House debates

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Matters of Public Importance

Climate Change

3:11 pm

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I have received a letter from the honourable member for Port Adelaide proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:

The Government's failure to deliver lower pollution, lower power prices and a stronger economy through real action on climate change.

I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.

More than the number of members required by the standing orders having risen in their places—

3:12 pm

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Port Adelaide, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

This matter is definitely one of public importance. At the end of yet another angry summer, as the community are telling all members of parliament that they expect their national parliament to do so much better, there couldn't be a matter of public importance more deserving of debate in the parliament this afternoon. There is a surge in community consciousness and expectation around climate change that I've not seen since 2007 at the earliest. I know that members opposite are hearing this as well. It's why so many of them are rebadging themselves as moderate Liberals. It's why so many of them are conducting pre-selection battles between the Left and the Right about climate change policy. People all around the country are seeing the impacts of climate change, have seen them right through this angry summer and are asking the question: why, after six years of this government, are we going backwards?

Australians know; they've heard from the scientists that 2018 was one of the five hottest years on record around the world—not an El Nino year, so quite outstanding in meteorological terms—the other four being 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014. Australians have seen the angry summer unfold over the course of the last few months. We've just been told it was the hottest summer on record. The bureau only released its data over the last several hours that this March was the hottest March on record. In South Australia, my home state, we had the hottest summer on record, the hottest month on record and the hottest day on record. Two hundred and nine weather records were broken over the course of this summer. There were floods in places that don't usually flood. There were fires in places that don't usually burn.

The Australian community understand that climate change is unfolding around them, while this government does absolutely nothing. They saw the reports from the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO just before Christmas—their two-yearly report on the state of the climate—outlining in great detail the impact that just one degree of warming is already having on our vulnerable continent, which already pushes us to the limits of human tolerance: an extended and a more intense fire season; structural reductions in stream flow and rainfall in our prime agricultural regions like the Murray-Darling Basin and the south-west of Western Australia; sea level rise accelerating because of the dramatic acceleration in the melting rates, particularly of the Greenland ice sheets. All these records and evidence have been rejected by the inaction of those opposite.

This is also reflected in the scientific advice that we've received over the last 12 months at a global level. The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, confirmed that, with two degrees of global warming—too often regarded as a relatively safe level of global warming—more than 99 per cent of the world's coral reefs will be destroyed, including the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo. With just two degrees of global warming, the World Bank tells us—and the member for Kennedy will be interested in this—global cereal production will be reduced by 20 per cent. On a continent like Africa, which is expected to experience almost all of the net population growth around the world over the next few decades, cereal production would be reduced by 50 per cent.

Yet, against all of this evidence, this government has done nothing, and we have gone backwards on every single indicator on climate change and energy policy. Pollution has started to go up. Renewable energy investment in the first 12 months of the member for Warringah's prime ministership collapsed by 88 per cent—a cause for celebration, I'm sure, by this Minister for Energy, who has built a career opposing renewable energy. We are now the only country in the OECD that doesn't have fuel efficiency standards. We have the lowest uptake of electric vehicles in the OECD. It's good enough for the United States, good enough for Canada and good enough for the UK, Japan, Western Europe, China and so many other nations of the world, but apparently not good enough for this coalition party room to agree upon. They cannot agree on a single serious measure being adopted around the world on climate change—not a single measure.

I will go back to the issue of two degrees Celsius. The advice from all of the experts and scientists is that our position on emissions reduction is the minimum position consistent with keeping global warming below two degrees—net zero emissions by the middle of the century, and a 45 per cent cut in emissions by 2030. Even a 45 per cent cut will still use up more than three-quarters of Australia's remaining carbon budget between now and 2050, but it is the minimum position consistent with the responsibility that our generation of Australians around this country has to look after the interests of our children, our grandchildren and generations beyond. That is why we are taking the right position to this election—an election that we expect, in significant part, will be fought on climate change policy.

Yesterday we announced the most comprehensive climate change action plan ever taken to a federal election by a major party, building on the energy policy announcements that we made last year; building on our 50 per cent commitment to renewable energy by 2030, which independent modelling says will create 70,000 additional jobs; and building on the commitment we have to help households tap into new technology like household batteries—a $200 million program to assist 100,000 households purchase household batteries to complement the two million sets of solar panels we already have on Australian household roofs, to bring down power prices after power bills have gone up and up under this government and to start to make their contribution to improving the environment.

We have the moderate Liberals faction walking out on a climate change debate in this parliament because they are so ashamed of what this energy minister and all of his many predecessors in the climate change and energy portfolio have done to this country's record on looking after the interests of our children, our grandchildren and beyond.

The policy we announced yesterday also builds on our visionary hydrogen policy, which the member for Shortland particularly worked on so hard over the last few months. We are going to hear from him and from the member for Bass, who has also been a strong advocate of Tasmania's place—particularly northern Tasmania's place—in the hydrogen economy of the future, an economy in which Australia can be a leader and create, like renewable energy, thousands and thousands of jobs. This is an industry that the government's Minister for Resources and Northern Australia said is decades away. But everyone who has looked at this industry understands that this is a jobs and investments boom opportunity for a country like Australia.

