thanks to you, the real opposition

point peron panorama



I rise tonight to thank and acknowledge all of those people around the country who are providing the real opposition to the Abbott Government.

If it’s your view that democracy is just about putting a piece of paper in a box once every few years and hoping for the best, then you’re really leaving that concept of opposition to the politicians who file in here for 19 weeks of the year.

I don’t think that idea has ever been tenable, but everywhere we look, the flaws in this hands-off model of delegated democracy are becoming more evident by the day. Parliament alone has not been able to stop Prime Minister Abbott waging a debilitating assault on the solar and wind energy industries that are finally reaching critical mass around the world. It has not stopped the gruesome human rights abuses carried out at the behest of Minister Scott Morrisson. It has blunted, but not halted the sadistic budget measures that have targeted some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

So tonight I want to pay my respects to all of those people whose view of democracy and political agency is more expansive than numbering boxes from time to time, to celebrate your hard fought successes and honour your irreplaceable losses. Those who stood in the way of machinery at Challar Forest, Walmadan and the Weld Valley, who are standing today at Maules Creek, the Pilliga, and East Gippsland, you speak for me. To those gearing up for direct action clashes at Point Peron and the beautiful Beeliar wetlands, you represent an extraordinay of Australians stepping up in defence of country that stretches back for as long as people have lived here.

To Jon Moylan and your supporters, and everyone who spent this year turning the divestment movement from a brilliant idea into a material financial risk to those fossil interests and their investors who would otherwise risk everything, I can’t thank you enough.

If you work or employ people in the clean energy sector and are coming to grips with the idea that your government might not just be indifferent to your industry but actively hostile, all I can say is, please hang in there. It matters to us all that your industry succeeds.

There are so many in our community whose names we will never know, who stand up for those who need a hand, even when they have so little themselves. These are the people for whom this Government’s extraordinary budget initiatives are not measured in statistics, but in lives. Getting to know Jon and Nic Shapiro, Bevan, Owen, Mort and others of those in my hometown dealing with the dark side of the housing boom has been one of the most moving experiences of 2014. Instead of being crushed by homelessness, you banded together and fought back and have taught us all about what compassionate resistence to callous Government policy actually looks like.

And to all of those at all levels of community building, from planners and developers to public transport advocates and architects, all those who see our cities and settlements not just as they are, but how they could be, thanks for your inspiration, expertise and support.

Most of all, I want to acknowledge the original sovereigns and custodians of this ancient land, for your patience and extraordinary courage in the face of continued appropriation of country and erasure of history.

Sometimes this year I’ve felt beaten down by the sheer relentless aggression of a Government that lied its way into office and seems to announce one harmful, or casually abusive new initiative every single day. I cannot remember an Australian executive so brazenly, unashamedly owned by the big end of town as this Government. It shows nakedly in decisions at every level, from tax and welfare policy to public transport and energy strategy.

And this Government failing. The people who gave up months of their lives to help hold our Senate seat this April know it. The team who posted a historic effort for the Victorian Greens this last weekend know it. The Press Gallery knows it. Rupert Murdoch knows it. The polling companies know it.

For reasons unintended, this Government is unifying the Australian community. To everyone engaged in this project of taking our country back, not from this Government, but from the ideas that propel it, my warmest thanks and best wishes for a restful and peaceful break, time with families and loved ones. Thankyou for everything you do.