Published: 22 October 2019

SPECIAL INTEREST MATTERS Tuesday 15 October, 2019

Ms FORREST  - Mr President, I was caught up in a demonstration outside Parliament House this morning when I was already running late after having some medical assessments and then having my driveway blocked by a builder from next door.  Feeling somewhat frustrated I got caught up in the protest outside, which denied my access to the building, which we know is actually illegal.  It was interesting because it gave me the opportunity to speak about what I am speaking about now, with the protesters there and the media in attendance.  I will continue my presentation on the basis that I have already talked a bit about it. 

Mishca Linden is a grade 8 student who has lived in Wynyard all her life.  When Mishca learnt that a climate strike had not been organised for Wynyard, she organised and led the student climate strike in the Wynyard Cow Park, which was attended by many locals of all ages.  I am going to relay much of what she said in her speech at the event because she said it well.

Mishca said -

I love growing up here because even though Wynyard is small, it's fun.  I love swimming at the wharf with my friends in summer and swimming at Boat Harbour Beach.  I like going to Wynyard High because I think we still get great opportunities even though we are a small high school. 

This year I've been learning about a lot of things at school:  volume and area in maths; the Plague and Vikings in history; landforms and Viking expansion in geography; and cell structures in science. 

However, climate change wasn't something I learned as part of the regular curriculum.  I started to learn about climate change when I was asked to make a short film for the Commissioner for Children and Young People on an issue that young people were worried about.  My short film displayed the results of a survey I conducted on students at my school to see what they thought of climate change.  I found out that teachers are the second biggest influence on what students thought about climate change, but only 29% of students said they been taught about climate change in school.  I decided to learn more. 

Mishca is interested in marine biology and chose to do her UTAS science fair investigation on the effects on ocean acidification on mussels.  During her research, she began to see firsthand the effect on our oceans that climate change will have in her lifetime.  Mishca went on to say in her speech -

We have a problem:  basically, the earth is heating up and increased amounts of CO2 are affecting the oceans, the climate, ecosystems and US.  The lungs of our earth, the Amazon, has been on fire; this ancient rainforest that doesn't normally catch on fire is burning to the ground.  Vast tracts of QLD and NSW have already been in the grips of tragic and deadly bushfire, of a severity we have never seen before.  It is only the beginning of spring and out Emergency Services are bracing us to prepare for worse to come.  Is anyone else worried?  Even if you don't believe in climate change, you cannot deny that our way of life is a problem.  We have a problem that's getting worse and we can make a difference. 

I don't know why Scott Morrison isn't attending the UN summit that will be taking place in 3 days from now - 60 heads of state, including India's prime minister, France's president, the UK's prime minister and German chancellor are meeting in New York for a Climate Emergency Summit. 

I don't believe in passing up opportunities to learn about important things and I can't believe our Prime Minister is not going. 

Mishca's concerns were shared by many other Australians, with one poll suggesting 71 per cent of those polled from all political backgrounds believed the Prime Minister should have attended.  Another poll showed 90 per cent of Australians view climate change as a serious and pressing problem.  Mischa continued -

But I am here, and you are all here, and today we can have conversations so we can learn more about how we can fix this problem.  Learning and talking to each other is the most important thing we can do.  We are going to have to push harder than yesterday if we want a better tomorrow because the climate crisis affects everyone.

This is not a mainland issue, this is not a young person's issue or a wealthy person's issue.  This is an EVERYBODY issue.  This is our issue.  I wish Scott Morrison could see the Cow Park today.  We are all here because we are a community.  We have different ideas and beliefs, but we are a community and when you are part of a community you turn up and support one another. 

As a community, today we are here to learn together so we can work to stop the worst of this crisis playing out.  It's important we all stand together and not against one another.  We are ready to learn more here today. … It's okay that we are all still learning about climate change.  I'm not here today because I know the answers.  That's for all of us to work out together.  By each of us leading in our own way, and calling on others to do the same, I know that we will build paths out of this mess. 

None of us want to live in fear of an uncertain future.  I am growing up in Wynyard, Tasmania, but I am also growing up on this planet.  It's time to respectfully work out solutions to this problem.  Our leaders aren't showing us a clear way forward, so I think we need to make our own path here in Wynyard and leave a trail for others to follow.

Mishca is a young intelligent, passionate and articulate Tasmanian who is willing to stand up in front of a large crowd and raise her voice and express concerns many of us share.  She is right - we must all increase our knowledge, share our knowledge and address the very real issues facing us as a result of climate change.

I commend Mishca for her courage and willingness to act in such an inclusive and proactive way.  This is her future - and the future of our children and grandchildren.  Let us listen to these young people, learn from them, share our knowledge with them, and work with them to ensure a safe sustainable secure and certain future for us all.


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