House debates

Monday, 22 March 2021

Private Members' Business

Climate Change

6:39 pm

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

I move:

That this House:

(1) acknowledges that the Government is taking real and practical action to reduce emissions while protecting our economy, jobs and investment; and

(2) welcomes that the Government's plan is driven by technology not taxes, and the plan is working, for instance:

(a) we beat the 2020 target by 459 million tonnes;

(b) updated forecasts show Australia is on track to meet and beat its 2030 Paris target; and

(c) over the past two years, our position against our 2030 target has improved by 639 million tonnes—equivalent to taking all of Australia's 14.7 million cars off the road for 15 years.

When I think about the foundations of liberalism, I think about the importance of the empowerment of the individual—the economic and social democratisation of power to unleash the full potential of the 25 million citizens of this country. But we also need to make sure that we steward and take responsibility for our environment to ensure that the inheritance that our children and grandchildren and their successors receive is as good if not better than we received.

That is why we as Liberals have always taken a strong view on the importance of environmental stewardship. I remind members that the foundation of the Australian Greenhouse Office occurred under the Howard government. Numerous environmental groups were founded under the Fraser government. The Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments have also continued this important tradition because we believe that we should steward, for the next generation, an environment that's as healthy and prosperous as the one we inherited.

We know that the challenge of rising greenhouse gas emissions means that, as one of the nations that have harnessed the potential of our natural endowment, we need to repurpose that and refocus that so we have not just an industrial revolution in the past but a clean revolution in the future. We want to see Australia's economy continue to grow, continue to clean and continue to provide the jobs and opportunities for the next generation of Australians.

We have a very clear plan about achieving that. Under the Abbott government, we ratified the Paris Agreement, and, critically, as part of that process we committed Australia to a net zero emissions target in the second half of the century. Right now, we are focused on what we need to do to achieve that target and, where possible, to bring it forward—not just because it's in line with the international community, though that's obviously an important part of it, but because it goes to the heart of who we are as a country. I sometimes hear people say, 'Australian emissions are only a small percentage of global emissions; what does it matter?' And my response is always the same: if you as an individual litter, of course that is only a small share of the litter of the nation. But the whole principle of liberalism is the idea of empowerment through responsibility. Having 25 million people take responsibility for themselves should be the principle by which we wish to govern a nation—responsibility, responsibility, responsibility. So, while we encourage other countries to follow our lead, we still have a responsibility to do what we ourselves know to be right.

We've obviously set out a target, under the Paris Agreement, for the second half of the century. We're now seeking to implement it. But, critically, we're not doing it in the same way that so many other countries are doing it and that those on the other side have sought to do it. We're not trying to do it through taxes, because we know taxes don't work; they only work as a mechanism by which government can raise more revenue for itself, rather than targeting measures and driving technology to be part of the solution. As many people have often remarked, the use of horses didn't end because we ran out of horses or we ran out of places to put their droppings or leavings. It was because we innovated new technology, like cars. And the next generation of cars will be part of our transport based solution to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions while continuing to drive the Australian economy.

Renewables are a critical part of the discussion about moving from the traditions of fossil fuels to new energy generation. The investment we're making in Snowy 2.0 is a critical part of it being the battery of the nation. And we should not remove from the table important energy generation which can be a critical part of a competitive, low-carbon baseload future, such as nuclear power. Anybody who wants to remove that from the discussion is saying they don't actually care about climate change, they don't actually care about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and they don't actually care about the future jobs of Australians.

Our record, in taking this approach, is unambiguously clear. We smashed our Kyoto-era targets by 459 million tonnes because we brought the future forward. Australia's emissions have fallen faster than the G20 average. We've seen emissions drop, between 2005 and 2018, by 13 per cent. By comparison, so many other countries, including New Zealand, can only promise targets as long as they exclude their sectors. If we want agriculture to reduce its emissions profile, or transport, energy generation, land use and the rest, technology is going to be the solution. At every step, the Morrison government is about building the future of the nation, and its competitive future.

