House debates

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Bills

Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020, Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2019-2020; Second Reading

12:14 pm

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

My apologies. The Prime Minister has no plan to invigorate the economy by developing new technologies and new fuels. I note that both Japan and Korea have made hydrogen the centrepiece of their future energy strategies. Australia could develop an export industry to replace fossil fuels, which are quickly becoming redundant. Investment in large-scale renewables has fallen off a cliff since last year—a drop of 60 per cent—because this government keeps attacking renewables and will not provide policy certainty in the investment community. Instead, the Neanderthals within the coalition have given $4 million for a feasibility study into wasteful and expensive coal-fired power at Collinsville.

Only Labor will ensure that by 2050 the amount of pollution we release into the atmosphere will be no greater than the amount we absorb. Labor will not rely on Kyoto carryover credits to achieve this target. Professor Ross Garnaut, an expert on the economics of climate change, in his recent book, Superpower: Australia's low-carbon opportunity, writes:

I have no doubt that intermittent renewables could meet 100% of Australia's electricity requirements by the 2030s, with high degrees of security and reliability, and at wholesale prices much lower than experienced in Australia over the past half dozen years.

Garnaut says that the innovation and momentum released by the adoption of renewable technologies will set our economy up for the next century. New coal-fired power will push up power prices and make businesses less competitive. The electricity industry and investors have been crystal clear: they won't invest in new coal-fired power. Australia's energy future relies in renewable energy, because it's by far the cheapest form of electricity generation, and because it helps in the fight against climate change. A target of net zero emissions by 2050 is supported by everyone. Every major business group, every state and territory government, and other major corporations all support this target—and still the coalition refuses to shift course. The real question is not what it will cost to address climate change but what the cost of inaction is. This is the question the Prime Minister won't answer. The cost of not acting is more important—and we've seen the frequent natural disasters, such as the recent bushfires.

In these appropriation bills, we are paying a premium to rebuild our communities and support Australians affected by these events—events that are induced or exacerbated by climate change. And we'll continue to pay that premium for years to come, unless we act on climate change. The cost of not acting is a decline in global economic output of between 15 and 25 per cent. That's a bigger hit to the global economy than the Great Depression. If we don't meet the obligations of the Paris Agreement, it will cost the Australian economy as much as $2.7 billion to 2050. That's 20 times more than the cost of taking action. The CSIRO says a carbon-neutral Australia by 2050 is one where wages are 35 per cent higher than in a future Australia where we do nothing. This government fiddles while we watch the nation burn. Labor will support these bills, but we give a huge fail to the government on so many aspects of their economic and budget management.

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