This week we announced policies to bring down industrial pollution among the 250 biggest polluters in the Australian business community by putting in place the National Energy Guarantee—by continuing the safeguards mechanism that was introduced under Malcolm Turnbull, a policy developed by Tony Abbott and continued by the current Prime Minister—in the hope that, once the people occupying these ministries move on to whatever they are going to move on to, there might be a hope for the sort of bipartisanship that has acted as a foundation for serious action on climate change in every other democracy that is dealing with this issue around the planet. We have also announced the first ever electric vehicle policy in this country, to deal with the fact that we rank last on electric vehicle uptake in the OECD. We are the only OECD country without fuel efficiency standards. We have to change that.

So what did we get in response from this government? Like Pavlov's dog, all of those opposite pull out the old 'member for Warringah playbook', a carbon tax—a war on lunch boxes, a war on meat pies! Sausages are going up! Ten years ago the premium end of the meat market was under attack; this year it's the smallgoods! There won't be any night-time sport. Never mind that, even under the carbon price mechanism, 99.99 per cent of products marketed by Woolworths did not change one jot; even under the so-called carbon tax, 99.9 per cent of grocery items did not change in price whatsoever. This is all they've got. After 5½ years of inaction that has seen jobs and investment collapse, pollution go up and Australia move to the bottom of the pack on every possible index in this area, all they've got is the tired old scare campaigns that the member for Warringah came up with. The Australian people aren't going to put up with this for much longer. They've seen the impacts of climate change and they want a government that is committed to taking action in the interests of our children.

3:22 pm

Photo of Angus TaylorAngus Taylor (Hume, Liberal Party, Minister for Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

The MPI mentions 'lower power prices', but I haven't heard a word from the member for Port Adelaide about lower power prices, because he doesn't want to talk about the costings from yesterday's policies. He doesn't want to explain to the Australian people what the impacts will be. We know the impacts though. I'm going to come back to those impacts and I'm going to watch you squirm as I describe the impacts of your policies on the Australian people—on tradies, on families, on hardworking small businesses. But before I do that, I want to talk about lower power prices and keeping the lights on—something that the shadow minister and those opposite don't seem to want to talk about.

We understand that Australians have been struggling with the cost of living. We understand that the governments in South Australia and Victoria, with their reckless targets, have not been able to keep the lights on. With that in mind, we have taken action on lower power prices and keeping the lights on. Our plan for fairer, more affordable and reliable power includes a price safety net to protect customers—a price safety net under the default market offer. We saw, under pressure from the government, the big energy companies reduce their standing offers on 1 January—$200 in New South Wales, $313 in Victoria, $272 in South Australia and $175 in south-east Queensland. But we need them to go further. The most vulnerable customers are the ones who deserve this most because they are paying a loyalty tax to the big energy companies who do the wrong thing. From 1 July, there will be price caps in place for those standing offers, and that will mean savings of up to $174 for customers on flat rate tariffs, $218 for residential customers on controlled load tariffs and almost $1,000 for small businesses. Those opposite wouldn't understand this. None of them have worked in a small business. But we do understand that. A thousand dollars is a big deal. It is a big deal for people who work in small businesses.

On top of that, we are driving new supply into the marketplace, putting $1.4 billion into Snowy 2.0—a battery for Australia with a cost of storage equal to a fiftieth of a Tesla battery. This will make sure we keep the lights on, because what we've seen is the governments in South Australia and Victoria setting insane renewable energy targets without understanding that, when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow, you have to have backup—you have to have storage. And that's why we're building Snowy 2.0.

On top of that, we saw only a couple of weeks ago a report coming from the Victoria Energy Policy Centre about the impact of manipulation of the market by the big energy companies. When the Hazelwood closure was announced, we saw what the major energy players did. AGL in particular doubled its bids into the market for its coal-fired power stations. It doubled them overnight. And the cost to Australian households and businesses was $3.5 billion in the next year.

Legislation to prohibit that behaviour, to make that impossible, to make it illegal, was blocked by those opposite 12 times—12 times! You have to ask yourself: why is it that they stand on the side of the big energy companies? Why is it that they're backing the big energy companies? Might it be that the Queensland Labor government owns the big energy companies and withdrew $1.65 billion from their piggy bank last year to try to make ends meet? Even then they couldn't get to a surplus, because those who sit opposite don't do surpluses; they're not into them. But the Queensland government tried—$1.65 billion—and absolutely failed.

Alongside that, when we arrived in government, we saw that we were 755 million tonnes behind where we needed to be to reach our 2020 Kyoto obligations. We had to find an abatement of 755 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in order to reach our 2020 obligations. That's the deficit those opposite left us with. Alongside the debt and deficits on the fiscal side, they left us a debt and deficit on the emissions side. We've turned that around, in recent years, from a 755-million-tonne deficit to a 367-million-tonne surplus—1.1 billion tonnes of turnaround on the emissions between 2010 and 2020.

