Tuesday, 1 December 2015
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for International Development and the Pacific. Will the minister outline to the House how the government is helping our Pacific neighbours respond to the challenges posed by climate change?
I thank the member for Macquarie for her interest in this. The fact is that a number of Pacific Island families face real challenges as a consequence of climate change. In particular, we know that Vanuatu, Tonga, Solomon Islands and PNG are among the top 10 most at risk countries when it comes to natural disasters. So in this respect Australia is playing a very important role—I am happy to inform the member for Macquarie—when it comes to helping our Pacific neighbours. We know, for example, that we are going to take responsible action in relation to climate change, because under the coalition government the target that we have taken to Paris represents a 50 per cent per capita reduction. This reinforces the strong message that Australia stands shoulder to shoulder with the Pacific Island family when it comes to taking action that is responsible and consistent with their needs. That is why I was so pleased that the Prime Minister announced overnight $1 billion that will go towards helping climate resilience in vulnerable countries, particularly those in the Pacific.
Australia is going to continue to work with a number of our program partners—
Mr Thistlethwaite interjecting—
the World Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank are just some of those we will be working with. Since I have served as Minister for International Development and the Pacific, I have had the opportunity see on the ground the action that Australia is taking together with program partners to help bring about resilience and change in the Pacific. For example, in Niue I had the opportunity to visit and launch a state-of-the-art tidal gauge facility, which is going to play a critical role in providing scientific information, real-time measurements to not only Niue's national weather service but also the knowledge base that we have in Australia.
In Fiji's Yasawa islands—a remote chain of drought prone islands—we are seeing a community food bank project that is helping to produce resilient crops and improve farming techniques. In Kiribati we are seeing Australia's programs working with the local community to protect freshwater supplies and the sea wall and to assist communities to respond to drought.
Ms Plibersek interjecting—
We are also making sure that our investments are resilient. We are making sure that the infrastructure we build is resilient to climate change—whether it be roads, ports or bridges. The fact is that the coalition has a strong investment plan to help boost our region, and that stands in contrast to a Labor opposition which does not know where it stands—whether it is in favour of an emissions trading scheme; whether or not it is ripping funds out of Kiribati and the Marshall Islands. It was 30 per cent from the Marshall Islands and 20 per cent from Kiribati. The difference could not be more stark.