Tuesday, 22 November 2022
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. How is the Albanese Labor government progressing action on climate change domestically and internationally, and what will this mean for Australian families and businesses?
I thank the honourable member for his question and recognise his leadership and advocacy on the matter of climate change. The Albanese government is acting domestically, implementing the policies we took to the election. We are implementing Rewiring the Nation to bring on new transmission. We are implementing reforms to drive down emissions because we know, on this side of the House, that renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy, and we know that renewable energy is key to driving down our emissions.
But we are also engaging internationally. As the House knows, I've just returned from Egypt at the Conference of the Parties. I'm pleased to report that the new government was warmly welcomed at the Conference of the Parties. I'm pleased to report to the House that the leadership provided by the government has been recognised around the world. I'm also pleased to report that we used the opportunity of the Conference of the Parties, which is now the world's largest trade fair, to sell Australia's wares as a renewable energy powerhouse. We know that being a renewable energy powerhouse will create hundreds of thousands of jobs across our country, particularly in the regions, and particularly as we can export that renewable energy to our region. This is something that was the subject of much discussion around the table with my counterparts from the South-East Asia region in particular.
The Conference of the Parties, the COP meeting, is also an important opportunity for the world to engage on this most important challenge. Australia played an important role. This conference was difficult. It had its challenges, but Australia, working with our allies and friends, made an impact. I was very pleased that this conference reaffirmed the commitments made at Glasgow to hold the world, as close as possible, to 1.5 degrees, something that Australia was integrally involved in arguing. I'm also pleased that the conference adopted our suggestion that multilateral development banks, particularly the World Bank, should step up on this world challenge, and that the task of driving a faster transition to renewables was reflected in these decisions.
This is what leadership is about. This is the leadership the Prime Minister has been providing this week, and since the election, on these most important international challenges, and this is being recognised. We know that good international leadership is good for our region and good for our geopolitical and economic best interests, as well as being the right thing to do.
I enjoyed working so closely with Pacific leaders this week, who have responded so warmly to this government's agenda on climate change. I enjoyed working with them on some of the important challenges that this COP provided. We'll continue to do that work because we know that leadership at home and leadership abroad are equally important when it comes to this most important challenge.
It has been a decade since I asked a question! My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy. At a time when Australian families are being hit by Labor's price hikes in electricity and gas, why on earth did this government sign up to a new United Nations fund which will channel Australian taxpayers' money to other countries, including China?
Honourable members interjecting—
It's unsurprising, perhaps, to get a question like that from this opposition led by a man who thinks that the impact on the Pacific of climate change is a laughing matter, who thinks it's a great big joke. We don't on this side of the House. We will work with the Pacific because we know that that is in our interests as a country in a very complicated geopolitical environment. Not only does this opposition engage in this sort of cheap dog-whistling politics; they also don't even know what was agreed. I'm surprised to get a question like this from a man who was the minister for the Pacific. That's the best they can do! He was the man in charge of our relations with our region.
I guess if you were the minister for the Pacific and you didn't actually go to the Pacific, that's probably the sort of point of order you would take. The other point of order you would take if you asked a question like that is one of relevance. The opposition appears unaware that in fact, as part of these negotiations and discussions, Australia argued successfully that the donor base should be reviewed so that those countries that weren't rich in 1992 but have now become developed and are now wealthy should contribute—not receive but should contribute to the fund. That might have passed you by. That's exactly what we are doing. We were joined by the United States, the European Union, Canada and New Zealand. I understand that the difference between donor and recipient might be a bit confusing to those opposite, but that is exactly what we argued, and that was exactly reflected by the text, which indicates a multiplicity of donors and a revision of the donor base.
So if the opposition is going to go down this cheap and nasty road, they want to at least get their facts right. Previous prime ministers have understood that engagement on these issues is important. John Howard knew that. In the aftermath of the tsunami he knew that contributing to Indonesia's recovery was good for Indonesia, good for our region and good for Australia. But John Howard was a leader. He was a leader who understood our national interest. The current Leader of the Opposition does not understand the national interest; he just understands cheap and pathetic politics.