We will smash the 2020 Kyoto obligations. We will absolutely smash them, on the latest numbers from the department, by 367 million tonnes. We announced only a few weeks ago how we'll reach the remaining 328 million tonnes we need to achieve for the time period between 2020 and 2030, and we'll achieve that through the $3½ billion Climate Solutions Fund, including the energy efficiency initiatives worth over 50 million tonnes, and of course the Emissions Reduction Fund, with $2 billion committed, which will deliver 102 million tonnes of abatement.

Those opposite announced yesterday not a plan but a tax. They refused to outline the costs of their tax. They want to send your dollars offshore—carbon credits for Kazakhstan! They want to tell you what sort of car you can drive. They want to tell farmers what they can do with their land. And they want to bring back the Rudd-Gillard carbon tax. We stand for Snowy 2.0; those opposite stand for carbon tax 2.0.

Independent modelling by BAEconomics—an adviser to the Hawke-Keating governments and a contributor to three IPCC reports—shows that Labor's 45 per cent emissions reduction target will cost the economy $472 billion, will slash more than 336,000 jobs, particularly in the member for Shortland's electorate—that's where they'll go fastest—will cut the average wage of a worker by $9,000 and will increase wholesale electricity prices by more than 58 per cent. That's alongside increases in the price of cars, fuel, food and everything else that uses energy. The sad reality is that, when you want to whack a tax on energy, everything that has energy in it costs more. That is the reality: everything that has energy in it costs more.

The 2016 Centre for International Economics report, which looked at Labor's policies on the vehicle side, concluded that an average vehicle would increase in cost by up to $5,000. They're not explaining that to the Australian people, nor are they explaining what this means for the average Australian's car. A Toyota HiLux, the most popular vehicle in Australia—certainly in my electorate it is very popular, and I'm sure it's popular in the electorates of a number of people behind me—emits 200 to 240 grams per kilometre. What are we going to do? Are the tradies going to be driving Priuses? What's going to happen to the SUV? You would think that if you bought an electric vehicle you might get by, but it turns out—we did a bit of work on this earlier today—that a Tesla emits 178 grams per kilometre. So even a Tesla doesn't get there. So extraordinary is the shadow minister's policy that, when asked whether he was going to buy an electric car, he decided he wasn't going to answer the question. Well, he's quite right, because it's not going to reduce emissions. At 180 grams per kilometre, it's actually not going to help, but at least he understands that. He may, in the coming days before the election, fess up to the costs of your carbon tax, fess up to the costs of your policies and fess up to the impacts on the average Australian of your disastrous and absolutely inappropriate targets—the impacts they'll have on all of us.

3:32 pm

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

What a pathetic effort from this generation's Bronwyn Bishop—talking with great potential but underdelivering every single time. I'm going to start with one simple question. This is a debate about climate change. Where is the climate change minister? She's back in witness protection. They rolled her out yesterday for a 20-minute press conference where the Minister for Energy wouldn't let her answer a question—mind you, I don't blame him after her performance—and they rolled her back into witness protection. Such is the commitment of this government to climate change that the Minister for the Environment doesn't turn up for the debate. That is the truth of how little this government takes climate change seriously.

This is a debate about a carbon tax—sure—but there is only one carbon tax and that's their ridiculous Emissions Reduction Fund. They have spent $4 billion of taxpayers' money to pay polluters not to pollute. That is a carbon tax by any definition. Let's look at some of the projects. They're paying a goldminer $1 million to build a gas-fired plant that the goldminer says they would have built anyway. They're paying $2 million to Rio Tinto to put in a diesel generator that was commissioned before they opened their fund. They've already cancelled 28 per cent of the projects they're funding under the Emissions Reduction Fund. Malcolm Turnbull said that this fund, worth $4 billion now, is a fig leaf for doing nothing. That is their entire climate change policy: paying polluters not to pollute.

Let's go to the so-called Fisher modelling. This piece of work, which should have been written on toilet paper, because that is the quality of that piece of work, puts the cost of storage at $200 a megawatt hour, despite the fact that Snowy Hydro says the cost of renewable energy, plus the cost of storage, is 70 bucks a megawatt hour. This so-called modelling says that the $263 carbon price will drive 50 per cent renewable energy. It ignores the land sector. It is utter rubbish. I say this to the government: if they are going to rely on that modelling, what does it say about their policy? Their policy, under this modelling, is a $92 carbon price and involves a $90 billion hit to gross national income. That is what their chosen modelling says about their policy. It is absolutely ridiculous!

The absolute truth is the government do not care about taking action on climate change. Just look at the Prime Minister's contribution on this topic. Since entering parliament in 2007, guess how many times Prime Minister Morrison has mentioned climate change.

Photo of Terri ButlerTerri Butler (Griffith, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Young Australians and Youth Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

How many?

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

Thirteen times in a 12-year parliamentary career! By contrast, he has mentioned 'Canberra bubble' 18 times. He's mentioned a combination of sharks, beer and McDonald's 14 times! No mention of Engadine, but mentions of sharks, beer and McDonald's. This is the level of commitment the government have to climate change: they don't even talk about it let alone take it seriously.

