Tuesday, 15 September 2015
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister, and congratulations on becoming Australia's Prime Minister. Many people hope that it means a change of direction for the country, and you said that we need leadership that respects people's intelligence and explains complex issues, so my question is: does this include climate change? Are you beholden to the hardliners in your ranks, meaning that you will stick with pollution targets that fudge the science? Or will you explain and persuade that the science requires much deeper pollution cuts than the Abbott government had proposed?
Mr Ewen Jones interjecting—
I thank the honourable member for his question. The cuts proposed by the government which are being taken by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for the Environment to the Paris Conference of the Parties are very substantial ones, and they are in line with cuts proposed by comparable economies.
Opposition members interjecting—
What are the cuts that the Labor Party proposes? What is the Leader of the Opposition's proposal? Behind the Leader of the Opposition are people who were proposing 26 to 28 per cent cuts in 2005.
are absolutely comparable and appropriate, in line with other comparable economies. They are very substantial cuts. The means that we are using, which the Minister for the Environment has diligently and carefully put in place to achieve them, are doing their work. I can just give the honourable member an example. The first Emissions Reduction Fund auction in April 2015 was a resounding success: 47 million tonnes of emissions contracted, the largest ever emissions reduction commitment by business. The average price at the auction was $13.95 per tonne—
Mr Bowen interjecting—
of carbon dioxide reduction. So this plan, this reduction fund, is actually working.
The honourable member and, I know, some members of the Labor Party make the same mistake. They make the mistake of turning everything related to climate policy into ideology. The objective is to lower emissions. There are many means of cutting emissions, some more complex than others, some more expensive than others. There is no inherent virtue in any particular method of cutting emissions. There is no ideology there. The object, the only thing that matters, is the outcome.
The targets we have set are reasonable ones. They are comparable ones. They are substantial ones. The methods that the environment minister has put in place to achieve those cuts are working. It works. It is doing the job. The cuts are at the right level. And so—with great respect to the honourable member and recognising his strong interest in the matter—the government's policy on climate—
Ms Plibersek interjecting—