Future generations will not thank this government

Post No. 6 'Future generations will not thank this government' was published on 24 May, 2021.

This piece was originally published in the Canberra Times.

I have lived my whole life in the Hunter Valley, and I’m proud of our region’s coal history.

My family has worked in the mines and on the rails for generations, helping to secure the “honour” of Newcastle being the world’s largest coal exporting port.

However, while it’s an achievement to be proud of, it also highlights the need to move forward.

It is time for Australia to turn the page on a new chapter in our industrial history.

That’s why last Friday I joined thousands of school students across Australia in the latest School Strike 4 Climate action, calling on Scott Morrison and the federal government to fund our future, not gas.

The school strike came three days after the federal government announced its decision to use $600 million of taxpayer funds to build a new gas-fired power station at Kurri Kurri, just a 40-minute drive from my home.

This was a betrayal that hit deep and hard.

Private companies are refusing to build the gas plant because they can see that it is unnecessary and does not make any economic sense.

It will operate only 2 per cent of the time, about a week per year, and will employ only 10 full-time workers once it’s built.

We don’t need this power station. It is a reckless waste of public money that will push up power prices, damage farmland and worsen climate change – something my generation will bear the brunt of.

How much more evidence do we need that a gas-led recovery is a bad bet for our economy, our manufacturing industry and our environment?

Instead of gifting even more public money to the fossil fuel industry, the government must support local communities by investing in renewable energy that creates jobs, provides cheap, clean power and supports farming.

Scott Morrison told world leaders at US President Joe Biden’s leaders’ summit that future generations will “thank us not for what we have promised, but what we deliver”.

However, the Morrison government is doing everything it can to slam on the accelerator in this climate crisis.

I cannot fathom how future generations can be thankful for that.

Australia is at a turning point.

We have the option to stay on the sinking ship that is the fossil fuel industry, or we can join the rest of the world in beginning the transition to a sustainable future with hydrogen and renewable industries.

The federal government needs to see sense, listen to what the community, and in particular young people want, and back renewable energy solutions over dirty gas.