Abigail read out a speech written by high school student Alice Harrington, who recently completed work experience in our office. This is what Alice would like to say to the NSW Government.
I recently had a high school student in my office for work experience. Hearing directly from a young person their thoughts, opinions and perspectives is a really empowering thing. As you have noted, Mr Deputy President, Alice Harrington is in the gallery today. She is 16 years old, and this is what she would like to say to the New South Wales Government:
"In 1989 the Convention on the Rights of the Child was universally adopted as the first legally binding international text to protect children's rights. In 2022, as a citizen of Australia and New South Wales, you would think young people would not have to be reminding our government of our basic rights. However, with this government's lack of significant and immediate action on climate change, I as a child, have been forced to remind the NSW government of their legal obligation to protect my rights.
The children's rights that I would like to remind the House of are:
Article 6: Children have the right to live a full life. Governments should ensure that children survive and develop healthily.
Article 12: Children have the right to say what they think should happen when adults are making decisions that affect them and to have their opinions taken into account.
Article 24: Children have the right to … a clean environment.
Article 1: Everyone under 18 years of age has all the rights of this Convention.
Article 4: Governments should make these rights available to children.
I believe that the NSW Government is not protecting the rights of children with their climate policy making. Achieving net zero emissions well before 2050 is vital to protecting the rights of children in New South Wales, in Australia and across the world. If we continue at the current rate of our greenhouse gas production, increasingly severe disasters such as bushfires, floods and droughts will occur frequently. This will have major economic, political, and social impacts. In the 2019/2020 black summer bushfires 25 people in New South Wales directly lost their lives, and many more were killed due to smoke inhalation. 22 more people were killed in the horrendous floods seen in Northern NSW earlier this year. If we continue at this rate, these figures will only become more extreme. Soon, we will all know someone who has been killed by the climate disaster.
We have unequivocal scientific evidence that human activity has caused climate change. However, we also have unequivocal scientific evidence that humanity has the power to combat climate change. The rights of every child in New South Wales, as well as all the future children of the world, lay in the hands of this government. I implore you to consider the children in your own lives, who at this rate, will experience the dreadful effects of climate change on their futures. Protect their rights. Protect my rights. Protect all children's rights through strong climate policy."
See the full transcript in Hansard, here.