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Crossbenchers demand Office of National Intelligence climate risk report

House and Senate crossbenchers have combined to slam the Albanese government for not delivering an "open and transparent conversation" about climate change as a security risk.

ACT senator David Pocock, Greens senator David Shoebridge, MP Helen Haines, Monique Ryan, Andrew Wilkie, and Kate Chaney have joined former Defence chief Chris Barrie in insisting on the release of a declassified version of the Labor-ordered and completed Climate Risk Assessment Report by the Office of National Intelligence (ONI).

(Rtd) Admiral Barrie, from the Australian Security Leaders Climate Group, has been calling for the report's release for months. The United States has several unclassified climate risk reports available to the public.

Both Senator Pocock and Senator Shoebridge attempted in the Senate on Thursday to get the government to table the report and related documents, but the Coalition teamed up with Labor to thwart the action.

The ACT senator said the ONI report was a Labor election promise and Australians deserved to know all the risks presented by climate change.

"It seems like the government is hiding behind national security and secrecy," Senator Pocock said.

"We're hiding behind secrecy. We're not telling the truth when it comes to climate change, and we're clearly not doing enough."

Admiral Barrie has accused Labor of dragging their heels over climate security ever since it has been in office.

Retired Admiral Chris Barrie. Picture by Keegan Carroll
Retired Admiral Chris Barrie. Picture by Keegan Carroll

"We're not getting an open and transparent conversation about the big issues of risk," he told reporters.

"And when the UN Secretary-General talks about climate boiling and you see the news coming out of Hawaii right now, we're going to have a very unbearable summer in some parts of Australia due to temperature in the near future.

"And we're very unprepared for dealing with that."

In June, the government released an unclassified 116-page version of the Defence Strategic Review, which warned climate change was a national security threat and might "significantly increase" the risk of conflict in the region.

The Canberra Times has sought comment from the Prime Minister's Office.

Karen Barlow

Chief Political Correspondent

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