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Is the motion seconded?

Photo of Warren EntschWarren Entsch (Leichhardt, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

6:44 pm

Photo of Ged KearneyGed Kearney (Cooper, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Health and Ageing) Share this | | Hansard source

What we have here is a classic case of Morrison government spin—a beautifully worded statement that is just dripping in spin over substance. It's the motion equivalent of a photo op and no follow-through. And who better to bring it to us than the member for Goldstein, who has left the room. It's good to hear that he cares about climate change. But what good is caring about climate change if you have a government that is not going to do anything about it? Let's tell the people the truth: the only climate change policy this government has is one of neglect, inaction and denial.

The first line of the motion says:

… the Government is taking real and practical action to reduce emissions while protecting our economy, jobs and investment.

Oh my goodness! Every man and his dog are crying out for a coherent energy policy which allows for real investment in key industry and jobs. We've had 22 energy policies under this government. It's no wonder there's such limited investment in energy generation. Why would you invest, when the policy keeps chopping and changing?

As Renew Economy reported last week, a new survey has found that big global investors say they want to invest $1 trillion in renewable energy over the next decade but that they are scared off from investing in Australia, because policy chaos makes it impossible to predict future returns. Can you imagine what a trillion-dollar investment would do for our country? The jobs, the jobs, the jobs; the multiplier effect for businesses, for apprenticeships and for actual emissions reductions, not the fanciful rubbish being put forward here.

Australia is now an international pariah for lack of action on climate change. Around the world, 120 countries have a target of net zero by 2050. It's legislated in the United Kingdom, with a Tory government; in France, with a centre-right government; in Germany, with a conservative government; and in New Zealand with, well, Jacinda Ardern—she's wonderful! But this government thinks it doesn't need to do that. On the climate change performance index, Australia ranks 54th out of 61 countries for climate action and policy; that's just ahead of Kazakhstan and just behind Russia.

As I said, every man and his dog, from the BCA to the National Farmers Federation, have backed net zero by 2050. They know it drives investment and will create thousands of jobs. But, without coherent climate and energy policy, all this government has done is drive down investment and stymie opportunity to revolutionise manufacturing and traditional industries right across our suburbs and regions. Climate change policy and energy policy is the key to getting green manufacturing, sustainable manufacturing, going across our suburbs and regions, building jobs. Just saying, 'It's technology and stuff' won't cut it. We need specific action. We need real action. We need real policies.

The claim being put forward by this motion is:

(b) updated forecasts show Australia is on track to meet and beat its 2030 Paris target—

For this, I've got to turn to a fantastic article which just rips the government report to shreds. To quote Adam Morton:

The first thing to stress here is in the title—these are only projections. The report tells us what we might expect to happen under current policy settings. It is frankly weird the primacy projections have been given in public debate, given what matters is actual cuts.

… … …

In terms of the actual numbers, the bottom line is that—at a time when other countries are announcing increasingly ambitious targets—the government expects national emissions to fall by only 6.8% this decade—

Well, targets can be met if they're crap targets! But, as Mr Morton says—

That projected drop is almost entirely due to a surge in electricity production from wind and solar that the Morrison government has tried to slow, not accelerate. In most other areas of the economy the projections suggest there will be no change in emissions over the next decade—

despite what the member for Goldstein was just carrying on about. So get real!

The fact is: when Labor was in government over a six-year period, emissions reduced by 15 per cent. The coalition has been in government over a six-year period, and emissions have reduced by one per cent. Stop taking credit where it's not due. You need to tell Australians what you intend to do to make sure we play our part in reducing emissions, because, frankly, catastrophic climate change is a problem that needs to be seriously addressed.

6:49 pm

Photo of Julian SimmondsJulian Simmonds (Ryan, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

We are taking real action on climate change, and I take up the challenge from the previous Labor speaker to say what we are doing about it. What we are doing about it is technology, not taxes. They always arc up when we talk about this because the Labor members have never met a tax they didn't want to implement. On this side of the Chamber, we back Australians to create the technology that will allow us to reduce emissions whilst still creating and saving jobs and Australian livelihoods, which is so important.

