament to prioritise real action on climate change… I promise that we will send a message to the world, that when it comes to climate change Australia is back in the fight!,” he said.

“It is not the Australian way to avoid and duck the hard fights. We will take this emergency seriously, and we will not just leave it to other countries or to the next generation.

“We are up for real action on climate change now if we get elected on Saturday.”

The use of that word follows the historic moment earlier this month, when a bipartisan UK Parliament passed a national declaration of an Environment and Climate Emergency.

As The Conversation put it at the time, the move has been likened to putting the country on a “war footing”, with climate and the environment at the very centre of all government policy, rather than being on the fringe of political decisions.

Australia is still a long way from that kind of political enlightenment, and Shorten didn’t exactly declare an emergency, but he did put the word out there, alongside a promise to make action on climate policy a day-one priority for an elected Labor government.

“I say to the women and men of Australia, vote Labor because we are the only party with the courage and the principles and the plan to take real action on climate action,” he said, in the conclusion of his speech.

“The choice for Australia to be a leader in the world is ours to make and the power is in your hands.”

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