Wednesday, 22 March 2023
Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill 2022; Second Reading
I'm not shocked, but I'm incredibly sad, that members in the coalition are unable to see their way to supporting a reduction of emissions in Australia, taking an important first step towards real climate action in this nation. It's as though nothing was learned from the last 10 years of climate wars and inaction or indeed from the last election.
Well, whether those opposite like it or not, Australia now has legislated its emissions reduction targets, and the Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill 2022 which we are debating today is central to the policy of delivering on those targets. That was announced back in December 2021 as part of our Powering Australia plan, and it was endorsed by the Australian people at the last election, in May last year. The safeguard reforms are expected to save 205 million tonnes of emissions in the period up to 2030. That's equivalent to taking two-thirds of all Australian cars off the road over that same period.
I cannot how understand anybody in this chamber could not support this if they read—even if they took a cursory glance at—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that has just been handed down. If ever there was a warning to the Australian parliament about need to act swiftly on reducing our emissions, it is that.
Reforms to the safeguard mechanism were not only endorsed by the Australian people last May, which is the best endorsement you can get; they have now been consistently recommended and supported by business and industry alike. We've got organisations that often come to these places with different opinions to some of us on government benches and some of us on the crossbench, but they are united. That's organisations like the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group and ACCI.
Those people opposite had grand plans previously for safeguard credits, which they announced back in May 2020; that was in response to the King review, if I'm not mistaken. Then they had an opportunity in the May 2021 budget to have another crack at implementing the safeguard credit system. Then, in their crediting consultation paper of August 2021 and their long-term plan in October— (Quorum formed) Seriously, I probably would have called a quorum too if I had the track record of those opposite and their efforts!
Not only did those opposite miss every opportunity during the last nine years to actually do something about real action on climate change; they proposed a series of reforms, including some of which that are counted now in this safeguard mechanism bill before the Australian parliament, but they failed to deliver them in government and now they want to oppose this bill because someone else has actually improved it and wants to bring it back to the Australian parliament and do something about it.
We've had a decade now of delay, denial and dysfunction, which we see on display again each and every day. They've had all this opportunity and failed on every occasion to do anything other than offering up some half-baked scare campaigns. We saw a little bit of that with the member for Petrie just moments ago. It's the same campaign they want to trot out again. It's the same old talking points. Well, wakey-wakey. In May 2022 the Australian people showed, 'We're not buying that.' They are not buying it.
It is incumbent on each and every one of us in this place to actually start taking seriously the challenges before this nation. Reducing emissions is part of a considered plan to decarbonise our economy as the world is looking to decarbonise its economy. It's making sure Australia is not being left behind. These mechanisms are not just good for our environmental measures; they're great for our economic measures and they're essential for the future wellbeing of generations to come. So it is unfathomable to me that those opposite, and maybe even some on the crossbench who are still trying to figure out their positions, would put at risk an opportunity to take an important first step in being able to attain those legislated targets.
Australia needs to fulfil our obligation internationally, and we need to fulfil the commitment we've made to the Australian people. I would just remind the House and members opposite: your own constituent groups, your own stakeholder meetings, would be telling you the same things that we're being told. I suspect that the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who I referred to earlier in this speech, could not be more convincing in their criticism of the approach now being taken by opposition members.