IGS students ‘inspiring and reassuring’

The IGS Sustainable Futures had the pleasure of meeting with the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP via Zoom on Wednesday 28 July.

Tanya is the Shadow Minister for Education, Shadow Minister for Women, and the Federal Member for Sydney.

Between 2013 and 2019, Tanya was Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. From 2013 to 2016, she was also the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development.

Tanya served as a Cabinet minister in the Gillard and Rudd Governments. Tanya was Minister for Health, Minister for Medical Research, Minister for Housing, Minister for Human Services, Minister for Social Inclusion, and Minister for the Status of Women.

IGS Principal Shauna Colnan and Head of Sustainability Carmelo Fedele welcomed the Federal Opposition member Ms Plibersek before students Euan, Alea, Tilli, Nate and Jack asked tough questions on Climate Change.

Sustainable Futures Leader of Activism Alea asked Ms Plibersek what her goals were for climate action and sustainability, and in particular questioned her thoughts on logging.

“Logging is an area of enormous opportunity,” Ms Plibersek said.

“We need to make it more attractive to people in regional communities, to protect the bush that we’ve got left.

“There are strategies that scientists have already identified. We just have not as a country made use of that science to give farming communities a revenue stream that would be more attractive than the money they get for cutting things down.”

Biodiversity Leader Nate asked how Ms Plibersek would uphold the rights of young people, particularly in relation to climate action.

“You are absolutely at the age where you know your own minds and you have a right to express your opinions. I really respect the way you are taking a stand,” Ms Plibersek said.

Principal Shauna Colnan added that IGS encourages students to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and that being active is an expression of hope in change for the better.

Euan said the recent debate surrounding the UNESCO classification of the Great Barrier Reef has shown young people the current Australian government is concerned more with the health of its international reputation than the health of its greatest natural wonder.

He asked Ms Plibersek what she would do to change this narrative and ensure that the Great Barrier Reef is around for future generations.

Ms Plibersek said Climate Change is the biggest threat to the reef.

“We can’t ask other countries to do their fair share if were not prepared to do ours. It has to be an international effort. We lose all credibility on the international stage if we don’t make a difference,” she said.

“We do also need to make specific measures, including reducing overflow water running into the reef. That we mandate vessels are crewed responsibly.”

Alea thanked Ms Plibersek for meeting with the IGS Sustainable Futures Club and asked what more they can do to promote sustainability.

“The first place is to talk to your parents about reducing their energy consumption,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Think about the people in your network who don’t agree, and think about how you can convince them over. Have those conversations as calmly as you can. That’s how change happens, one person at a time.”

Ms Plibersek congratulated IGS students on the work they have done.

“It’s so inspiring and reassuring to people like me, that your generation is so committed to action.”