We have been at this for election after election now for some time, and still the Labor Party can come up with no alternative policy for tackling climate change other than simply introducing more taxes on Australian families and Australian households that are already doing it tough. We simply say, time and time again, that that is not good enough. There has to be a way, and there is, and that is the real action the Morrison government is undertaking to ensure that we reduce emissions and take real action on climate change by doing it through technology, not taxes, so that we can support Australian households. That is why I really commend the member for Goldstein for bringing forward this motion today. I know that he is passionate about real outcomes when it comes to tackling climate change, as am I. I really commend him on the work that he has done over the years to push that agenda within the government.

When it comes to emissions reduction, we as a government have a strong track record to be proud of, and I am proud to talk it up to my constituents. We absolutely smashed our Kyoto-era targets by 459 million tonnes and we are on track to meet and beat our 2030 Paris targets. Now, that is a fact, a truth, that those on the other side of the Chamber and the many action groups like Extinction Rebellion don't like to acknowledge because it doesn't fit with their political narrative. They laud other nations around the world who talk big on tackling climate change but then fail time and time again to meet their Paris or Kyoto targets or to track in line with those targets. They are still lauded by the groups on the Left.

Quietly and methodically, this government is getting on with the job of simply reducing emissions and meeting our targets. Over the last two years, our position against our 2030 target has improved by 639 million tonnes. That is the equivalent—these are all very big numbers, just to frame them in people's mind—to taking all of Australia's 14.7 million cars off the road for 15 years. What an extraordinary amount of reduction this government has achieved without a tax—a new tax that destroys families and costs families and removes opportunities for families—without destroying jobs, without destroying entire industries and throwing people on the scrap heap of life before a more complete transition can be undertaken. Under this government, emissions are lower than when Labor was in government and, indeed, lower than in any year under the previous Labor government. That's something that I am proud of. That is something I know the member for Goldstein is proud of. As Australians who have contributed to this, we should all be proud of this.

Australia is a world leader when it comes to renewables. In 2019 Australia's investment in renewable energy per capita was greater than the USA, Japan and the UK, and more than triple the per capita investment of Germany, France, China and Denmark. Australia's emissions have fallen faster than the G20 average, faster than the OECD average and much, much faster than similar developed economies like Canada and New Zealand. This is something we have already achieved, that we can be proud of, that simply isn't acknowledged by Labor members opposite and by other activist groups on the Left.

Because we are committed to practical change driven by science and technology we are able to achieve this, and we are doing some great work in this space. In my own electorate of Ryan, at the CSIRO facility in Pullenvale, they are doing tremendous work on hydrogen energy, particularly on the ability to export hydrogen energy so that we can supply the world with cheaper and lower emission energy and help reduce emissions right across the globe, just as we have done and will continue to do, in Australia. I thank again the member for Goldstein for bringing forward this motion. We are committed to real action on climate change. (Time expired)

6:55 pm

Photo of Helen HainesHelen Haines (Indi, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I was in Corryong two weeks ago when a women approached me on the street—I'll call her Samantha. Samantha told me that she had grown up in Corryong and had just returned after being away for 30 years. Corryong, in the Upper Murray, is The man from snowy river country. It's remote and wild country. Before it becomes mighty, the Murray River begins its journey to the ocean here in these hills.

I've told the story in this place before how Corryong was cut off from power in the bushfires, because it relies on a single, fragile powerline going down to Wodonga, which was burnt down. But losing power is not a rare event for people who live here. Samantha told me that she loses power at least once a day, from anything for a few seconds to several hours. When she first moved back here in January, her mother, who still lives in the upper Murray, told her to buy two things: candles and a torch. Samantha told me, 'You need them around here; nothing has changed in 30 years.' That's not exactly supporting Australian households, says the member for Ryan. Nothing has changed in 30 years.