Let's look at their magical plan to achieve their target. This is their magical plan. This is their magical spreadsheet. Look at this—

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Shortland is warned on the use of props.

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

The Climate Solutions Fund. Malcolm Turnbull said it was a fig leaf. The battery of the nation, on its own business case, only works if you get 50 per cent renewable energy—gone. The electric vehicle strategy doesn't exist. The final one is 100 million tonnes on technology improvements and other sources of abatement. They might as well have labelled that column 'blind faith'—blind faith that they'll suddenly find 100 million tonnes of abatement through some other method. That is the level of the government's contribution to this debate on climate change.

The truth is we have a concrete plan. It is a concrete plan that will cut emissions by 45 per cent; a concrete plan that will lower power prices; a concrete plan that will deliver at least 86,000 jobs in renewable energy and hydrogen; a concrete plan that will make a strong contribution to international action on climate change; a concrete plan that says to our children and our grandchildren, 'You count, you matter, we take your future seriously and we will do something about it.' By contrast, we have a reactionary government only interested in short-term politics, who history will condemn as horrible, horrible people that did not care about their kids' future. (Time expired)

3:37 pm

Photo of Michelle LandryMichelle Landry (Capricornia, National Party, Assistant Minister for Children and Families) Share this | | Hansard source

I must say that this is an interesting topic for those opposite to choose. The issue of a changing climate is a very big one and even bigger for the government of a small country to influence. Everyone knows that if Australia were to cut its emissions entirely, the planet's climate would not be altered. This would represent an enormous destruction of our quality of life and see the end of Australia as a world leader in anything. Climate change is a global issue and one that this Liberal-National government is acutely attuned to. We are going to meet our Paris targets in a canter, doing so without the extensive job losses that a carbon tax would deliver under a Labor government. We are doing our bit as a nation and will continue to do so in an entirely responsible manner.

So why do those opposite raise this topic this week? I'm afraid it's the old magician's trick: distraction. Those opposite simply don't want us to talk about tonight's budget, because it's going to open a wound they can't handle. Labor are terrified today of accidentally uttering the s-word—surplus! I can understand their reluctance. I wouldn't want to discuss something my side of politics had failed to deliver in the past 30 years. It must be a very sore point indeed.

I wonder whether those opposite have ever wondered what it takes to deliver a surplus. I'm not sure that they would have. I am not the world authority on government budgets, but I do know a bit about balancing books. If you are in government and want to deliver a surplus, I'll tell you a couple of things that you don't do. You don't squash your revenue by introducing $200 billion in extra taxes on the economy that supports the nation. You don't demonise the resources sector that puts the food on the table for thousands of Queensland families and for state and federal governments. You don't skimp on delivering real job-creating infrastructure. You don't run off on vanity requests designed to satisfy the do-gooders in the almond latte belt, at the expense of the livelihoods of the lifters of our nation, who bend their backs and produce something. And you don't write bogus cheques with borrowed money for programs with uncertain outcomes.

Deputy Speaker, you may have heard that list and thought to yourself, 'Hey, these are all things that Labor do,' and you'd be correct. You'd also be correct to remember it was way back in 1989 when Labor last produced a budget surplus. Many in the gallery today, and even some in the staff ranks in this place, wouldn't remember that event. It has been a long time.

And so we come back to Labor's ridiculous failure on climate change. Those opposite no doubt think they are striking a blow by talking about renewable targets, electric cars and stopping emissions. This is not a climate plan; it is a climate tax, pure and simple. We already know that Labor's 45 per cent emissions target was going to result in a $9,000 hit to wages and more than 300,000 out of a job and that it was going to see wholesale electricity prices go up by 58 per cent. Now we know it will cost even more. Labor's vanity target could leave Australia $35 million poorer. I wonder whether those opposite are starting to realise why they never deliver budget surpluses.

Yesterday's announcement by those opposite reeks of the lack of economic sense and the arrogance that we have come to expect from that side of politics. To think that one of our nation's leaders would pin his hopes to what fuel people will use in their cars is laughable. Has the Leader of the Opposition ever driven through Central Queensland? Communities like Middlemount, Dysart and Clarke Creek are not quite as close together as Canberra and Queanbeyan. Has he ever had to wait a week for power to be reconnected after a storm? These are the realities for many in my neck of the woods, and until such time as technology catches up with their needs Central Queenslanders need to keep the right to choose the vehicle that best suits them.

I'm certainly not anti EV—it's quite exciting technology. I just can't see that those opposite have thought of all Australians when developing their policy. The saddest thing of all is that our hardworking coalminers have lost their jobs. After our farmers and graziers have had their production cut back to primitive levels and after households have been forced to disconnect from the power grid, it would all be for nothing. All of these measures put together won't make a jot of difference to the temperature of the planet. This is why Labor's plan is such a ridiculous one. It is tied up with spending money and signalling virtue instead of actually delivering outcomes.

