Richard Di Natale: I will work with Labor to get action on climate change

Greens leader also targets new prime minister and Coalition who he says ‘don’t deserve to govern’

Richard Di Natale
Richard Di Natale says Greens will work with Labor on climate but knows that major parties ‘won’t stand up to their corporate donors at the big end of town’. Photograph: Julian Smith/AAP

The Greens leader Richard Di Natale will promise to work with a new Labor government to get action on climate change back on track.

Di Natale makes the pledge in a landmark speech to be delivered on Monday in Melbourne, kicking off a national speaking tour that anticipates the major policy battles of the next federal election.

In a copy of the speech, seen by Guardian Australia, Di Natale promises more progressive policy on the environment, increasing Newstart and creating a publicly owned bank and energy company.

But while the bulk of the speech distinguishes the Greens’ offering from the two major parties, on climate change Di Natale says he wants to “make it clear – we’ll work with a new government to get climate action back on track”.

The comment suggests the Greens are keen to avoid a repeat of Labor’s last term in government, when its opposition to Kevin Rudd’s emission trading scheme led to the minority Gillard government legislating an interim carbon price only to see it repealed by the Abbott government.

With the Morrison government committing to the Paris agreement’s emissions reduction targets but with no mechanism to achieve them, Labor faces a policy test of its own in choosing whether to pursue its 45% renewable energy target through the Turnbull government’s national energy guarantee or through other means.

Di Natale says although the Greens will work with Labor on climate “we know that’s not enough” because the major parties “won’t stand up to their corporate donors at the big end of town”.

“They’ll let the Adani mine go ahead and destroy the Great Barrier Reef and oil companies contaminate our Great Australian Bight,” he says.

Di Natale says the “first priority” is to turf out the Coalition who “don’t deserve to govern”.

He says the decision to replace Malcolm Turnbull with Scott Morrison had brought to power “a man who brutally enforced inhumane policies towards asylum seekers and said to grieving families we aren’t going to let you attend the funerals of your dead children”.

The Greens leader also targets the new prime minister for bringing a lump of coal into parliament and making drought a priority of his government without acknowledging the link to climate change.

Scott Morrison brings a chunk of coal into parliament

Di Natale predicts political discourse at the next election “will be driven by fear and greed”. He warns of “fear in the form of an attack on migrants and multiculturalism, which by any definition has been an outstanding success”.

“Let’s not be diverted by allowing race-baiting and hate to be normalised and weaponised to turn neighbours against each other.”

The comments echo warnings from outgoing race commissioner Tim Soutphommasane that race politics are back in Australia.

Di Natale predicts parties will display “greed in the form of tax bribes that won’t solve the real economic issues Australians face and will leave corporate power untouched”.

He warns the Greens’ political opponents will “keep Newstart and Youth Allowance too low and the price of housing too high”.

“And they won’t close those offshore detention camps.”

Labor has promised to improve housing affordability through its plans to restrict negative gearing to new homes and reduce the capital gains concessions from 50% to 25%.

But it has only promised to review the level of Newstart, despite the fact the $38.98 a day payment for a single person hasn’t kept up with national living standards for more than a quarter of a century.

Bill Shorten has pledged not to change the Coalition’s immigration policies including turnbacks of asylum seeker boats and offshore detention for people seeking asylum.

Di Natale reiterates Greens pledges to reform donations, create a federal independent commission against corruption, and a publicly-owned bank and publicly-owned energy company.

He also argues that Australia needs to “change the face of our parliament” to reflect diversity with more “people of colour, people with disabilities, single parents, artists, scientists [and] young people”.