After the fires left a completely isolated the Upper Murray community, the community came together to try and fix its problem of unreliable and insecure power. The result is the Upper Murray Placed Based Power Plan, which aims to build a mini grid of dozens of connected solar generators and batteries right across the region. The community has won $3 million in bushfire recovery funds to start work on this. The mini grid will allow them to generate and store their own power, especially in a bushfire event but also to make sure they have an everyday power supply. When I read this motion, which is really just self-congratulatory guff, I think of places like Corryong, where everyday people are getting on and building their own solutions with renewables. The contrast between the stunning lack of action from government to support community-led renewables and the impressive commitment of regional communities is remarkable. This is, of course, the government that claims to be reducing emissions by subsidising a gas-led recovery. Politicians in this place often stand up and beat their chests about how regional Australia needs coal and gas for all sorts of reasons. But, once you get past the bravado, the reality on the ground is completely different. It's not just local communities; large regional manufacturers are turning off gas and turning on renewables, not for some highfalutin concern about the planet, but because it makes sense for them and us in the regions.

Ryan and McNulty Sawmillers, a timber sawmill in Benalla, has plastered its roof in solar panels to save power. Senator McKenzie and I, on Friday, visited the new Wangaratta pool, and we saw how it's powered completely now by rooftop solar. The Mars factory in Wodonga, just a week ago, announced that it, along with seven other Mars factories in Victoria, has gone 100 per cent renewable by partnering with a solar farm near Ouyen, in the member for Mallee's electorate. They're procuring enough renewable power to process 185 million bags of M&Ms, and they're doing it because they wanted to cut down on power outages, which are immensely costly for a large manufacturer like them, and because renewables are simply cheaper.

In places like the Upper Murray, the most rural of communities you'll find, people aren't talking about gas. They're talking about renewables. They're talking about their own locally-designed, locally-driven mini grid proposal. I don't know whose idea the gas-fuelled recovery is, or who it actually serves, but it's totally disconnected from the reality of regional Australia that I represent. It's disconnected from the reality of regional hospitals, regional councils, regional manufacturers and regional people, like Samantha, who are just trying to keep the lights on.

These aren't activists. These aren't, as the Deputy Prime Minister suggests, inner-city lefties. The gas distribution network simply doesn't even physically cover most of regional Australia. It doesn't reach places like Corryong. If you want to cook with gas in Corryong, you need to use a gas bottle. The idea that subsidising big gas companies will help communities like Corryong is, frankly, laughable. The National Party, really the entire government, has got this one completely wrong. It's time they truly listened to regional communities and actually understood what real, practical action means. Renewables could be the best thing to happen to regional Australia since the wool boom, but no-one seems to get that in government.

In the last parliamentary sitting I tabled a bill to set up a new agency: the Australian Local Power Agency. Its job would be to drive investment in locally-owned renewables in regional Australia that would see jobs procurement and money coming into regional Australia. We put support right behind communities like the Upper Murray. We don't need a gas-led recovery; we need a renewable-led recovery and we need a community-led recovery, so I say to the National Party and the government to look at my Australian Local Power Agency bill and back in regional Australia in our economic recovery.

7:00 pm

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise in support of the motion proposed by my good friend and colleague the member for Goldstein. As I highlighted in my first speech, the threats of climate change are very real and affecting us all. That is why I am proud the Morrison government is unequivocally committed to the global push to tackle the challenges posed by the changing climate. Around the world, we are seeing countries with the strongest ambitions towards a low-emissions future relying on innovative and renewable technologies to achieve their goals. Under the leadership of the Morrison government, our plan is no different.

The Morrison government are aware of both the environmental and the economic necessity of a clean and sustainable energy sector, which is why we've developed a clear and comprehensive plan in the Australia's Technology Investment Roadmap, prioritising new and emerging technologies that will support jobs, drive our economic recovery and, vitally, reduce emissions. Our strategy is underpinned by the ongoing development and deployment of low-emissions technology to reduce carbon emissions and achieve our international obligations in combating the effects of climate change. Deploying the appropriate technology when and where it is required will allow Australian industry to capture these new opportunities—with enormous potential in low-emissions technology like hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, biofuels and resources, and energy export to reduce emissions—whilst simultaneously strengthening our economy.

