This post is a guest post by Sandra Hawkins who recently visited the Federal MP for Ballarat. She wrote the following from notes taken during the meeting, interrupted by Catherine King who wasn’t comfortable with notes being taken, then by memory. Catherine King doesn’t like scrutiny regarding her weak position on climate change and Adani.
Today Monday December 10, I met with Catherine King, shadow Minister for Health and my local federal MP to discuss the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
I left her office feeling very disappointed and dejected.
Catherine had already told me during email correspondence that Labor is the party for strong action on climate change. She had recommended I read Labor’s National Policy Platform draft which is to be put before their national conference just a few days away.
I started to take notes while I was there but Catherine wasn’t comfortable with that. She said she felt I must be going to report back to someone.
I noticed throughout chapter 4 ‘Tackling climate change, securing our energy future & addressing our environmental challenges’ that there is a gap between the sense of urgency of the IPCC report and what Labor proposes. In Labor’s document there is no acknowledgement that the carbon budget is blown. There is support for fracking; mention of development of all energy resources; using revenues from mining, oil and gas for economic development and poverty alleviation.
The IPCC says we must not only slash emissions but actively remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Labor says it will cap emissions but eventually reduce the cap.
The IPCC says 1.5 degrees warming is too high, Labor’s draft policy document keeps referring to keeping under 2 degrees.
I left her office feeling very disappointed and dejected. I’m not convinced our local Member of Parliament fully appreciates the peril we are in due to climate change not being addressed effectively or urgently enough.
She wouldn’t agree to stating actual opposition to it, just the belief of it being not in the national interest.
Catherine spent some time explaining to me that Labor had been proactive on addressing climate change with Kevin Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and then Julia Gillard’s price on carbon. She insisted that if the CPRS had been supported by the Greens then it would have worked well and somehow been enshrined but able to be built upon and improved. According to Catherine the price on carbon was able to be overturned because it was so near the end of the Labor government term whereas the CPRS would have been safe by being between two Labor terms.
Catherine said that in her 18 years in Parliament she had learnt that plans and actions have to be achievable. They have to get through the Parliamentary process and via the legislative frameworks. She is very happy with the renewable energy target set by Labor.
I pointed out that what she was saying was ‘achievable’ is nowhere near enough to keep us below 1.5 degrees.
I said that the effects of 1 degree of warming were bad enough. I worried for the elderly, the disabled and the young.
I said I’d advised my children not to have kids of their own, that people I met had tears talking about their grandchildren’s future.
I spoke of the lifestyle changes and individual efforts I and others are making and that it would be nice to see a semblance of that effort by politicians.
She mentioned several times that it was the Greens that were at fault and why it is so difficult for Labor to catch up if they are elected. This repetition gave me the distinct impression she either knew or guessed that I lean towards the Greens. Was I supposed to feel partly responsible? I suspected so.
It was recommended I read “Climate Wars” by Mark Butler.
She said the only way I can guarantee Climate Action is to vote Labor and they mustn’t have a hung parliament.
I asked if “As shadow minister for health, do you recognise that climate change is an existential threat?”
She replied that it is a threat, she doesn’t like the word existential.
She said she has been working with Mark Butler on a Climate Change and Health Strategy.
I asked if declaring an emergency could fast track action but Catherine wasn’t in favour of that and not convinced of the effect of a declaration.
She said as a shadow minister she does not sign anything when I asked “Would you sign that you support a Climate Emergency declaration?”
I’m not convinced our local Member of Parliament fully appreciates the peril we are in due to climate change not being addressed effectively or urgently enough.
– Sandra Hawkins.