Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Earlier this week the government's Climate Commission issued a report outlining some sobering facts about global warming. Prime Minister, does the government accept the facts in the report that 'burning all fossil fuel reserves would lead to unprecedented changes in climate so severe that they will challenge the existence of our society as we know it today' and that 'most fossil fuels must be left in the ground and cannot be burned'? Given these facts, why is the government continuing to expand the export coal industry?
I can assure the member for Melbourne that I am aware of the updated Critical decade report of the Climate Commission that shows that there is stronger evidence than before of rapidly changing climate—that is, there is stronger evidence than before of dangerous climate change. The government, understanding that climate change is real, that it is caused by human activity, has already put in place the policies and plans to tackle dangerous climate change—that is, we have recognised that the best way of reducing carbon pollution is to put a price on carbon.
The member for Melbourne knows that in this parliament this has been a very vexed debate, even though the Leader of the Opposition and so many people who sit behind him sat in the Howard government cabinet and said that, yes, they believed in putting a price on carbon and that they, the Leader of the Opposition and so many others on the front bench, went to the 2007 election, saying that they believed in putting a price on carbon and that if they were re-elected they would create an emissions trading scheme.
But, unfortunately, instead of following through with that Howard government policy design in opposition and maintaining their beliefs, the opposition have gone for the cheap and reckless politics that we have seen played out in our nation since. Even today we have seen the opposition talking about carbon pricing. I was actually astonished that the shadow Treasurer would come into this parliament and ask about comparative pricing of carbon with nations overseas when for most of this parliament the opposition have marched into this chamber pretending that no-one else in the world prices carbon. Well, there is that shattered by themselves today. They now acknowledge that other people price carbon. So what is their remaining argument? Other people price carbon, so that is gone. They have acknowledged that today. They were interjecting instead. Apparently they have got some issues about the price, not recognising of course that for our trade exposed sectors the effective carbon price is $1.30.
To the Leader of the Opposition and to those who peddle the nonsense on that side of the parliament, can the Leader of the Opposition say—will he ever say, will he say in this parliament or anywhere else—that the plan that they have costs the Australian community less per tonne of carbon pollution removed from our atmosphere than the government's plan? If he is saying that—and apparently he is—then he ought to produce some facts and figures that stack that up, because that claim is patiently absurd. He is asking the nation to pay more to deal with dangerous climate change. We stand for the most efficient way of doing it, as did Prime Minister John Howard.