Politics

Please Enjoy Janet Rice Pulling Faces Behind Malcolm Roberts As He Says Stupid Shit

Welcome back, Senator Roberts.

Malcolm Roberts Janet Rice

The only bright side to One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts’ return to Parliament this year has been other people’s reactions to his presence. Today we bring you a doozy from Greens Senator Janet Rice, who started pulling faces behind Roberts today while he was speaking in the Senate.

It’s especially cheeky, seeing as Rice appears to have moved seats in order to pull faces behind Roberts — a quick check of the Senate seating plan for this year reveals that this is not usually her seat. She even managed to make sure the camera caught it.

Roberts seems to have had no idea she was there — he was quite busy trying to argue that black lung disease is not actually caused by coal.

“Mr President, I am appalled that the Greens would take this opportunity to deride the coal miners of Queensland and of NSW, and indeed the world,” he was saying, as Rice poked her tongue out. “Black lung is a function of poor management, not a function of coal.”

“We need to make sure that the truth is being told in this chamber, because black lung will only be eradicated again if the truth is told and the science is followed.”

Black lung disease, if you’re not aware, is a disease that frequently affects coal miners, who inhale a lot of coal particles in the course of their work. It’s an incurable disease, and while wearing proper masks and equipment to avoid inhaling coal dust can help prevent it (we assume this is what Roberts means by “management”), it’s pretty hard to say it’s not being caused by coal.

In any case, the bigger picture here was actually a motion to support Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project, which the entire Senate (except for the Greens) ended up voting to support. Black lung only came up in the first place because the Greens were pointing out a whole heap of reasons not to support the mine.

“The Carmichael mine is not the way to deliver jobs for regional Queensland,” is how Greens senator Larissa Waters put it. “What it will deliver is more support to a tax-dodging multinational coal company, who have said they want to automate this project from pit to port. So, more robots, and if there are any workers then they’ll be suffering from black lung disease, which is back in Queensland as you well know, and starting to kill coal mine workers.”

“Not to mention the fact that half of the reef has already been killed from climate change, which is driven and turbo-charged by coal. We can have jobs in the regions, we can have prosperity, we can keep the lights on, and also save the planet, if we actually fund renewable energy projects rather than coal projects.”

“It’s disappointing to see this old drum being banged by a party that purports to represent farmers, who are having their lives and their waters trashed by fossil fuels.”

The fact that the only part of that speech that Malcolm Roberts could argue against was the black lung bit is pretty telling. And the fact that the Senate went ahead and voted to support Adani anyway is, quite frankly, depressing. Thanks to Janet Rice for at least bringing a bit of levity to her protest today.