House debates

Wednesday, 22 March 2023


Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill 2022; Second Reading

5:40 pm

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

CLAYDON (—) (): I can certainly say that the delay, denial and dysfunction we saw over the last 10 years has just been writ large for the Australian people to see in the last 10 minutes. More of the same from those members opposite. I can also say that, having listened for hours and hours to members opposite speaking on the safeguard mechanism—indeed, having sat in that chair and presided over many hours of debate, listening to them speak on this—it is astonishing that they should try to gag me, or anybody, on this side of the chamber. I've got to tell you, the people of Newcastle won't take kindly to you gagging voices that differ to yours. That's what you've done. Now that you've got through your speaking list, and others on this side have got a few things to say about reducing emissions in this country and driving some real action on climate change, you want to gag that voice. You want to gag it. It is despicable behaviour from members opposite.

I have got no doubt that the truth hurts when your own constituency base, like the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, say to you that it is very clear that support for these reforms is necessary in order to drive good planning, good investment and good innovation in this country. They know the requirement to decarbonise our economy. They understand. But they don't want to be sacrificing everything in that process. They want an orderly, planned process for what needs to happen. We have been consulting for months and months now to provide the plan. We talked to the Australian people; we got the mandate for it. Now it's on the table for debate, and members opposite want to gag this debate. They want to gag this debate. Well, we know that it will add to what those industry groups have already said to those opposite, both in private and in public—that is, their past failure to deal with the realities before us has crimped certainty for industry and investors. It's left our energy sector in Australia in disarray. That's not Labor saying that. That is the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Australian businesses and households are paying the price for the dithering, delay and incompetence of those in the former government and administration.

Why is this bill so necessary? We've heard from those industry groups about the economic necessity for these reforms. And the people of Australia understand about the need to start acting swiftly. We've all read the intergovernmental climate change report that came out last week. There's no time to waste. There are no more opportunities for dithering or for a decade of inaction. I'd say to all members in this House: this is your opportunity. Whether you are sitting on benches opposite or on benches on the crossbench, this is your opportunity to get behind the single-most important reform, to be responsible, to be part of the solution, to think about the need to deliver some progress, not simply protest, whether it is in opposition or because you want to see something more. This is not the time to hold the Australian people to ransom with more inaction. Surely we have learnt something from the more than a decade now of unrelenting climate wars, of unrelenting inaction? Surely we have learnt something.

We cannot go back to that deep, dark place. We can't afford to go back in any sense of the word 'afford'. This is a time now for real action. This is a time to support the best plan that is before the Australian parliament to reduce a massive amount of carbon emissions in our environment. As I said earlier on, it is like ripping two-thirds of cars from Australian roads today; that's the kind of impact we are talking about.

Seriously, if you are to vote against this today you vote against progress. No-one wants to see no action. I think we can learn many things from the results of the last election. There is nobody out there saying, 'Please do not do anything on climate change in this country.' There is no-one. It doesn't matter if you are in remote, regional or metropolitan Australia. The Australian people are far more advanced than many people sitting in this chamber in terms of their understanding of the need to act and to act now.

There is a choice for those opposite and a choice for those on the crossbench. You can join with us to make progress, to deliver on a commitment to the Australian people to reduce our carbon emissions by 43 per cent by 2030. You can join us now and be part of that. Or you can just sit and protest or make a point, but there is a profound difference between progress and protest in this regard. I am here to make progress. Everybody on this side of the House is saying: 'We want to make progress. We are here. We are deeply committed to reducing emissions, to decarbonising our economy, to ensuring we progress without leaving anybody behind in our society. We are committed to that progress.' People who want to make a point can do that, but making a point is not progress. There are lessons in our history, our recent history, that would be good for everyone to consider. I urge you all to support this bill.


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