In the media

Independent MPs stand united on need to legislate Duty of Care Bill to protect future generations

Media release, 27 June 2024

Independent MPs have united in their call for the Albanese Government to urgently legislate a Duty of Care that would force governments to consider the impact of climate harm on young people’s wellbeing when making decisions.

The renewed calls for a legislated Duty of Care come after a Labor-led Senate Committee last night recommended that Senator David Pocock’s Duty of Care Bill not be passed.

In their response, crossbenchers said young people deserve better than lip service from the major parties and that governments owe a duty of care to protect young people against climate change harms. They also said the Duty of Care Bill would do nothing more than legislate what people already assume is happening when governments are making decisions that impact on the ability to create a liveable future for young people.

Kylea Tink Member for North Sydney said: “Australian politics is blighted by self-interest and short-termism. This government is failing young Australians through the decisions they are making. That’s why a legislated Duty of Care is so sorely needed. In almost every aspect of life we recognise we have a duty of care to others. A duty to ensure our decisions and actions do not negatively impact someone else. Why is it acceptable for our Government not to be held to that same standard? Legislating a Duty of Care is not radical, it is nothing more than what every day Australians expect from our government. The government should show they take generational inequity seriously by legislating a Duty of Care immediately.”

Kate Chaney Member for Curtin said: “So many young people I speak to are disillusioned about government’s willingness to make decisions in their interests. As well as facing unaffordable housing and HECS debts, they are worried about the unliveable planet we are likely to leave them. While we can’t prevent the poor policies of previous governments, we can do something about the decisions made today and in the future by legislating a Duty of Care Act. It’s not a radical proposal - parliaments should always be thinking about the long-term interests of the communities we serve.”

Zoe Daniel Member for Goldstein said: “Without legislated duty of care we are condemning our children to a continent where fewer flowers flourish and more endangered animals are extinct; where their health and wellbeing will suffer; where their prosperity will be jeopardised. And we’re failing to take responsibility for it. We must, unless we want to be the parents who leave a lower standard of living and a lesser quality of life to future generations.”

Dr Helen Haines Member for Indi said: “We look to young people for reassurance our future is in safe hands. The Duty of Care Bill is a sensible piece of legislation, the hard work of smart and engaged young people, that holds decision-makers accountable to the long-term consequences of their actions. I support all steps we can take to ensure a prosperous, abundant and climate-safe future for young people and the generations that follow.”

Dr Monique Ryan Member for Kooyong said: “Too often, politicians care more about the next election than the next generation. Children will suffer 90 percent of the burden of death and disability caused by climate change. As UNICEF has said, the climate crisis is a child rights crisis. Every generation has a responsibility to the next. If we don't care about and act on climate change, we are abdicating that responsibility.”

Dr Sophie Scamps Member for Mackellar said: “Legislating the Duty of Care Bill was an opportunity for Australia to be a world leader when it comes to long term political decision making by embedding the consideration of future generations into the process. We are facing multiple crises right now from climate and environment to housing. Short-termism defines our decision making. As a former GP, I had a duty of care to my patients so why shouldn’t our government have a duty to protect our children and the generations to come.”

Allegra Spender Member for Wentworth said: “Young people are pleading with the government to take action on the climate crisis. Our children and grandchildren will have to deal with the droughts, floods and fires caused by climate pollution, long after the politicians of today are gone. We owe it to future Australians to enshrine a duty of care in our climate and environmental laws. This should have been done a long time ago.”

Zali Steggall Member for Warringah said: “The damage being done to Australia’s economic prosperity, environment and our health and wellbeing will progressively worsen for our children and future generations without essential climate action and leadership. Australian legislation is currently inadequate in addressing the human rights implications of climate change for future generations, and risks further increasing generational inequity. While governments should have acted earlier to address this, the next best time for action is now.”

ENDS

 

About the Duty of Care Bill:

The Duty of Care Bill aims to introduce two conditions to existing legislation, including the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). These conditions mandate that decision-makers consider the climate impact on current and future children, and prevent decisions that pose a material risk of harm. This Bill follows a landmark Federal case highlighting the government’s duty to protect children from the impacts of climate change. The campaign has garnered significant support from young people and independent MPs advocating for intergenerational equity.


For more information contact: Chris Williams – 0480 376 879 / [email protected]

 

 

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