Independent MP Zoe Daniel has used her first speech in parliament to call for stronger action on climate change, gender equality and restoring public trust in leadership.
The former journalist spent years covering the aftermath of climate change-induced natural disasters and said the experience drove her to parliament.
Her electorate reflected a desire for more action on climate change and to restore trust in government, two pledges Ms Daniel made during the campaign.
“Enough waiting, enough obfuscating,” she told parliament.
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“It’s time to be fierce and to be brave, to represent community, to make hard decisions yet to lead with optimism.”
Ms Daniel welcomed the Albanese government’s demonstration of good faith negotiations on their climate change proposal so far.
Ending the climate wars will require “courage and ambition beyond politics”, she said.
“Deception, fear and division must end,” she said.
Along with her environmental concerns, Ms Daniel worries about the fragmentation of truth, trust and the danger it poses to Australia’s democracy.
She pledged to hold parliament accountable for rebuilding the trust with the establishment of a corruption commission, whistleblower protection and truth in political advertising.
Dressed in purple and white – the colours of suffragists like Vida Goldstein after whom her electorate is named – Ms Daniel paid tribute to the community that elected her.
The movement which put her in parliament wants reasoned discussion and collaboration to solve big challenges, Ms Daniel said.
Her community-backed campaign successfully ousted two-term Liberal MP Tim Wilson and turned a traditionally blue ribbon seat teal, the colour associated with independents at the 2022 election.
“For more than 100 years … the electorate of Goldstein had voted for men from the conservative side of politics,” she said.
“In 2022, Goldstein found its independent voice – a woman, at that!”
One of 13 independents on the parliamentary crossbench, Ms Daniel said she and her colleagues had a special place in their communities and parliament.
“We have been put in these seats for similar reasons by people who want honesty, sincerity and guts from their representatives,” she said.
“Unfettered by party lines, we can, and will, speak up.
“It is also my goal, and the goal of all the independents in this parliament, to behave and to deliver in a way which makes our nation proud.”