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Senate Hearing

On Thursday 22nd February, the Senate Committee for Environment and Communications held a public hearing in Canberra into the Duty of Care Bill.

The Committee invited a range of experts to give evidence about the Bill, including impacts on the health and wellbeing of children, operation and impact. People who appeared before the committee included medical professionals such as pediatricians and general practitioners, frontline workers such as firefighters, academics, lawyers and First Nations individuals.

Medical experts gave evidence that the health of children born today will be fundamentally shaped by climate change in addition to increased rates of miscarriages and stillbirths. Emergency leaders gave evidence that the Bill is key in ensuring that strategic decisions are made to avoid short-termism at the cost of the climate for young people and future generations. Lawyers gave evidence that the Bill is a logical progression from the case of Sharma and others v. Minister for the Environment, in which the Chief Justice of the Federal Court indicated that the question of a duty of care sits with our parliament.

“We’ve run out of runway. There is no time left. We do need to get a decision on some sort of mechanism to allow the concept proposed by Senator Pocock to become some sort of reality” - Emergency Leaders for Climate Action

The Committee also heard from a youth panel, composed of representatives from School Strike for Climate, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Seed Mob and Anjali Sharma from the Duty of Care team. The youth panel gave evidence about the need for legislation that specifically protects the health and wellbeing of young people in the face of climate change, as their generation will inherit a world shaped by the decisions made in parliament today.

The Committee will now hand down its report into the bill on the 27th March.

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