Those opposite would rather ignore the truth than keep our economy strong so we can better ride out whatever blips come across our radar as a nation. This Liberal-National government is certainly not about to follow every whim of those opposite, and I'm proud to be part of a team that can get on with the job of creating jobs and, at the same time, looking after the environment. (Time expired)

3:42 pm

Photo of Ged KearneyGed Kearney (Batman, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on Labor's plan for swift, comprehensive action on climate change, and I congratulate the member for Port Adelaide for the wonderful work he has done in his portfolio and in compiling this plan. We are experiencing a climate emergency. The year 2018 was one of the five hottest years on record around the world. The other hottest years were 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014. There's a pattern here. In Australia, we experienced the hottest summer on record.

Time and time again we are faced with statistics, reports and damning evidence of the results of this government's inaction on climate change. Under the coalition, we've seen six years of chaos and uncertainty—six years in which the climate emergency has worsened, putting us in a position where urgent action is required. The member for Warringah is, all of a sudden, a convert to the Paris accord. The member for Dickson, suddenly, is not wanting to fund any new coal-fired power stations. But this is not action; this is desperation.

Not a day passes when a constituent doesn't raise their concerns with me regarding climate change. From door-knocking residents, from street stalls, from talking to young kids at schools, from environment groups coming to see me in my office, from family and friends and through the hundreds and hundreds of emails I receive, I know that this is a key issue for those in my community and those around this country. It is one that people, even schoolchildren, feel compelled to take to the streets for.

We stand here today to say that enough is enough. We cannot continue to have governments that ignore the science surrounding climate change, deny the reality of the emergency we are faced with and refuse to take action. Australia is screaming for leadership. It needs a government with a plan to reduce emissions while ensuring that we look after affected workers and communities—a plan to grow the economy, cut pollution and ensure that our future generations are left with a clean, healthy and safe environment.

I am so proud to stand here today as a member of the Labor Party, a party with a plan. A Shorten Labor government will take leadership on climate change. Labor's policy announcements yesterday were groundbreaking. They represent a comprehensive action plan that sets us on a path to meeting our global targets, cooling our environment and resetting Australia on a sustainable pathway. We've recognised that we face an emergency and we have a plan.

We will implement Australia's first national electric vehicle policy, which will tackle transport emissions by setting a national electric vehicle target and introduce vehicle emissions standards. We will reduce pollution over the decades by extending the pollution safeguard mechanism with real incentives for big polluters to reduce emissions. We will ensure that the federal government can intervene to put in protections to stop broad-scale land clearing and will develop and deliver a national forestry summit and forestry strategic plan.

These policies are in addition to our already announced commitments such as investing in renewable energies and batteries. This will help reduce emissions and lower power bills. We'll double our original investment in the Clean Energy Finance Corporation—that's $10 billion—and we will establish a just transition authority to plan and coordinate the impact of closures of coal-fired power stations. This is a vital part of the whole plan. We must bring those vulnerable communities along with us or the division created by any action will allow a vacuum to be created that can too easily be filled by those opposite us, who rely on scaremongering and climate denialism.

Labor is the only party who will deliver on real climate action. As a party of government, we will have the best chance to ensure that Australia no longer lags behind the rest of the world. Our plan will deliver decisive action to reduce our emissions, ensuring we play our part in the global fight against the climate emergency. We have committed not to allow the use of Kyoto credits to cheat Australia's way to meet the Paris targets. Instead, we will deliver strong policies that will ensure we do meet those targets genuinely.

Some say our targets are not high enough or good enough. But, last time we had that argument, we lost the opportunity to have a CPRS scheme, one that would have been in place for 10 years by now. Targets are there to be achieved and beaten. Nothing is stopping us going above and beyond. The key is to start urgently. My office is decorated with knitted corals that have been sent to me by people worried about the Great Barrier Reef. My walls are covered in postcards by children worried about the oceans. My bookshelves are full of climate research sent to me by researchers, and my inbox is full of emails from people worried about the future. I am glad to be a member of the Labor Party who will deliver for these people. (Time expired)

3:47 pm

Photo of Tim WilsonTim Wilson (Goldstein, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I can understand the concern of many people around the challenges of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and concern around climate change. Having studied climate change and climate science, as a qualified carbon accountant, I've worked firsthand to deal with many of these challenges and what Australia can do. But I also look at it as an incredible opportunity to transition towards a sustainable future for Australia and jobs, to create the opportunities and to devise opportunities to innovate and to deliver for the Australian people, to deliver an environmental solution to so many of the challenges we face—because we on this side can see that the future is going to be awesome.

What we're doing is being part of the solution and leading the change. The member for Barker rightly made the point that what we need is modern Liberal vision for Australia in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and confronting climate change. What we need is modern Liberal leadership for Australia to make sure that we can turn plans into action. And that's what we're doing. We are delivering our Paris targets. The best indicator of future success is what you've done in the past. We have managed to meet our Kyoto targets by 128 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases, and we'll double it by 2020. And, of course, we are on track to meet our Paris targets as well.

The Climate Solutions Fund will continue on the early success of the ERF, and we're providing an additional $2 billion to cut two-thirds of the nation's emissions in the non-energy sector to deal with things like agriculture, land use, management and transport energy. Emissions reduction through this method is more than half the cost achieved through Labor's failed carbon tax.

