HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [9.52 pm]: I rise to say a few words in acknowledgement of the school strike that occurred last Friday. I came along to Parliament House and there were several hundred students here. They joined thousands and thousands of schoolkids across the nation who went on strike to demand action on climate change. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The energy, enthusiasm and commitment of these children and young people was absolutely fantastic to see. I am going to remind members that these people are the leaders of tomorrow. They have well and truly shown it in the way that they came out in force. I want to commend them because the logistical challenges of organising a rally like this across the nation was not small. They showed an extraordinary capacity to bring together a significant event. I commend them on the willpower and communication skills they demonstrated to enable this to occur.
I also commend them because we know that climate change is something that is very real and that is absolutely caused by human activity. It is not just coming but is here with us.
This is something that respected scientists have been saying for decades. Of course, the overwhelming consensus of the experts is that we are causing climate change faster than our environment can cope with it and, as a result, we will start to see more dramatic weather more frequently.
There were a lot of signs on the day and certainly a lot of anger and frustration about the lack of action to address the issue of climate change at the federal level, but the state government did not get off scot-free. Indeed, a lot of signs and messages demonstrated great concern, particularly with the state government’s decision about the future of fracking in WesternAustralia. I, too, share that concern. Ithink the decision to leave an area of Western Australia nearly the size of Tasmania available for fracking is an extremely poor one. One of the things I am particularly concerned about is that that demonstrates yet again that we are still not prepared to get serious about tackling climate change, and that is exactly what those young people were trying to make very clear.
We already know that in the south west of this state in particular, people live in the area that is the most vulnerable and sensitive to the effects of climate change. Indeed, state government agencies are looking ahead to mitigate and manage the effects of climate change because they acknowledge that climate change is such a real threat. I note that the Water Corporation’s marketing of water reduction this year is taking place within the framework of climate change, and that is appropriate. I note that the Department of Agriculture has a host of resources dealing with the likely effects of climate change on agricultural production to assist in mitigating the risks to agricultural producers. This is something that our state government agencies recognise is a real issue. At the heart of this, the decision to allow fracking to go ahead is another nod to keeping fossil fuels at the heart of our energy production. Regardless of where natural gas is extracted by fracking—whether it is here in Western Australia or whether it is exported overseas—it has to be burnt, so we will still feel the effects of fracking. The south west of Western Australia will continue to have longer, drier and hotter summers, and it will get even hotter in the north and central parts of the state. Here in WA, we will continue to see more extreme climate events more often. It is these children, these young people and this generation that will be left to deal with our ongoing refusal to face up to the realities of climate change and take real and decisive action to address it.
It is really important that members do not dismiss what these young people and children are saying. They are very passionate about this issue and are deeply informed. I was very, very impressed about their level of knowledge. We need to listen to them. It is their future we are stuffing up. I want to make sure that they receive the message that some people are listening to them. I really hope that we do not completely stuff their futures.