Anthony Albanese blasted as ‘missing in action’ over climate security

This story by Karen Barlow first appeared in the Canberra Times on 13th September 2023.

Zoe Daniel said Australia has some of the world’s most vulnerable nations as neighbours, and I urge the national intelligence report’s release to help Parliament and communities prepare.

Former Defence Force chief Admiral Chris Barrie has blasted the Albanese government as being “missing in action” when it comes to climate security leadership.

Admiral Barrie and the former deputy chief of the Air Force, retired air vice-marshal John Blackburn from the Australian Security Leaders Climate Group, have again joined with House and Senate crossbenchers to demand an “open and transparent conversation” and release a declassified version of a top-level national security risk assessment of climate change for Australia.

The Prime Minister last month confirmed, in answers to questions on notice, that there are no current plans to release a version of the Labor-ordered Climate Risk Assessment Report by the Office of National Intelligence. He also stated there is “already considerable material available in the public domain.”

The Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles was asked about the risk assessment in question time on Wednesday by independent MP Kate Chaney, but apart from agreeing it was a “critically important issue” he did not say anything about a release. He said he was “very keen to engage” with the entirety of the Parliament about future planning.

Earlier, pointing to current catastrophic weather events in the northern hemisphere, including flooding in Libya and Greece, the MPs, senators and former Defence leaders said an information vacuum from the top is not good enough.

“We Australians have got to band together at community level, at local government level, state and territory governments, and we need some leadership from the damn federal government, which is missing an action,” Admiral Barrie said.

“You can’t work as a team. You can’t work out how we prepare for the changes that are coming unless you’re prepared to talk about the risks and vulnerabilities and be honest with the Australian population,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“The government is not being honest with us. It’s not having that discussion.

“We need leadership in this country. And we need the government to actually come out and tell us honestly what the assessment is. So we don’t have to argue with each other whether it’s real or not. It’s time for leadership.”
In answers to a series of questions on notice from Greens senator David Shoebridge, Mr Albanese stressed the timing, content and judgements of the assessment are classified.

“The National Assessment is an intelligence assessment and does not contain recommendations. The government’s considerations of the National Assessment are ongoing,” he stated in the answer.

“Along with the government’s Climate Statement, tabled in Parliament on 1 December 2022, there is already considerable material available in the public domain discussing national security threats from climate change.”

Former foreign correspondent and now independent MP Zoe Daniel said the scenes in Libya and Greece are reminders of her career visiting disaster zones.

She said Australia has some of the world’s most vulnerable nations as neighbours, and she urged the national intelligence report’s release to help Parliament and communities prepare.

“These are going to be vast changes to societies across the world,” she said.

“They will affect food production. They will affect housing. They will affect social and democratic structures and governance. They will affect the abilities of governments to manage their people. They will affect migration. All of those things are going to affect us.”



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