It's not just about talk; it's about walking the walk. And that is why I'm very proud of the fact that we have identified, as a government, five priority technology stretch goals. The reason why this is important is that we need to partner with business and new technology to make sure that the strategy to get there is partnered with the free market. And I'm very pleased to say that the Biden administration too has taken on these five stretch goals for low-emissions technology. They've added a sixth one, but they have included the first five. These ones, basically, will provide a comparative advantage for Australia.

The first of those is clean hydrogen under $2 per kilogram, and we've already signed memorandum of understandings with the Japanese government about our hydrogen future. The second stretch goal is energy storage electricity for firming at under $100 per megawatt hour. The third is low-carbon materials, including low-emission steel production, at under $900 per tonne and low-emission aluminium at under $2,700 per tonne. These stretch goals are incredibly important because you need to partner an economically sensible and rational approach with an environmental outcome that's going to be good for the planet. The fourth stretch goal is carbon dioxide compression, hubs transport, and storage under $20 per tonne of CO2. The fifth and final, which I know the farmers and regional and rural areas of Australia will be very pleased about, is soil carbon measurement at under $3 per hectare per year. Australia is a big continent with a lot of topsoil, and the quality of our topsoil can be improved by carbon farming. With these pragmatic and technology focused ambitions, we can also grow our economy and create jobs, all while creating a green and sustainable future for generations to come.

Our strategy is working, and we are achieving results. In 2020 we met and beat our Kyoto targets by 459 million tonnes, and that was without using carryover credits. Moreover, the recently released December 2020 forecasts further demonstrate our credentials on climate action, with Australia on track to meet and beat its 2030 Paris targets. Indeed, over the past two years, our position against our 2030 target has improved by 630 million tonnes, the equivalent of taking all of Australia's 14.7 million cars off the road for 15 years.

There is so much more to do. There is so much more with regard to getting behind the new technologies that are coming online. I really call on all Australians to embrace new and emerging technologies. That includes solar panels, with us having the highest uptake of solar panels per capita in the world, but also using other forms of technology, which includes things like low-voltage metres that can be applied to households and to businesses. I have such a business like that in Higgins. This helps to bring down the voltage requirements for your business or for your home and therefore brings down the cost of energy as well. It's important that all Australians get behind these new technologies, because it's also about the consumer use and uptake of these affordable and reliable technologies.

Our clear and comprehensive plan as a government is to reduce emissions by investing in technology, not through taxes, and continuing to back our strong economic recovery out of the COVID recession, as this will create new jobs for the sector—up to 130,000—by 2030 by investing in new technology.

7:05 pm

Photo of Matt ThistlethwaiteMatt Thistlethwaite (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for the Republic) Share this | | Hansard source

The problem with this motion is that it's simply not true. It makes the claim that greenhouse gas emissions have fallen under this government, but the government's own department of environment and energy, which publishes estimates, on a quarterly basis, of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions—and they do this to meet our reporting commitments under the United Nations framework on climate change, and also to track progress against our emission reduction commitments—indicates that the trend, on an annual basis, taken from the department of energy, to March 2019, is that emissions are increasing. And there they are in this graph. They've been going up!

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The member for Kingsford Smith knows that he's not allowed to use props in the chamber.

Photo of Matt ThistlethwaiteMatt Thistlethwaite (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for the Republic) Share this | | Hansard source

I won't need to use it again! In 2014, there were 527 million tonnes of CO2 produced by Australia. In 2019, that had risen—in other words, gone up—to 555 million tonnes. That's clearly an increase. Why is that? Well, because the government doesn't have a policy to reduce carbon emissions in our economy. So guess what? They're going up.

