Turning up the heat on the Minister for Finance
By Extinction Rebellion Australia, on 9 May 2022
As this country burns and floods, Minister Birmingham says that the Morrison Government is "over-achieving" on climate action.
Last year the federal government spent $10.5 billion of taxpayers’ money on tax credits and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.
In early May rebels were at the office of Federal Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, demanding an immediate end to fossil fuel subsidies and political donations from fossil fuel companies.
Deb's speech was read by Leena, as Deb couldn't attend due to Covid. Deb said earlier:
“Simon Birmingham first came into politics in 2013 as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister Responsible for Water policy. In his first speech to parliament, he identified climate change as a challenge for his generation, saying ‘the pursuit of truly renewable resources must be our ultimate goal’. So, I wonder what happened to that person, because he consistently funds policies that do the exact opposite!”
In her speech Deb said:
“I’ve been with XRSA since the start in 2019. One of the things we do in XR is try to offset non-violent civil disobedience with a regenerative culture: rage with love. I am motivated to do what I do by my love for the planet, the animals and insects, the plants, the skies and the water; by my love for my friends and families and humanity. But love isn’t enough … we also need our rage about climate change inaction, and we need to get that through to politicians. So here we are today, outside Senator Birmingham’s office, to show our rage and let him know that we need climate action right NOW!
“Since 2020 Simon Birmingham has been the Minister for Finance and the Leader of Government in the Senate. He is part of Morrison’s ‘leadership team’ and he is up for re-election. We are here today to show him that we are outraged about how he is spending our money!
“I don’t know about you, but I am angry that the Morrison Government has cut over $500 million from climate science and solutions. They have relentlessly rolled back effective climate policies and programs (such as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Energy Efficiency Opportunities Program), and ‘repurposed’ climate money for their gas-funded future (e.g. shifting money from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to the Grid Reliability Fund). Australia now pays just one-eighth of our ‘fair share’ (internationally speaking) in responding to climate change.
“This government has FAILED to acknowledge the truth about climate change! Our money is going up in smoke.
“I am outraged that the Morrison Government funded the fossil fuel sector by $10.5 billion in 2021-22. This is a 12% increase on the previous year and comes to nearly $29 million spent every day on fossil fuel funding. Most of this money is for fuel tax credits given to fossil fuel industries which is more than we pay to either the childcare industry or to Australian Army. Added to this are fossil fuel subsidies that have quadrupled since the previous year and now stand at $1.16 billion. This money is paying for a new gas fired power station and infrastructure for other fossil fuel projects – that we don’t need or want. It is appalling that 25% of the gas produced in Australia is used just to sell gas products overseas.
“I am frustrated by how political donations from the fossil fuel industry are distorting democracy. While we know that their donations to the major parties doubled in the last parliamentary term to nearly $2million – there is over $100 million that we know nothing about. If it really is $2million, then the political parties are selling themselves cheaply. For ‘just’ $2million – the fossil fuel industry reaps at least $10billion in return – that’s a 5000% return on investment. I would love to get that kind of return on my investments instead of the 5% interest I might get if I’m lucky. Not only that, it undermines democratic principles and the social contract: it has traded its duty of care for its people for its own political games with the fossil fuel industry.
“This government has FAILED to fulfill its democratic responsibilities!
“I am sick and tired of seeing our money go up in smoke as the Morrison government continues to fund, support and promote a fossil fuel future. So, today, lets show Senator Birmingham our rage. Let’s make some noise, wave our banners and show him that we need action on climate change right NOW.”
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