We have Snowy 2.0, through which we're building the baseload renewable energy infrastructure Australia needs. The Snowy hydro power station was a critical project for the development of reliable renewable energy to secure Australia's energy grid in the past, and we are reinvesting in it today for its strategic importance as the battery of the nation, located between Melbourne and Sydney, to increase its contribution to Australia's energy baseload, particularly for households and industry.

We have Marinus Link and are stopping energy waste by having Tasmania's hydro power, which is a critical part of the energy grid, deliver baseload renewables to the mainland. A second interconnector from Tasmania to the mainland will supply cheaper, reliable baseload power.

We have the national electric vehicle strategy. Transport use is changing, and Australia needs a unique solution for our unique situation. Australians have always relied on cars as part of transport solutions because of the country's low density and distances. We are developing a strategy to reduce emissions from cars and freight to drive the adoption of new technology and deliver a comprehensive solution to meet Australia's needs.

We have the National Energy Productivity Plan. We need workable solutions to cut around 90 per cent of energy consumed by industry. Of course, that will deliver economic dividends and competitiveness as well. Our productivity plan is designed to reduce Australia's industry energy demands and cut consumption by 40 per cent by 2030 through practical measures such as efficient air conditioners and white goods and new environmental building standards.

We have the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which invests in renewable solutions: $10 billion is available to invest in renewable challenges, including new energy investment, increasing energy efficiency, reducing energy demand and the repurposing of energy resulting from waste.

We have ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Australia can lead the world in sectors where we are competitive. The $2 billion available through ARENA provides finance for innovation in sectors where Australia can grow industries that can compete with the world, ranging from biofuels through marine energy generation and solar to energy storage.

What we have is a target, a plan and a road map to get there. What we will deliver is a plan, a target and a road map to get there. Compare that to the plan that our opponents have. They say 'plan', but it is an aspirational target with no way of getting there. It is like saying, 'I want to find my way to Darwin,' and then spending the next three months trying to pretend that somehow you have got a traffic map. You've got no idea how to get there and you've got no consequence. You just want to talk the talk; you are not interested in walking the walk. What this government does is walk the walk. It matches its plan against practical solutions which will take Australia forward and provide the modern Liberal leadership that this country so desperately needs.

3:52 pm

Photo of Ross HartRoss Hart (Bass, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Tasmanians are not afraid of clean, green renewable energy. It is part of our industrial heritage. It's part of our state identity, our history. We understand hydroelectric generation, our world-class wind resource and the advantages of small- and large-scale solar. Our world-leading Australian Maritime College, the AMC, leads research on wave and tidal energy research. In the national context, we have much work to do to repair the damage and division around energy created and/or perpetuated by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government. That work can commence under a Shorten Labor government if elected. A Shorten Labor government will reduce pollution, invest in renewable energy and take real action on climate change to ensure that we hand a better deal to the next generation.

After six years of chaos, uncertainty and rising pollution under the Liberals, Australians need stability and certainty on climate change policy. That's what our plan delivers. Last week, I welcomed the member for Shortland and shadow assistant minister for climate change and energy to Launceston to announce the potential of a clean, green industrial process for the production of hydrogen in northern Tasmania, with an immediate commitment to a feasibility study of $250,000 towards hydrogen production in Northern Tasmania. The study will identify the best opportunities for northern Tasmania to be part of a supply chain in the globally massive industry, a $232 billion global juggernaut. Labor have committed $1.1 billion of funding to our national hydrogen strategy to develop a hydrogen industry in this country. Tasmania is well placed to tap into that industry.

We have three distinct advantages in Tasmania: boundless renewable energy with some of the world's best wind resources, access to water and power through our hydro system and a deepwater port to transport that hydrogen product to Japan and South Korea. This opportunity could produce thousands of jobs for Northern Tasmania within my electorate. We already know that Tasmania has been and should be a centre of excellence when it comes to advanced manufacturing. Hydrogen would be another great manufacturing industry in Northern Tasmania where Tasmania would help to decarbonise the rest of the world.

The development of the hydrogen industry in Australia is one part of Labor's plan for ensuring Tasmania capitalises on the benefits of Australia's transition to renewable energy. Labor's plan will tackle climate change to keep the economy growing by investing in renewable energy, boosting clean transport and infrastructure, working in partnership with business and supporting trade exposed industries to keep Australian businesses competitive, helping the land sector to cut pollution whilst giving farmers and the forestry industry new opportunities to earn income, and developing Australia's first national strategy on climate change and health to address the growing health impacts and risks of climate change. This is in stark contrast to those opposite.