We did have a policy to reduce those emissions, and that policy existed from 2012 to 2014. It was a price on carbon emissions. It was put in place by the Labor government. Guess what happened when we had a national policy to reduce carbon emissions?

An opposition member: What happened?

They actually reduced! They went down. They went down from 540 million tonnes in 2012 to 527 million tonnes in 2014. It's very clear that, when the Abbott government removed the price on carbon emissions, they started increasing again.

Australia would have to be one of the only nations in the world that had a successful policy of reducing carbon emissions, and a national government comes along and says: 'You know what? This policy is working so well, we're going to abolish it and remove it; we're going to get rid of it'! And guess what happened? Carbon emissions went up again. And our kids and our economy will be paying for it, because not only are our kids going to inherit a dirtier, more polluted environment that's not safe, but also our economy is missing out on the economic opportunities that come from transferring to renewables.

The claim in this motion is that emissions are reducing. I wonder how they got to this claim that emissions are reducing? I did a bit of research. The way they do it is that Minister Taylor claims that the impact of the extraction of LNG in its processing and the emissions that this produces should be excluded from Australia's greenhouse gas reporting obligations because it's predominantly exported! Can you believe that! This minister thinks that he can hoodwink the Australian people in that manner by saying: 'You know all of those emissions that we produce from LNG exploration and export here in Australia? We're going to exclude those.' It's like saying: 'From all the emissions that are produced from cars in Australia, we're going to exclude Toyotas because Toyotas are produced overseas'—despite the fact that they're driven on Australians roads. It's ridiculous! But that's what this government is doing.

Over the last decade, Australia has had a big increase in greenhouse gases produced by the extraction and processing of LNG. They cannot be excluded from our figures. That's how the government claims that emissions have been reducing—by excluding one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions—and Australians are paying the price: a dirtier, unhealthier environment for our kids, and missing out on economic opportunities.

The transition to renewable energy is occurring whether we like it or not. This government, despite their attempts, is not going to be able to stop that. Despite many of their backbenchers wanting to invest in coal-fired power stations and put public money into them, the government are not going to be able to stop that.

So the question for the Australian people and the Australian government is: how do we position ourselves so that we benefit economically from the increase in renewables throughout the world and the industries that will come?

How does Australia position itself to benefit from solar, from wind, from hydrogen, from electric vehicles, from soil sequestration and from new agriculture? How do we grow those jobs, jobs, jobs that come from these new and emerging industries? This government has no plan to capitalise on the economic transition that's taking place and we're missing out on business investment and we're missing out on training a new workforce. Most importantly, we're missing out on the jobs that come with that transition to renewable energy. It's a disgrace that this government has no policy to reduce carbon emissions and that we're missing out on those job opportunities for our future.

7:10 pm

Photo of Anne WebsterAnne Webster (Mallee, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to support this motion and to speak to the practical measures that the Commonwealth government is taking to reduce emissions. In my electorate of Mallee these measures are also improving our local economy, our jobs and investment prospects.

In a previous speech to the House I spoke of Mallee's potential to be a nation leader in renewable energy, with wind projects in the south and significant solar projects in the north. But I also argued that we need to prioritise projects that will increase our nation's transmission capacity in order to harness the full potential of existing resources and to promote future investment in renewable energy. I'm happy to inform the House that since my last speech the Commonwealth government has chosen Kerang, in my electorate, as the route for the new VNI West interconnector between Victoria and New South Wales. The government has also invested $250 million in the 2020 Commonwealth budget to expedite this and other key transmission projects, including the Marinus Link. This is a huge win for Mallee as it will allow the solar energy sector in the north of the electorate to flourish and expand. Private investors have been knocking on the door for years, but some have lacked confidence due to the lack of transmission capacity. I'm so pleased that the Commonwealth government is supporting this thriving and growing industry in my electorate, and I'm eager to work with industry and private investors to get more solar power into Mallee.

