“Having kids focuses the mind about what kind of world they’re going to grow up in,” Mr Bandt said.
“Wanting to be able to say that I did everything I could to tackle the climate crisis is something that’s important to me. I think this gives us a good opportunity to do that. I’m doing it for them and because of them.”
Ms Perkins – who works part-time as a yoga teacher and was an adviser to former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard – supports her husband’s political career for the same reasons.
“What he’s doing is the best way that we’re going to get change,” she said.
“There are definitely sacrifices that I make so that he can do what he does. But climate change is the most important thing that we have to fix at the moment.”
In 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported average temperature increases could be kept to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels but would require a “global transformation” and “ambitious mitigation actions”.
Mr Bandt said FaceTime with his daughters is a “godsend” when he is away, and when he is home, he prioritises time with Wren and Elke.
“I think part of the key to it, when I’m at home, is being fully present,” he said. “I’ll be the first one to get up whenever they get up … and then sit with them on the couch and just spend a good hour or so alone with them, reading some stories and having a chat.”
The family also has important routines such as Sunday morning swimming at the local pool, and has just booked the girls in for another year of lessons. “It’s my hope to continue to do things like that,” Mr Bandt said.
Mr Bandt said he meets a lot of young people and children who are anxious about what climate change will mean for their futures.
“One of the most unexpectedly challenging parts of this job is talking to school students about climate change,” he said. “Not wanting to lie [to them], but on the other hand wanting to ensure that there’s hope. I reckon there’s a lot of parents going through that balancing act as well.”
He and Ms Perkins have not yet had a discussion with their young daughters about climate change, although they have taken them to rallies. “We talk about wanting clean air and clean water and looking after the animals,” he said.
Ahead of the next federal election, Mr Bandt wants to develop a sweeping economy-wide plan to address climate change, social inequality and jobs (a “Green New Deal”).
A significant component of this will be a childcare policy, which the party took to the 2019 election. Mr Bandt said he wants to see 80 per cent of Australian families receive free childcare and abolish the “activity test” (that requires parents to work to qualify for subsidies).
This would cost about $4.8 billion a year as of 2021-22. Mr Bandt said the party would fund the extra spending out of the Greens’ plan to increase taxes on top income earners and companies earning over $10 million a year, which was estimated to generate $16.8 billion as of 2019.
“We have to start thinking about childcare as an essential service that’s free and universally available,” he said.
“It’s something we’ve lived through as a family and it’s something that I think men need to talk and think about more. Because it has an impact on family life and it particularly has an impact on women’s lives and particularity on whether they can return to work.”
Judith Ireland is a political reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House