The government has failed to deliver lower pollution, failed to lower power prices and failed to strengthen the economy through real action on climate change. Theirs is a party of climate sceptics who are absolutely hopelessly divided on climate change. The Liberals have helped push up power prices by having 13 different energy policies, undermining investment in renewable energy, supporting taxpayer money for new coal plants and backing power privatisation. In fact, just one day after Labor announced the most comprehensive climate change action plan taken to a federal election by a major party in this country's history, the Prime Minister confirmed that the Liberals are proposing to spend taxpayers' dollars on new coal-fired power stations. This is a disgraceful display. After almost six years in government, the Liberals are still making up energy policy on the run, reaching their 13th energy policy in six years—a dangerous, reckless energy policy; an energy policy that adopts coal, which will have the direct effect of undermining Project Marinus and the Battery of the Nation, something all Tasmanians and, indeed, all Australians should beware of. This government doesn't understand renewable energy. It doesn't understand the fact that renewable energy offers a clean future for Australia.

3:57 pm

Photo of Tony PasinTony Pasin (Barker, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I think I've heard it all now. The member for Bass, if I heard him correctly, said Tasmania will decarbonise the world. Message to the member for Bass: Australia produces roughly 1.2 per cent of global emissions. If we were to reduce that to zero, per se, China on a per annum basis increases its emissions by more than what amounts to Australia's 1.2 per cent. So, if you think you're going to decarbonise the world from Tasmania, you keep fighting on, Charlie; you keep fighting on.

The reality is that this is a global challenge, and that's why we have to play our part globally. What does 'our part globally' look like? It looks like meeting our international obligations. We met Kyoto 1, we're on target to meet Kyoto 2 and, as you have heard from the minister regularly, we will meet our Paris obligations in a canter. What those opposite are doing is participating in what can only be described as a gargantuan effort to virtue signal to the Left of the Australian constituency and say: 'Don't run off and vote for the Greens. We're your climate warriors. We will stand up.' But what they fail to say is what impact this will have. Remember that the Chief Scientist has said these actions will have no impact—that is, if we reduced our emissions to zero, that alone would have no impact globally.

So what does it mean to everyday, ordinary Australians? We've heard of a $9,000 hit on wages. We've heard it will cost 336,000 jobs. We'll see electricity up by 58 per cent. Those are things we knew before we came here this week, but we now know a lot more. We don't have the kind of detail we should have, but we know it will cost a lot more. It could cost as much as $35 billion to buy international credits. That's money leaving Australia, going to overseas countries and funding their schools, their hospitals—the kinds of services that, quite frankly, Australians deserve and need.

My challenge is to the member for Port Adelaide. I want to know what he's got against the workers at the Kimberley-Clark mill in Millicent in my electorate. This is a facility that produces toilet paper and tissue paper. It directly employs about 350 people in that community; indirectly, it's about 450. Now, before those opposite rush off and say, 'Oh well, they're not environmentally responsible,' this is an organisation that's been recognised for its achievements in environmental sustainability. They've won several third-party sustainability awards over the past five years, and many of those awards directly resulted from the work they did at Millicent. This is my point: the reality here is that if you impose your policies on this business, there is a very high likelihood that this business will be incapable of continuing to operate. If that happens, guess what? We're still going to consume toilet paper, we're going to still need tissues, but they will come from overseas. They'll come from jurisdictions that don't have the kind of environmental regulation that we have in Australia, so, in effect, in your ill-advised attempt to reduce carbon emissions you will send this industrial effort overseas. In return, we will obviously lose those jobs, both direct and indirect, and we will import that toilet paper and tissue paper.

Leaving aside the carbon miles on a container load, if not a shipload, if not many shiploads, of toilet paper, this will be produced in countries that don't have the kinds of regulations we do. And so effectively what you'll be doing is exporting jobs and increasing emissions. That's the real impact that this policy will have, because not only will you do that—increase carbon emissions from the transport of goods to Australia, export those jobs and force this industrial effort into jurisdictions that are less environmentally sensitive—but you'll also impoverish Australia as a nation. And—light-bulb moment—only wealthy jurisdictions, only wealthy countries, can do stuff about their environment. Only wealthy jurisdictions can work to improve the environmental settings in their country. If you want to impoverish Australia, if you want to impoverish our fiscal position, then you will make it much more difficult for Australians—and Australia as a nation—to care about and take a really strong interest in their environment.

4:02 pm

Photo of Susan TemplemanSusan Templeman (Macquarie, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I recently met with students who weren't taking time off school; they were taking time out of their weekend, on a Friday afternoon, to talk to me about why they care about climate change. These students from Colo High School, Katoomba High School and Bede Polding College put those opposite to shame. They knew more about climate change than anyone I have heard from on the opposite benches. And it was fact; it was science.

They know that Australia is the highest emitter per capita in the industrialised world. That's a fact. They know that carbon pollution levels in Australia are rising. They know that the government's own data shows they've been rising since Prime Minister Tony Abbott and that Australia's on track to miss its own inadequate 2030 emissions reduction target of 26 per cent by a whopping 19 per cent. They know that 2018 was one of the five hottest years on record around the world, followed by 2007, 2016, 2015, 2014. It was the spring of 2013 that caused havoc in the Blue Mountains, in my electorate of Macquarie, with fierce and unprecedented bushfires. It's been a record in Australia this last year too, with 209 weather records beaten.