I've also spoken about my desire to see Mallee become a hub for hydrogen energy and biofuels, and there has been a lot of progress made in this space as well. The Loddon-Mallee branch of Regional Development Australia has completed its hydrogen road map, which plots a course of opportunities for investment and growth in our region for the emerging hydrogen industry. It identifies several opportunities for Mallee in hydrogen, including pursuing collaboration with industry, attracting investment and establishing a hydrogen steering committee.

Another local organisation, the Mallee Regional Innovation Centre, has also received funding to take part in a nationwide hydrogen cluster through National Energy Resources Australia, NERA. This cluster will advance research on new hydrogen technologies to help develop this emerging industry. This places Mallee in a position to be a leader in hydrogen, which is very exciting, given the prospect of linking solar generation with the creation of clean hydrogen. This is also something I supported and campaigned for.

I have also recently met Luke Jansen and Mike Free of FreeGen, a company aiming to produce millions of litres of renewable green fuel, as well as hydrogen, at a facility to be constructed in Mildura. Their technology takes waste products and converts them to hydrogen and green fuels. The green fuel they aim to produce can replace diesel in existing transport and machinery to rapidly lower emissions. FreeGen is seeking support to secure private investment for their project, which would lead to hundreds of new jobs for the region.

This week I was pleased to host Linda and Peter from RDA Loddon-Mallee; Leonie and Rebecca from the Mallee Regional Investment Centre; and Michael and Luke from FreeGen in Canberra. The group met with the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, to discuss this exciting work. Whether it's through investments in new technologies or strengthening the nation's transmission capacity, the Morrison-McCormack government is focused on energy security for future generations and is committed to reducing emissions and tackling climate change.

I support ongoing investment into renewable energy technologies in my electorate and into Australia's energy grid infrastructure. And I will continue to support the development of related projects in my electorate of Mallee.

7:14 pm

Photo of Josh BurnsJosh Burns (Macnamara, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

When looking at the motion put forward by my neighbour, the member for Goldstein, you have to verify the numbers. These are the sorts of numbers that would come out of the minister for energy's office. The minister for energy's office isn't famous for their ability to produce quality numbers. We remember the last time the minister for energy tried to download some numbers from the City of Sydney's website. We remember when the minister decided to download the travel logs from the City of Sydney's website. We have to trust but verify numbers from this minister, and we have to trust but verify numbers from the member for Goldstein. The truth is that Australia's emissions are a laggard. We are a laggard on the international stage. As Australians, we are on the front line of climate warming and climate change, yet we are way behind in terms of climate policy.

I read with interest an article in the Nine papers by a journalist called James Massola. It was all about factions in the Liberal Party.

Mr Falinski interjecting

I will take the interjection from the member for Mackellar because he was one of the star features of the article, one of the powerbrokers of the modern Liberals. One thing I read with interest from Mr Massola's article was that the modern Liberals, the subfaction within the broader faction of the Liberal Party, have been rewarded with a few committee chairs. They haven't been rewarded with ministries; the modern Liberals have been rewarded with a chair of the Economics Committee and lots of other chairs, but they don't quite make it to the upper echelon. The modern Liberals are the underfaction of the Liberal Party. You can see it, because it's not just about the roles that they're given; it's also about the policies that they put forward. There have been a few. I noticed the member for North Sydney was pushing for net zero emissions by 2050, but the Prime Minister shut that down very quickly. Many others have said that maybe there should be net zero emissions by 2050, given all the states and territories, the Business Council, the Farmers Federation and the free world have already committed to net zero emissions by 2050, yet the government, despite the gnawing by the modern Liberal faction, despite the clutching by the modern Liberal faction, haven't been able to move a policy that is anywhere near credible climate policy.

