House debates

Monday, 20 March 2023

Private Members' Business

Climate Change

11:31 am

Photo of Jerome LaxaleJerome Laxale (Bennelong, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the member for Werriwa for bringing this motion to this place because we know that the impact of climate change on our planet is a grave threat to the safety and wellbeing of our communities. We have a responsibility to act now and to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come. Australia has long been known for its pristine natural beauty, from the Great Barrier Reef to the vast expanses of the outback. However, we cannot afford to take this beauty for granted any longer. Our planet is facing unprecedented levels of carbon emissions, rising sea levels and extreme weather events, all of which profoundly impact our environment and economy.

In May last year the people of Australia made it clear with their votes that they wanted a government committed to taking strong action on climate change. Climate was one of the top issues in Bennelong and was why voters changed their vote for the first time in nearly a decade. Like many here, I'm here to listen my community's voice and to do my bit to make sure that this government takes strong action on climate change because we simply don't have time to continue fighting on this. We have to work together to find innovative solutions to reduce our carbon footprint, promote renewable energy and protect our environment. Caring for the environment and reducing emissions should not be political. We know that those from the far left and those from the far right have used climate to wedge governments, particularly Labor governments. Because of that, we've lost a decade of action. Emissions were going down under a former Labor government, and that was all unpicked and politicised. Because of the far left and the far right we've gone backwards, and that simply has to end.

According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, 2019 was the hottest year on record, with the national mean temperature 1.52 degrees above the 30-year average that came before it. Of the five hottest years on record, four occurred between 2016 and 2019. Long-term heatwaves are increasing the risk of devastating bushfires, reducing crop yields and negatively impacting our great native flora and fauna. With huge increases in droughts, bushfires, floods and rising sea levels, on top of the heatwaves and coral bleaching, it's too late to continue to deny that climate change isn't real and isn't genuinely impacting our country. This is why we elected a new government.

In May last year the Liberals, who took little-to-no meaningful action to protect our environment and to reduce emissions, were voted out. After a decade of wasted opportunity from the former government, this government hasn't wasted a day in implementing the mandate we were given at the last election. In less than a year we've strengthened Australia's 2030 emissions reduction target and become one of the only countries in the world to legislate that target; we've implemented Australia's first real national electric vehicles strategy; we've announced the first areas of offshore wind development in Australia, continuing on our path to becoming a renewable energy powerhouse; we've invested billions of dollars in upgrading our electricity grid to be able to handle the increased amount of renewable energy we need to reduce emissions; we've appointed an Australian ambassador for climate change; we've joined the Global Methane Pledge; we've funded community batteries right across the nation, including one in North Epping, in my very own electorate of Bennelong; and this week we'll debate a crucial piece of legislation that will force our biggest polluters to reduce their carbon emissions. Importantly, all these measures were election commitments. This government has a mandate to implement them, and once they are in place, I'll be one of many in this place to continue to push the government to go further.

We all know that these measures are just the beginning. Stability and leadership on climate policy is crucial. When governments lead on climate, our community follows. According to the 2022 emissions projection report, this government has lifted the outlook for Australian emissions reduction by one-third in the first six months of its term. So I'm more than hopeful that we'll beat our legislated 43 per cent target, working together with our community and businesses who expect us to. Over the course of this week, we'll be hearing more speakers for and against the safeguard mechanism reforms. I urge all in this place to work together to commit to taking action on climate change and not to continue to politicise this crucial policy area.

Australia used to be a leader on action on climate change. Let us return Australia to the forefront of the fight against climate change and let us ensure that our children and grandchildren inherit a world that is safe, healthy and prosperous.


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