Pacific youth delegation "disappointed" by Canberra reception | Pacific Beat

Pacific youth delegation "disappointed" by Canberra reception

Pacific youth delegation "disappointed" by Canberra reception

Updated 28 May 2014, 17:36 AEST

A group of young leaders from Kiribati and Tuvalu in Canberra to call for a rethink of Australia's climate change policies says they were disappointed no members of the Abbott government would meet them.

The group however held meeting with several members of the opposition who they say agreed to support their call for Australia to cut its greenhouse gas emissions and to provide more assistance to the Pacific for climate change mitigation.

Maina Talia, spokesman for the group, says they told Australian politicians that the very survival of their of their culture and nations depended on action being taken to cut global greenhouse emissions.

Presenter: Brian Abbott

Speaker: Maina Talia, young leaders spokesman, Pacific Calling Partnership delegation

TALIA: Our mission was that we had a little bit of training in Sydney to do advocacy work and then we'll come down to Canberra to meet some of the politicians with the hope that we can inject some of the convincing ideas that we'll ask them to change their climate change policies.
ABBOTT: How accepting of your visit were politicians, did you mainly speak to the Opposition and Australian Democrat or were you welcomed just as much by Australian government members?
TALIA: Basically yes, we were supposed to meet some of the government members, but the problem, they had some other commitments. Upon our arrival, we only had a meeting with some of their officials in their office, but we didn't get the actual meeting with them, because they had some other commitments. But with the Opposition, yes, we did a great job with them. We spent some 35 minutes with them and it was good.
ABBOTT: This is 35 minutes with several different members of the Opposition?
TALIA: Yes, that's right, that's right.
ABBOTT: So what was your message to them?
TALIA: Well, our message to them, it's very simple and clear, is that Australia as a big brother, they should take the lead. Australia should take the lead in climate actions, telling the world, the industrialised world that Australia as a neighbouring country are taking care of the little brothers in the Pacific and especially, trying to convince them to change their climate change policies towards small island states.
ABBOTT: What did the Australian Opposition offer to do for you?
TALIA: What did they offer for us, is that they will do as much as they could in order to acknowledge publicly the pressure that we have and the conditions of the Pacific Islands, if Australia are not doing much. So yes, there were quite a lot of positive outcomes after our discussion yesterday and today.
ABBOTT: What sort of stories did you tell them about your home country of Tuvalu and how it is suffering already from climate change?
TALIA: Well basically, I told them that Tuvalu is a very small island nation, it only comprises of a population of around 10,000 to 11,000 people, with 27 square kilometres of land mass, which is something, a country that is most vulnerable to any external threat, such as climate change and the rate ?? related ?? of sea level rise. So what I told them, some practical stories that some of our islands has been submerged underwater and we're losing our lovely beaches to the sea and also our tradition root crops are dying out, because of the frequent visit of droughts and frequent visit of storm surge to the island. It really makes things more complicated and makes life more harder than the past, and especially, it disturbs our traditional way of living. So those kind of messages that I want to tell them and also I want to relay to them to have that in their mind and they have.
ABBOTT: And would that have been the same message you would have delivered if you were able to see members of the Australian government?
TALIA: Yes, yes, yes. If I have had a chance to talk to the Australian government ministers, that will be the same message that I will be sending to them. I'll be telling them that life is more complicated on ?? the island has become more harder than it used to be in the past.
ABBOTT: Do you feel disappointed that they weren't prepared to meet you, that no one from the Australian government wanted to meet members of your delegation?
TALIA: Oh yes, it was a great disappointment to them. We were expecting some of them to be on our agenda and we want to share some stories with them and to my great disappointment that none of them were able to talk to us. They had some other commitments coincidentally, so we didn't have a chance to talk to them.

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