There is a government instrument that would be helpful in bringing down our emissions. There is one. It's sitting on the books right now and it is called the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The member for Mackellar was very busily interjecting when I was speaking before but was silent when the member for New England moved amendments on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The member for Mackellar also didn't interject when the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction decided to pull the Clean Energy Finance Corporation because, in its state of disarray, it was unworkable. What did the government want to do to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation before the member for New England came in here and moved an absurd amendment that not even the government could support and they had to pull the entire bill? The government wanted to reduce the low-emission aspect of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation so the Clean Energy Finance Corporation could invest in programs that weren't about low emissions. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation also wanted to remove the financial tests for the return on investment of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Their idea of emissions reduction policy and supporting government agencies that are actually doing the work on the ground in emissions reductions was to make sure that they could invest in higher emissions technology, not low-emissions technology, and there was poor economic management and a poor return on investment. That is the legacy of this government. It's dysfunctional. The Nationals are all over the place. The modern Liberals are giving it a go, but they're only getting the committee chairs; they're not getting the ministries. What we have seen is that we are an international embarrassment and a laggard on climate policy. Quite frankly, we need a Labor government to get this job done.

7:19 pm

Photo of Jason FalinskiJason Falinski (Mackellar, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm not sure whether to move an extension of time. I haven't seen a comedy act better than that since two clowns and a circus monkey got involved! Three rings and a Josh Burns are what every good children's party needs!

The member for Macnamara seems to have confused Australia with that imprisoned island of Cuba. How un-Australian! You're meant to go to the United Nations to have some tin-pot regime shout down a liberal democracy on the basis of human rights, not come to the Federation Chamber of the national parliament to hear an opposition backbencher—I would describe him as humble, but I believe that would be misleading the parliament—say, 'This faction of the Liberal Party, these modern Liberals, are giving it a go.' They're only some of the most important House of Representatives committee chairs in this place, but he, as a backbencher in opposition, can tell us all about how we should be running climate policy in Australia!

The fact of the matter is that the member for Kingsford Smith and the member for Macnamara simply have to come in here and use the same sort of illogical, irrational, unmathematical—innumerate would be a word you could use for both members; however, it would be unfair to those genuinely suffering from innumeracy. Everything that is up is down in their world. An increase is in fact a decrease. A decrease is in fact an increase. The member for Kingsford Smith was holding up a prop, but he was holding it upside down! Those opposite are a three-ring circus. I would like to say they're missing clowns, but the problem is that they're all clowns—every single one of them.

This government has driven down greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. We have put the highest level of investment into renewable energy, compared to anywhere else in the world, per capita, multiplied twice. The rest of the world is looking at us, going, 'How can we do it as well as they're doing it?' The members opposite compare us to places like the United Kingdom, which had a 68 per cent decrease in greenhouse gases, but fail to mention the fact that they don't have any extraction resources or an export farming sector. They look at New Zealand—whose emissions have gone up, while ours have gone down by 19 per cent—which excludes agriculture from their outcome. Australians are leading the world. We should be proud of what we've managed to achieve, given the circumstances in which we have achieved them.

We are exporting gas to those countries that otherwise would be using coal-fired power. We have reduced greenhouse gas emissions in South Korea and Japan, and the only thing that the opposition can do is sneer, fear and smear. They are their three tactics. They cannot deal in facts, they cannot deal in numbers, and they cannot deal in graphs held the right way up. All that they can deal in, quite frankly, is sneer, fear and smear, because they need to silence anyone who stands up with a factual statement. Fact: Australia is per capita the largest investor in renewable energy anywhere in the world by a factor of two. Fact: our emissions have come down by 19 per cent since 2000.

We have met our Kyoto targets. We will meet our Paris targets. The Prime Minister has made it clear that our aspiration is to get to net zero before 2050 if possible. Unlike those opposite, who have a target without a plan—because let's face it, those opposite are a conclusion in search of a fact, and they're yet to find one—this government is achieving what it said it would. We are not taxing Australian households. We are not taxing Australian companies. We are not destroying jobs. We are leading the world, and we should be proud of it. It's about time those opposite got in the game of agreeing and putting that forward.

Photo of Llew O'BrienLlew O'Brien (Wide Bay, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned, and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 19:25