House debates

Thursday, 20 September 2018


Richmond Electorate: Rise for Climate Rally

11:01 am

Photo of Justine ElliotJustine Elliot (Richmond, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On Saturday, 8 September, I attended the Rise for Climate rally and street march in my electorate. This local event was organised by the Caldera Environment Centre in collaboration with community groups from the Tweed, Byron, Lismore and Gold Coast areas. On that day, thousands of rallies were held across the country and in cities and towns around the world to highlight the urgent need for action on climate change and further investment in renewable energy. I was honoured to speak at the event and to outline the urgent need for governments to act to address this very pressing issue. I especially congratulated the hundreds who attended the rally to make their voices heard to ensure we have action on climate change. I also pointed out to the crowd those who were not there. There were no elected representatives from the Liberal or National parties, because they don't care and they blatantly refuse to take action. I also highlighted the chaos we have seen in Canberra, with the climate change deniers now taking over this government. The fact is: we have a Prime Minister and a government who refuse to act. The only way to get action from Canberra on climate change is to change the government.

The Labor Party is the party for strong action on climate change. We have a very strong track record and understand the dire need to act. During the term of the last Labor government, we decreased carbon pollution by 11 per cent. We're committed to cutting our carbon emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, and we have a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030. We'll implement plans to ensure we deliver on our pollution reduction obligations in a way that maximises economic and job opportunities and, very importantly, brings down power prices. The fact is that we can cut our pollution and transition to a clean energy economy.

In contrast, the Liberals and Nationals have presided over an unprecedented energy crisis, which has seen power prices skyrocket and pollution rise while investment confidence has been smashed. Quite frankly, this is a government of environmental vandals. We see it federally and we see it at a state level in New South Wales. Let's look at the New South Wales government. We have seen their harmful plans to expand coal seam gas mining right across the North Coast, and that's still on their agenda. We see in New South Wales the harsh logging laws that will destroy our precious forests. Up our way, on the Tweed, we've also seen their plan to impose a large hospital at Cudgen, on state-significant farm land. Labor oppose this plan and will continue to fight against it and fight instead for the shovel-ready site at Kings Forest.

The chaos and dysfunction of this federal government are highlighted by the appointment of the member for Hume as the new Minister for Energy. This minister is the most anti-renewable, climate-change-denying minister Australia has ever had. He led the campaign to force the Turnbull government to abandon their National Energy Guarantee, which has only made the energy crisis much worse. He has a very long history as an anti-renewable-energy ideologue. That includes fighting to kill Labor's renewable energy target, or RET, which is in fact the only thing currently bringing down prices and pollution. His appointment signals a complete triumph of hard right ideology on energy policy, which is sure to guarantee higher power prices, continued investment uncertainty and rising pollution. Indeed, here are some examples of the minister's anti-renewable and anti-climate-change-science statements. On climate change science he says:

The new climate religion, recruiting disciples every day, has little basis on fact and everything to do with blind faith.

What an outrageous statement! On the economics of renewable energy he says, 'Large-scale wind: it's very clear that it's not economic on any grounds.' We know exactly what we are going to get from this energy minister. We are going to get no cuts to pollution and a complete abdication of any responsibility to act in the best interests of future generations around climate change. The choice has never ever been clearer. A Shorten Labor government is for lower power bills, investment in renewable energy and cuts to pollution. The Liberals and Nationals are anti renewables, anti climate science and anti any real policies to bring down power prices or pollution. The only way to ensure that action on climate change is taken seriously is by electing a Labor government.

Under the Liberal-National government power prices have skyrocketed. We've seen that. That's why a Shorten Labor government will help households and businesses get a better deal on their power prices, overhauling electricity offers available to consumers and scrapping outdated deals so that Australians pay less for their power. Labor's plan would mean households could save up to $165 per year from their energy bills and the average small business customer could save up to $1,500 per year. Only Labor can be trusted to give consumers a fair go when it comes to energy prices. Indeed, Labor has a very proud and strong history of acting to protect our environment and also acting on climate change.

I'd like to conclude by again acknowledging the Caldera Environment Centre for arranging this local rally and street march. I thank them for organising it in collaboration with a whole range of very dedicated, interested community groups from the Tweed, Byron, Lismore and Gold Coast areas. It really was a united effort from all of these groups that want to see action on climate change. I would like to finish by especially thanking all of those who attended—the hundreds who attended—to make sure their voices were heard on this important matter. We need to have urgent action on climate change, and it's a Shorten Labor government that will deliver it.