Thursday, 26 November 2015
Matters of Public Importance
The two things come out of this discussion. First, Labor wants to bring back the carbon tax. No matter what else they say, they want higher electricity prices, they want higher gas prices, they want a higher cost of living and they want to make sure that Australian farmers are paying higher prices for fertilisers. Second, they are just a little bit embarrassed and disappointed that we are meeting our targets, that we are beating our targets, and that we are doing it without their carbon tax. Let me say something about our targets and their targets, about policies under us and under the Labor Party and also about some of their sources.
Let me begin with the issue of targets. We do share some common targets, but there is one small difference. In 2012, when they left office, they left a gap of 755 million tonnes between what they predicted would occur and what was needed to meet their targets. There was a gap of 755 million tonnes. Under us that gap has dropped to 421 million tonnes, and then 236 million tonnes and, now, we have reached a point of meeting and beating our targets officially, with yesterday's formal update from the Department of the Environment before the Paris conference. It shows that we have had a reduction in predicted emissions of 264 million tonnes since the last update. The last update was the one they referred to yesterday in question time. When I asked them to table that update, they would not do it—they would not do it because they knew they were using figures that had already been superseded by the latest formal departmental assessment. It was a moment of cringeworthy embarrassment on their behalf.
As a consequence of that, we see a deep sense of shame on their behalf because we are meeting and beating our targets, and now they are arguing there should be higher emissions, from some of the interjections that we hear from our friends on the other side. It has reached the point of absurdity, so much so that yesterday the shadow minister held a press conference decrying not just their own rules, not just the United Nation's rules, but the very thing they demanded. He said it was an outrage that Australia is using carryover from the previous international assessment period. I did some research last night, and I found a little document. This document is called Submission under the Kyoto protocol: Quantified emission limitation or reduction objective (QELRO)—November 2012. In other words, it was the Australian submission to the United Nations in relation to our targets, known in the trade as QELROs.
Australia signed up to new targets: this is the minus five per cent equivalent or the minus 13 per cent from 2005 to 2020. Under Labor, they did that on the basis that confirmation of its provisional QELRO will be conditional on—in other words they said the only way we are accepting these targets will be conditional on:
The rules applying to carryover of units from the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol being appropriate for Australia.
They set, not just as an objective but as a condition for signing on, that carryover can be available. The UNFCCC did that for a reason. They did that for every country. They did that in a way that allowed Australia to do that, and they did that because it provides incentives for countries to overachieve. So there is a deep, powerful policy objective behind this. Labor incorporated this in its national accounting rules. Labor counted this carryover, and I am not critical of any of that. In fact, Labor made their participation in the entire set of target frameworks conditional upon setting carryover—it is there in black and white, and I table the conditions.
But yesterday they said it is an accounting trick that the coalition government would use our rules. That argument seems to have disappeared from his protestations today, because it took them three hours to work out that it was not just their rules, not just the UN rules, but it was their demanded conditions that these accounting frameworks be allowed. So we have not changed anything, except we have reduced emissions.
We have reduced emissions not just by the 755 million tonnes but by 783 million tonnes in total since we came into government. What does that represent? That represents 98 million tonnes a year over the eight years of the second period. That represents a reduction of almost 100 million tonnes per year on average on our watch compared with Labor's last prediction. That is an astonishing outcome. It defies every prediction that they and their favoured modellers have made—and, by the way, only a year ago their favoured modellers made a prediction that we would be more than 500 million tonnes short. But they are still stuck in the past. The department has got it right. What is interesting is that they were 500 million tonnes out, for the latest auction they were $500 million out, and then—my favourite—for the first of the emissions reduction fund auctions, their favoured modellers said that the 'absolute maximum' outcome would be nine million tonnes. Well, it was 47 million tonnes—more than 500 per cent greater than their favoured modellers had predicted. I think that they might need to find a new set of favoured modellers going forward.
But then we turn to policies. We don't have just one or two. We have six significant complementary policies to achieve our outcome. Firstly, the Emissions Reduction Fund, which has achieved 92.8 million tonnes of abatement over its first two auctions, at an average price per tonne of $13.12—that is one per cent of Labor's $1,300 per tonne of abatement under the carbon tax. Beyond that, we have a safeguard mechanism that will save 200 million tonnes over the course of the period out to 2030, and we have the renewable energy target, on which we have settled on a bipartisan agreement. Going forwards from here are three further mechanisms. Firstly, we have the National Energy Productivity policy, which is expected to save 150 million tonnes, which the Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia is expected to release within the next two weeks. Secondly, we have already commenced the vehicle emissions reduction process, which will save over 90 million tonnes between now and 2030. Thirdly, we have the ozone gas revisions, which are likely to save an additional 80 million tonnes between now and 2030. It is not just a set of policies, it is a comprehensive framework.
By comparison, what do we have from the ALP? Let us ask ourselves: has anybody seen their policy document? After all this time, it does not exist. There was a leaked document, obviously designed to kill their own policy, which was given to The Daily Telegraphyou will all remember a $600 billion cost for their favoured policy. But what we see now is that their renewable energy target is on some days a target and on other days an aspiration. We do not have a set of international targets, although I am told that they will pick the minus 26 to minus 28 per cent but bring it forward to 2025—you heard it here first. Let's see how they are going achieve it. The most fascinating thing is that we do not have a scintilla of a mechanism from them after all of the discussions about the Emissions Reduction Fund, about the safeguard mechanism and about the renewable energy target.
We have six significant elements on our side. We have overachievement in our targets, we have overachievement in our Emissions Reduction Fund, but on their side of the house: no targets, no policy, no hope, and just an approach of higher prices for mums and dads across Australia—their approach to climate change is a disgrace. (Time expired)