Monday, 20 March 2023
Private Members' Business
I thank the member for Werriwa for putting forward this motion today on climate action—a motion with which I disagree. I do believe we need to recognise that the vast majority of Australians do want action on climate change. The need for action on climate change is not up for debate in this House, in this parliament. Both sides of the parliament believe in the need for action. Indeed, the coalition demonstrated that in government. Over our period in government, emissions were reduced by more than 20 per cent. In our last year of government, Australia saw its annual rate of emissions 77 million tonnes lower than when we came to government in 2013. Indeed, investment in renewables was at an all-time high. We not only smashed our Kyoto targets but were well on track to beat our Paris Agreement targets. And of course it was the coalition government that signed Australia up to the goal of net zero by 2050.
The challenge here is often about getting the balance right—the balance with the economy. So yes, we did see emissions come down by more than 20 per cent under the coalition. But the economy also grew by more than 23 per cent. It's all about striking that balance. And it's on that balance where the government is now starting to lose its way when it comes to its climate and energy agenda. I point to (1)(c) in the member's motion, where she states:
action on climate change is beneficial both environmentally and economically;
Well, it can be. Under the coalition it was; under Labor it isn't.
This gives rise to the key area of difference between the coalition and Labor when it comes to action on climate change. There is no argument around why to take action but rather around how. It's all around the question of how. How do we decarbonise the Australian economy? Labor has lost its balance, and we see it here through the member's motion. It is very biased to specific technologies. Instead of taking a pragmatic approach where all the above is necessary, the Labor government is doubling down on its very selected set of technologies. Unlike most of our peer nations across the world, this government has decided that gas in particular must be removed from the Australian economy. The failure of this entire motion from the member for Werriwa to address gas goes to the heart of the problem.
The Albanese Labor government is trying to kill gas in the Australian economy. Now, we know that because it removed gas from the capacity mechanism. It refused to accept the Kurri Kurri plant as a gas plant, seeking to change that design, therefore leading to a very unfortunate postponement of the Kurri Kurri plant. We know that the changes it made through the gas intervention just before Christmas have heightened sovereign risk and that, as a result, we have a lot of gas companies now holding back on their investments. Also, the changes they are looking at with the ADGSM are causing a similar impact, where gas companies are now holding back. They ripped $100 million out of the budget for gas projects.
Then only last week we saw two big pieces of news this this area, and this goes to the scoreboard that those opposite should be looking at. The first piece of news was the draft DMO that said energy prices on Australia's east coast will be going up by between another 20 per cent and over 30 per cent, depending on where you are. Secondly, AEMO came out and pointed to a dramatic shortfall in gas, which is threatening the reliability of our grid moving forward. Lastly, I would say to those opposite that, as you focus on the how, you also need to demonstrate emissions, since you failed on prices and you failed on reliability. So far, you are falling short of your emissions target. We never did.