Jan 26, 2005

Australia Day: A time to consider our future way of life


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 26 January 2005

Anthony Albanese, Federal Member for Grayndler and Shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage today used his keynote address to Leichhardt Council’s Australia Day Ceremony to stress that climate change is the most significant challenge facing the global community and the greatest threat to our way of life.

Mr Albanese said in his speech:

“The outpouring of generosity and sympathy after the devastating Boxing Day tsunami demonstrated the best of the Australian character.

The tsunami highlighted how fragile our existence is. While the tsunami was an unavoidable and tragic natural disaster for which no one is responsible, we can – indeed we must – take global action to address climate change which has the potential to provoke a catastrophe on an even more destructive scale.

A report this week from a panel of respected experts, the International Climate Change Taskforce warned that the global community has less than a decade to avert catastrophic climate change. A failure to act is likely to result in widespread droughts, crop failures, rising sea levels, water shortages and irreversible damage to the Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon rainforest.

Australians can see the impact climate change is already having: Sydney is experiencing severe and prolonged water shortages; up to 75% of the red gums on the Murray River flood plains are sick or dying; and coral bleaching has damaged significant parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

The impact of Climate Change on our neighbours threatens many of the same nations devastated by the tsunami such as Bangladesh, the Maldives and the Andaman Islands. The Pacific nation of Tuvalu’s very existence is threatened.

Climate change is happening and responsible governments around the world are working together to minimise its impact on our economy and way of life. The Kyoto Protocol comes into effect just 3 weeks from today. Every industrialised country except for Australia and the US has ratified this historic agreement which has been 14 years in the making. The Howard Government’s refusal to show leadership at home or be part of international efforts to combat climate change is not only bad environmental policy, but also bad for the Australian economy.

Climate change threatens our health, our economy, our natural resources and our children’s future. Delaying action for a decade, or even just years, is no longer an option.

The Federal Government should take action and ratify the Kyoto protocol. In the absence of leadership from the Federal Government, ordinary citizens can help by doing simple things such as reducing electricity and water consumption, buying more efficient white goods, using public transport and buying cleaner fuel for their car.

As we celebrate our achievements as a nation on Australia Day, it is important we consider how we and future generations intend to live in the future”.