29 March 2017
The Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk MP
Premier of Queensland
PO Box 15185
City East (Brisbane) QLD 4002
Dear Ms Palaszczuk,
I have just heard you on the Radio National Breakfast program discussing the aftermath of the cyclone that buffeted your state’s coast. You concluded the interview asking people elsewhere in Australia to visit Queensland after the damage is cleared to ‘show their support’. OK, will do! First, however, how about you show your support for state, country and the planet by stopping the Adani mine?
I write as a ‘concerned citizen’ and former Queensland resident. I also write as a parent of teenagers – worried about the world they will inherit; a lifelong environmentalist; a Master of Environmental Management student (UNSW); a Climate Reality Leader in Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project and, a member of the Australian Labor Party (and Labor candidate for Warringah at the 2016 federal election).
Given my lifelong political affiliation, it greatly disappoints to write this letter. I expect better from Labor in Queensland. The Adani mine must be stopped and you can do it. You can do it in a practical sense. You can do it in a political sense. More importantly, you must do it in ecological, economic and social senses.
More than any other state in Australia, Queensland has the most to lose from climate change:
- You will bear the brunt of more frequent and ferocious storms on the coast while the inland will be subject to more fierce and regular fires and floods, costing lives, dislocating communities and causing billions of dollars worth of damage.
- The Great Barrier of Reef is dying. One of the world’s icons is on death watch under your watch. It is also a huge tourism attraction generating billions in revenue for the state and employing hundreds of thousands of people. A reef in decline is an ecological and social tragedy. It is an economic catastrophe for Queensland.
- Rising seas levels will encroach and then inundate coastlines over the next few decades – threatening low lying communities in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Townsville and Cairns (among many others). This will cost billions of dollars in compensation and assistance and cause enormous social dislocation for hundreds of thousands of people.
- Your state will be among the first impacted by a growing number of health related issues associated with climate change (not including injury from weather related events). Areas prone to mosquito borne diseases will move south from the tropics; heat stress will increase and, depression and anxiety will grow amongst the wider population due to the ecological, economic and social impacts.
- There will be significantly less land available for viable agriculture due to rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and drought, costing billions of dollars in lost revenue and dramatically impacting farmers and regional communities.
- Physical fitness and your ‘famous’ outdoor lifestyle will be impacted. It will be too hot to play, train or relax outdoors as streets, public areas and fields will be scorched by the sun or soaked by tropical downpours. The cry of “Queenslander!” will be a distant memory.
- Residents and business will consume more energy as they will have to run cooling systems for longer and spend money on climate proofing their properties from the heat and storms and or relocating to higher ground or fire safe areas.
Given the indisputable evidence on the impact of climate change on Queensland, it is astounding that you ‘green light’ and champion the Adani mine, other fossil fuel developments and vast land clearing. This is ecological, economic and social vandalism at its worse. I absolutely get the need for job creation and supporting people and communities dependent on mining. You, however, are looking in the ‘rear vision mirror’. The renewable energy revolution is underway and it is unstoppable. The world doesn’t need new fossil fuel developments for both supply and consumption. There are faster, cleaner and cheaper ways.
I urge you to be bold, courageous and visionary and think medium to long term. Please invest in jobs of the future, such as those in renewable energy generation and storage. This investment, of course, should be matched with assistance for just transitions for impacted workers, dependent communities and industries.
It saddens me that a Labor Government would act against the best ecological, economic and social interests. This isn’t ideology. This is common sense. We are the party of doing what’s right in the wider interest – be it for the country or the planet. Your support of the Adani development is contrary to our fundamental values and does nothing to support our widely applauded Climate Change Action Plan taken to the 2016 federal election. As Al Gore says, “We must, we can, and we will solve the climate crisis”. In Australia, stopping the Adani mine, new fossil fuel developments and vast land clearing are just some of the many ways we can do our bit to address this existential issue.
Please reconsider your position and be remembered as a visionary rather than a vandal. It is the right thing to do. It is the Labor thing to do. You can do it.
The Hon Bill Shorten MP, Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.
The Hon Mark Butler MP, Shadow Minister for Climate Change (Federal) and National President of the Australian Labor Party.