Today we spoke with the senator for Western Australia, Jordon-Steele John and put him through our strict interviewing process on why he should be endorsed as our first Climate Leader in the Senate for the 2019 federal election. Here’s the full interview below.
Why did you decide to run in 2016?
What has it been like as the youngest ever Senator? How would Parliament benefit from more young people in office? It’s been challenging, exciting and eye-opening. It’s also completely solidified my belief that our political system needs to look more like the community it is supposed to be representing. Until our parliament reflects the diversity we see in our society, we won’t see change on some of the most important issues we’re all fighting. This is particularly true for young people who make up such a large portion of our society, yet have barely any representation at a Federal level!
What are some of the issues unique to WA that you are standing for?
Our state is so vast, yet our population is concentrated in little tiny areas – the South West, Perth, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Karratha, Port Hedland, Broome. We have several different temperate zones from Coastal to tropical to deserts and alpine regions. Protecting our precious places, our incredible unique biodiversity and making sure that future generations can enjoy our beautiful state is what is most important to me. What’s also really important is making sure that we all have what we need to live a good life – quality healthcare, support services and education – and that people who do live outside of the metro area can access the same quality of services as the rest of us.
As part of our youth-approved criteria, every Climate Leader must listen to climate experts and accept the scientific consensus. Can young people rely on you to develop a climate policy based on scientific evidence?
What do you believe are the systemic causes of climate change here in Australia?
A reliance on mining and resource extraction, and a huge export market. We may only contribute about 1.3% of the world’s emissions but the coal that we export means we are the 6th largest contributor of greenhouse gases. We’re also the largest emitter per capita, therefore our responsibility is enormous and we must acknowledge it. (Garnaut, IPCC)
What do you believe are the systemic blockages of climate action in Australia, especially in politics?
Misinterpretation of the facts about our contribution and outright denialism of climate change, particularly in the LNP. The influence of big corporations cannot be understated in the lack of political willpower to properly address climate change.
Young people are calling on politicians to make Australia carbon neutral (i.e. net-zero carbon emissions) by 2045 at the latest, but ideally 2035. Every Climate Leader must have a policy toolkit to begin this shift, could you please tell us your current policy and action plans to help Australia move towards net-zero emissions?
The Greens are the only party with a comprehensive plan to address Climate Change:
– 100% Renewable energy by 2030
– 184,000 new jobs in renewable industries
– No new petrol/diesel cars by 2030
– A transition plan for every coal or gas-fired power stations
– A transition plan for every fossil fuel worker into new, sustainable industries
– Net-Zero Carbon Emissions in Australia by 2035
More information can be found here: https://greens.org.au/platform/renewables
To be a Climate Leader you must not accept campaign contributions from coal, gas or oil companies, do you agree?
100%. The Greens have NEVER taken corporate donations and believe donations reform is one of the key policy ways to ensure that our democracy works better for people and planet, not corporate profits.
The proposed Adani-Carmichael mine in Queensland will be one of the largest Australia, it is proven that it will violate health and safety laws and have a devastating impact on the climate. What is your policy on support for this project?
We have never supported the Adani-Carmichael project, nor do we support any other new fossil fuel project including fracking in the Beetaloo Basin. If you say you have a plan for climate change – as the major parties do – then you can’t have a plan for coal or indeed any new fossil fuel projects.
Finally, how have you yourself, as an everyday Australian, attempted to reduce your own carbon footprint?
Absolutely. I don’t drive, my house has solar panels and I try to live with the smallest possible carbon footprint that I can – keeping in mind that I’m required to fly to Canberra regularly!
Do you believe Australia’s Indigenous people face systemic inequality? If so, how can politicians shift this?
Sovereignty in this country was never ceded by our First Nations peoples and to truly ‘close the gap’ we must recognise and acknowledge this, work with First Nations people to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart and embrace the concept of treaty or treaties. Until we listen to our First Nations people the systemic inequality faced by the community will continue.
The team at Climate Leaders are firm believers of equality, diversity and inclusivity, one of the issues raised has been the discrimination of LGBTQI+ students and gay conversion therapy. What are your stances on these issues?
The Greens have always championed LGBTQI+ rights and believe that the concept of gay conversion therapy is abhorrent, and should not be allowed. Regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, culture, religion or ability, every single Australian has a right to live their life free from discrimination.
Another key social issue is the offshore detention of refugees and asylum seekers, do you believe Australia should cease offshore detention or support medical evacuation?
The policy of offshore detention – supported by both the major parties – is absolutely cruel and abhorrent. The Greens have always believed that people seeking asylum should be embraced as we are a wealthy and multicultural country. If we engage if conflicts overseas as part of our commitments to NATO and other international treaties and alliances then we must accept responsibility for people who are displaced by those conflicts and do what we can to help, including welcoming them into our country with open arms.