House debates

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Questions without Notice

Climate Change

2:30 pm

Photo of Annette EllisAnnette Ellis (Canberra, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts. Will the minister outline how the Australian government has taken a new direction in helping Australia meet the challenge of climate change?

Photo of Peter GarrettPeter Garrett (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Canberra for her question. I can inform the House that the Rudd government has taken a new direction to meet the challenge of climate change, a direction which takes responsibility for Australia’s sustainable future. It is a new direction which comes after 12 years of inaction from a coalition government that refused to take responsibility for Australia’s future and, even more clearly—after 12 months of setting out on this side of the House—it is a comprehensive plan to tackle climate change. This government is delivering on its commitments.

Let us be clear: Australia is extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts. Some members may have seen a recent edition of the respected journal Nature which reported the increasing impact that climate change will have on our environment, on the biophysical limits of the environment that we all have to live within. Just this morning we read that houses on the coast at Taree, in New South Wales, are facing mounting coastal erosion pressures. These climate change impacts are real. They affect us, they affect our environment and they affect our economy.

At the last election Australians were offered two distinct approaches for the future. In the international arena we had a choice between refusing to ratify the Kyoto protocol, thus being a spoiler in international climate change negotiations, and ratifying the protocol, which was the first official act of the Rudd Labor government. This gave Australians a seat at the negotiating table where we now, through Minister Wong and other ministers, play a significant role. We had a choice between a Prime Minister who previously said a five-degree increase in temperatures would be ‘uncomfortable for some’ and the Rudd Labor government, which accepts the science, listens to the experts and acts accordingly.

Australians chose between a Liberal Party with no target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the Rudd Labor government, which is committed to the target of 60 per cent of 2000 levels by 2050. On emissions trading, the Liberal Party’s predawn conversion was a scheme that the previous Prime Minister spent years blocking and then grudgingly accepted and which would have started in 2012. Under the Rudd Labor government Australians will be implementing in 2010 a scheme that we should have had years ago. Whilst they were talking down the science they were talking up the nukes, with Mr Howard’s nuclear power crusade and a commitment to repeal nuclear legislation and bring nuclear reactors to a suburb near you.

Photo of Dennis JensenDennis Jensen (Tangney, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Dr Jensen interjecting

Photo of Peter GarrettPeter Garrett (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

If you want to have a clear understanding of where the previous government were on these issues, look at where they put their money instead of their mouth—they spent as much on taxpayer funded political advertising as they actually delivered on climate change. If the coalition had been returned to power, we would not be standing here talking about $1 billion to help households and communities tackle climate change, about low-interest green loans—

Photo of Dennis JensenDennis Jensen (Tangney, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Dr Jensen interjecting

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Tangney is warned!

Photo of Peter GarrettPeter Garrett (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

about rebates for energy-saving insulation or about accelerating energy efficiency. Instead, we have had scaremongering from the Leader of the Opposition and symbolism from the member for Flinders, who in June last year presented two Wollemi pine trees to the King of Sweden—a gift that was described by the former government as ‘a symbolic gesture of action being taken to tackle climate change’. Wollemi pines become fig leaves when you examine the former government’s attitude and delivery on climate change.

Australia now has a government that is taking a new direction, taking responsibility for tackling climate change, taking responsibility for sound economic management and taking responsibility for ensuring that Australians have a sustainable future.

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Urban Water) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, I ask that the minister table the statement from which he was reading word for word, including any evidence about the destruction of the solar sector.

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. That was an abuse of the procedures.

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Leader of the House makes a valid point. That is why I ignored all after the request for the tabling of the documents. It is not a precedent, but I ignored it. Minister, were you reading from a document?

Photo of Peter GarrettPeter Garrett (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

I was.

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Was the document confidential?

Photo of Peter GarrettPeter Garrett (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

Yes, Mr Speaker.

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The document was confidential.