House debates

Monday, 27 May 2013

Constituency Statements

Climate Change

10:44 am

Photo of John MurphyJohn Murphy (Reid, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

If any more evidence were required to demonstrate that a possible Abbott government will become the greatest environmental wrecker in this nation's history then the recent call to remove 'environmental propaganda material, in particular postnormal science about climate change' by extremists at the Queensland National Party conference in 2012 should be more than sufficient. Twelve months earlier Liberal-National Party President and powerbroker, Bruce McIver, accused Queensland schoolteachers of 'brainwashing' their students about climate change, yet Queensland has, as we know, experienced unprecedented weather related natural disasters that have been strongly linked to the effects of global warming.

Do the members of the Liberal-National Party expect all reports of the worldwide increase in the frequency and the intensity of extreme weather events be expunged from classroom textbooks? What about the measured increase in the acidity of seawater threatening mass extinction in the oceans that has been unarguably connected to the measured increase in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide? Do members of the Liberal-National Party believe that chemistry, physics and geography textbooks should also be removed from school libraries, since these evident works of propaganda contain materials that could lead to students forming an opinion that carbon dioxide emissions could actually be responsible for the measured increase in average global temperatures?

I call upon the Leader of the Opposition to repudiate the statements of the members of the Queensland Liberal-National Party and to affirm that any government that they may form will accept that global warming is without question being driven by carbon dioxide emissions. Further, I would ask that the Leader of the Opposition state there is a direct connection between the burning of fossil fuels and the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and that urgent measures to rapidly reduce emissions are required. Not that I have an expectation that the Leader of the Opposition will respond to these requests, but I do have one other question: why is it that the leader of the party, distinguished by his own academic prowess in a country that prides itself on the education of its people and the success of its scientists, should reject all the evidence that shows an unarguable connection between carbon dioxide emissions, global warming, climate change and ocean acidification unless his only purpose is to use public ignorance of a complex issue for crude political advantage?

In early May our atmosphere crossed an important and potentially dangerous milestone. Based on readings from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, we reached 400 ppm of CO2 for the first time in about three million years. The last time that atmospheric carbon dioxide reached these levels icecaps in the Arctic and Antarctic collapsed and sea levels rose by 14 metres over a number of centuries. In concluding, is this report just propaganda or should it be seen as a warning that we cannot ignore?