House debates

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Bills

Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Manufacture Levy) Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, True-up Shortfall Levy (General) (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, True-up Shortfall Levy (Excise) (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, Climate Change Authority (Abolition) Bill 2013, Customs Tariff Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, Excise Tariff Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates and Other Amendments) Bill 2013, Clean Energy Finance Corporation (Abolition) Bill 2013; Consideration in Detail

3:36 pm

Photo of Justine ElliotJustine Elliot (Richmond, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

We on this side of the House accept the fact that climate change is real and we accept the science on this, which is in stark contrast to those opposite. We accept the scientific facts that are clearly telling us that human activity is causing climate change and will continue to grossly affect our economy and our way of life. We accept that and we accept the need to be taking action. And, because we accepted that and knew that we needed to act, in government we did act. I will remind the previous speaker, the member for Longman, of the comprehensive assistance packages that we had in place. So we made sure that we acted, but we also had an assistance package there for many people. Indeed, many people in my electorate received comprehensive amounts of assistance in relation to the policies that we brought in.

The truth is that a price on carbon pollution can work and has been working. Yet now this government is removing effective action on reducing carbon emissions. That is exactly what they are doing. It is irresponsible and it really is representative of this government's environmental vandalism and lack of understanding of the need to act effectively to combat dangerous climate change.

This bill, the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, that is being put forward by the Prime Minister and the Liberal-National Party really dismantles our nation's scientific and very rational approach to tackling climate change. We on this side of the House know that it is vitally important to be taking that action for future generations, and not just for our environment but for our economy. The two are linked and indeed they support one another.

This is a view expressed by many people in my electorate of Richmond. I am very fortunate to have many very committed local individuals and groups who, for a long time, have strongly advocated for government to take action on climate change. That is why, when in government, we did act. And those same constituents in my electorate are bitterly disappointed about the actions now of the Abbott government and have expressed that to me on many occasions.

We see, nationwide and internationally, every day, more and more, the impacts of climate change. We see the massively varied weather patterns, oceans rising and increases in natural disasters. In many ways, this bill sums up this new government's attitude to the science of climate change. They are indeed a party of climate change deniers. Even in the face of the overwhelming scientific evidence emerging that mankind is directly contributing to the increasing pace of global warming, what do they do? They just do not believe it; they ignore it and refuse to take effective action. As we know from the Prime Minister's own words, he thinks it is 'absolute crap'. That is his summation of it. So this bill is not just about their actions in trying to stop carbon pricing; it is really representative of their obsession surrounding climate change denial.

What is also really distressing about this bill is that it is not just repealing the pricing of carbon. It is also going to be dismantling the Climate Change Authority, a really important body set up to give independent and scientific advice on renewable energy and on caps and targets on carbon pollution to the government.

The bill is also abolishing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a really important body that was set up to help get new commercial renewable projects started, to provide fantastic financing and incentives in all those important areas. Indeed, this bill will severely damage the clean energy industry—an industry that Australia takes great pride in and excels in. But all we hear from those opposite is about their so-called direct action; I think it is more 'direct inaction', with their bizarre policies of magic trees and magic soils which just will not work.

Let us compare ourselves to the rest of the world. Throughout the world we see that many countries are taking action on climate change through emissions trading schemes. More than 30 other countries have carbon pricing schemes. In fact, as we have heard from other speakers today, China has an emissions trading scheme set up in many of its provinces, Germany has an ETS, the United Kingdom has an ETS and France has an ETS. Even many states in the USA are now legislating to introduce an ETS. So many other countries in the world are acting, and it really is quite embarrassing to see Australian now going backwards on what really was effective action to tackle climate change. Now that we are moving backwards it is quite embarrassing for us on the world stage.

On this side of the House, our position is to support the policy we took to the federal election: we wanted to terminate the carbon tax and introduce an emissions trading scheme. Of course, those amendments were refused earlier in the day, but we are absolutely committed to making sure we have an emissions trading scheme. We know that moving towards that and having that market based system is the most effective way to be tackling climate change. That is the action that we should be taking.

In the closing moments, I will talk about some of the long-term economic benefits for places in my area, the North Coast of New South Wales, and for places just above that in South-East Queensland. We will rely in our future on tourism, and we need to take action to make sure we protect the very pristine environment that we have there. So I do find it absolutely remarkable that members of this House are not working with us to make sure we protect the environment for the future.

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