These students know that the $2.25 billion spent by the government, by those on the opposite bench, have led to pollution going up, not down. They know that their own community of the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains faces not just fire but also floods that will be exacerbated by the changing climatic conditions. They know that natural disasters already cost the economy $18 billion a year. They can't vote yet, but they know something the government hasn't woken up to: climate change is real; it's a crisis and it requires urgent action. And RFS firefighters know it too. Farmers in Macquarie know it, grandparents in Macquarie know it, the insurance industry knows it and business knows it. Only Labor will deliver the urgent action that we know we need.

Lower power prices are also a stress that families in my electorate face. They are stressing family budgets and creating anxiety for low-income people, and yet 13 energy policies and six years later all we're seeing from this government are power prices going up, up, up. Labor will change that. We can do both, and create jobs. In fact, 70,000 jobs in the renewables sector and 17,000 in the hydrogen sector—that's what our plan will do. Yesterday, the Labor Party announced what is the most comprehensive climate change action plan that's ever been taken to a federal election by a major party in this country's history. That's something we're very proud of. We've done the work, we've listened to business and we've listened to science.

The target that Labor is taking to the federal election is the one we announced in 2015, for a 45 per cent emissions reduction cut by 2030 and net zero emissions by the middle of the century. It's not quite what my students would like to see, but it is a massive leap in the direction that we need to take. It's a position consistent with keeping global warming below two degrees. That's the commitment that another Liberal Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, signed Australia up to at the Paris climate conference in 2015. It is the absolute minimum commitment needed to discharge our responsibility to the kids from Colo high, Katoomba high, Bede Polding and every other school in my electorate.

We're also committed to that 50 per cent renewable energy in our electricity mix by 2030. Renewable energy—and this might shock those opposite—is the cheapest form of new energy. It is also a fabulous job creator. We're committed to cheaper, cleaner power through renewable energy, and we'll do that with rebates for solar batteries for 100,000 households—$2,000 rebates to help build up the market for that product. These are batteries which will make a massive difference to people who already have solar on their roofs.

We'll double the original investment in the Clean Energy Finance Corporation by $10 billion. That will support new technologies. We'll boost clean transport and infrastructure, which make up 20 per cent of Australia's emissions and are one of the fastest-growing sources of pollution. On our electric vehicle policy: we're the only OECD country currently not to have a policy. Those over there should be ashamed of that! Our policy will set a national electric vehicle target of 50 per cent for new car sales. (Time expired)

4:07 pm

Photo of Ted O'BrienTed O'Brien (Fairfax, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

There's no doubt: our country faces challenges. It always has and it always will. How governments respond to those challenges defines who they are and defines their values.

We already know what Labor's values are by virtue of their tax policies. We know very well Labor's plans around franking credits, negative gearing tax, capital gains and family trusts. Labor's only solution with respect to the economy is tax—tax, tax, tax. It's the only policy Labor relies on.

In comes our challenge with climate change, and you would think that after nearly six years the Labor Party would actually have done thorough costings on its policy, but it has not. It has not; the opposition leader continues to stumble because he cannot answer the most basic of questions about what their climate change policy would cost. They haven't got a clue! What we do know, from independent modelling, is that their climate change policy is in fact nothing more than yet another tax.

Let's take Tradie Joe. In a few years time, Tradie Joe might be very fortunate not to be one of the 336,000 people who lose their jobs as a result of Labor's energy policy. Tradie Joe survives. He's not one of those 336,000 who lose their job. Tradie Joe, unfortunately, is paying 50 per cent more in his energy bills—his electricity bills—because Labor's policies increased wholesale prices by 58 per cent and they were passed through. Tradie Joe also is incurring $9,000 less in his wages. He's paying $5,000 more for his ute. He has a pie for lunch. Even the pie is taxed because of Labor's energy policy. He has a can of Coke. The can of Coke is taxed because of Labor's energy policy. He wants to buy his wife a packet of Tim Tams but—guess what?—Labor has a Tim Tam tax! These are the policies that are already being laid out by the Labor Party.

Tradie Joe is fictitious for one key reason. We need to ensure those opposite do not get hold of the treasury bench because we know that their policies, right across portfolios, represent a wrecking ball to this economy. If anybody is unsure about the impact and intent of the Labor Party with respect to energy, they should look at the state of Queensland, where they are in government. In the state of Queensland the Queensland Labor government controls about 80 per cent of energy, running a complete monopoly right across the supply chain outside of the south-east. If you look at your quarterly bill in Queensland you'll see how much you are being ripped off by the Queensland Labor government on an annual basis: $468. The Queensland Labor government are more than happy to ensure that reductions in wholesale prices, courtesy of the coalition federal government, are not passed on to consumers. They are more than happy to ensure that their inflated asset values are not written down so they can keep charging and ripping off customers. They are more than happy to do dodgy debt deals where the Labor government lend money to the Labor energy company, who in turn provide healthy dividends to the Labor government. That's the way they work. That's the way they operate. With anything to do with serious policy there's only one answer from the Labor Party: tax, tax, tax, tax, tax. Labor know nothing but tax, and that is why they hope to kill this economy.

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The discussion has concluded.