I’ve been a member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) since I was 16. Before Kevin Rudd was leader and led the party to Government in 2007. Before Julia Gillard deposed him. Before the internecine war that followed his loss and destroyed the party’s prospects in last month’s election. Before Gillard got caught in a maelstrom of hate by announcing she would legislate a price on carbon.
I write these things because in spite of them I remain dedicated to the cause. Dedicated to a party that has the history, the guts and the determination to make a difference. To truly enrich the lives of ordinary Australians. I initially joined the ALP because I was outraged at the Howard Government’s decision to introduce WorkChoices. Even at 16, it was clear to me that WorkChoices represented something manifestly unfair.
WorkChoices might be gone, but the Labor project of equality – to repair those parts of our society that are unfair – has marched on. A project that is committed to bringing superfast and affordable Internet to every Australian; a project that believes a child’s postcode should never determine their opportunities in life; a project committed to permanent and ongoing support for Australians with a disability.
It’s a commitment to equality that shouldn’t begin and end in an election cycle. It is a contract owed to the generations of Australians who will inhabit this great, beautiful land in fifty years time and in five hundred years time.
Generations who won’t know what the fuck Electricity Bill was, who will learn about Gillard’s decision to legislate a price on carbon not in a cheap sound bite delivered by Tony Abbott but in a history textbook that celebrates her courageous decision to take action.
Putting a price on carbon, and taking genuine action against climate change is a central part of this intergenerational contract.
It’s not enough to say you believe climate change is real, but will support the end of meaningful action against it. It’s not enough to let the Coalition scrap the carbon price and introduce an expensive and ineffective policy to try and combat the problem. While the ALP dithers, Australia is already burning.
The kind of commitment the ALP makes in regards to climate change will starkly highlight what kind of party rises in the ashes of last month’s devastating election loss. Whether it chooses to be a party of purpose or one directed only by expediency. A party whose philosophy will always be shaped by a steadfast commitment to equality or one that is only committed when it is politically convenient.
History will be kind to those who always fought for action against climate change. This member might not be if the ALP doesn’t continue that fight now.