House debates

Monday, 20 March 2023

Private Members' Business

Climate Change

11:21 am

Photo of Andrew CharltonAndrew Charlton (Parramatta, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I am proud to rise today in support of this motion and I thank the member for Werriwa for bringing this issue forward. There was once a time when people spoke about climate change as a challenge for future generations. Its predicted impacts were long into the future—well, not anymore. Climate change has moved from a theory to an evidence-based prediction to a current reality. In my electorate of Parramatta people experience searing hot summers, their daily activities are affected by urban heat and our city is under annual threat from devastating floods. Today no Australian is immune from the impacts of climate change.

Until recently, Australia wasn't acting on this challenge. We lagged behind as the world moved forward in tackling climate change. We had a lack of policy certainty; a last-minute, half-hearted commitment from the former government; a decade of progress and potential wasted. That was what the former government delivered on one of the biggest challenges of our generation.

For a decade Liberal leaders fuelled the culture war and spent their time playing politics over delivering climate change policies. Tony Abbott said in 2009 that the science of human caused climate change was 'crap'. If that wasn't bad enough, he said, in a speech in London, that climate change was, 'probably doing good'. Malcolm Turnbull, that very same year, said his own party did not believe in human caused global warming. In total, the coalition has had 22 different climate policies and five leaders, none of whom have had any coherence on this issue. Not one of them has been able to land a coherent climate policy.

For a decade the coalition saw climate change as a political discussion that needed to be shut down, pushed aside and silenced, but in doing so they missed the voices of businesses across Australia who cried out for leadership on this issue. For a decade they got no leadership. For a decade they got no certainty. And now, as business moves towards net zero with concrete plans and targets, they have left the coalition behind. They haven't got the certainty that they needed. For the Liberal Party, the self-proclaimed party of business, to be left behind by business on this issue, to provide no leadership to that constituency, to be sitting on the sidelines while businesses are making plans to hit their targets to implement concrete plans to reduce their emissions is a disgrace.

In May the Australia people voted to end this chaos, and this government hasn't wasted a day in delivering a cleaner future for Australia. One of the things we did as a government was to legislate an ambitious but achievable emissions reduction target of 43 per cent by 2030 and net zero by 2050. This is an important step towards providing real certainty to investors in low-emissions technology and research. We have made strides in showing the world that Australia is back and open for business when it comes to cooperation on climate change action. Since May we have hosted the Sydney Energy Forum and energy ministers from key ally countries, we've signed the Australia-US Net Zero Technology Acceleration Partnership and we've signed a $200 million climate and infrastructure partnership with Indonesia.

The member for Cook once stood up in front of the world at COP26 and claimed that we are acting on climate change 'the Australian way'. The Australian way, I'm happy to say, is no longer to lock ourselves an echo chamber of climate scepticism and denial. It's no longer to fail to provide business certainty. It's no longer to ignore the realities of climate change impacting the daily lives of Australians. Thanks to the Albanese Labor government, the Australian way is now to act on climate change while working cooperatively with other nations. The Australian way on climate change is to address this future challenge while delivering good jobs for Australian workers. The Australian way is to provide certainty for business across the country. Most importantly, the Australian way is to be truthful and frank about this challenge and how much worse it would be if we do not act now.


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