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Speech to the Don Dunstan Foundation (Julia Gillard)

Speech to the Don Dunstan Foundation (Julia Gillard)

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Published by Latika M Bourke

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Published by: Latika M Bourke on Mar 16, 2011
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09/11/2011

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SPEECH TO THE DON DUNSTAN FOUNDATIONADELAIDE16 MARCH 2011
 
It’s great to be back in Adelaide. The city of my childhood. The city where I received such a great education. The city where my parents gave me values for a lifetime. Today we celebrate the legacy of a remarkable Australian, Don Dunstan. Our nation has never seen a leader like him. Today many remember Dunstan primarily for being colourful. But we should also remember him for being courageous and clear-minded. Dunstan saw our nation not just as it was, but as it could be. Dunstan built acommunity based on innovation, creativity and ideas. I was shaped by the Dunstan era and its spirit of principled reform. Let me assure you, I won’t be wearing pink hot pants into parliament any time soon! But I do profoundly share his belief that we can envisiona better future and embrace the reforms that will help take us there. Dunstan understood that such leadership involved a choice between two pathways. Defence of the status quo, based on caution and fear. And an optimistic faith in the capacity of our people to embrace change. I hold that optimistic faith to the core of my being.
 
It is my belief. It is Labor’s belief. Tackling the big challenges and building a nation of opportunity and prosperity for all. We’ve done it before. Postwar migration and the Snowy scheme. Gough Whitlam’s renewal of our social fabric. Hawke and Keating opening our economy to the world.
 
 Today we must embrace another moment of decision for the future of our nation: adecision to cut carbon pollution and build a clean energy economy for the 21
st
century.
 
Neither of the extremes in Australian politics can deliver this reform. The Coalition has surrendered itself to fear-mongering and denying the power of markets. The Greens are not a party of government and have no tradition of striking thebalance required to deliver major reform. Like the economic transformation of the 1980s, thisis a reform that can only be handled in the progressive Labor tradition. We did it in the 1980s with the social wage and industry assistance that eased thepath of structural change. We will do the same this time, with generous assistance for households and supportfor business to adapt. In all of this, we draw strength from enduring Labor values: Protecting jobs – always our first commitment. A sustainable environment for future generations – an environment with less carbonpollution. Reform with equity, looking after those who need a helping hand. And accepting a scientific world-view in a community of reason. Friends, the second US President John Adams once famously said that “facts arestubborn things.” No opinion poll can change the fact that climate change is real. It is caused by human activity. And we must cut carbon pollution. In a nation rich in fossil fuels, I wish it were not so. But it is. Greenhouse gas levels are one-third higher than before the Industrial Revolution,and higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years. 
 
As a result, global temperatures have risen 0.7 degrees celsius over the past centuryand continue to rise. The last decade was the world’s hottest on record, warmer than the 1990s whichwere in turn warmer than the 1980s. In fact, globally 2010 was the equal warmest year on record, tied with 2005 and1998. 2010 is the thirty-fourth consecutive year with global temperatures above the20
th
Century average. In Australia, average temperatures have risen almost one degree since 1910,and each decade since the 1940s has been warmer than the one before. That warming is real. Its consequences are real. And it will change our lives in real and practical ways. More extreme bushfire conditions and droughts. Falling crop yields. Loss of species. Increased cyclone intensity. More days of extreme heat. Coastal flooding as sea levels rise. Bleaching of our coral reefs. And a substantial decline in alpine snow cover. Indeed, Professor Garnaut’s latest report indicates that the need to act is greater than ever. And the scientific consensus is stronger than ever. Given these realities, I ask who I’d rather have on my side: Alan Jones, Piers Akerman and Andrew Bolt. Or the CSIRO, the Australian Academy of Science, the Bureau of Meteorology,NASA, the US National Atmospheric Administration, and every reputable climatescientist in the world. 

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