Senate debates

Monday, 30 November 2009

Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009 [No. 2]; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2009 [No. 2]; Australian Climate Change Regulatory Authority Bill 2009 [No. 2]; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (Charges — Customs) Bill 2009 [No. 2]; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (Charges — Excise) Bill 2009 [No. 2]; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (Charges — General) Bill 2009 [No. 2]; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS Fuel Credits) Bill 2009 [No. 2]; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS Fuel Credits) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2009 [No. 2]; Excise Tariff Amendment (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme) Bill 2009 [No. 2]; Customs Tariff Amendment (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme) Bill 2009 [No. 2]; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Amendment (Household Assistance) Bill 2009 [No. 2]

Third Reading

11:35 am

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Climate Change and Water) Share this | Hansard source

There are so many retorts that I would like to make, Mr President, but I will not indulge myself. This is a big reform. We knew that when we took it to the Australian people at the last election and we also knew that when we sat down to negotiate with the opposition. This is a long-term, lasting structural reform to the Australian economy. It is about making a change now over the decades to come because that is the only way in which we can respond to climate change. These sorts of reforms, historically in this nation, have only succeeded when there has been leadership across this parliament and it is regrettable and to the great detriment of this nation and to the great shame of the Liberal Party that they have fallen, as a party, so short.

I do have some acknowledgements that I wish to make. I first want to thank Labor members and senators who have campaigned for and supported this great Labor reform for the future of the nation. They have done and will continue to do what is hard, not because it is easy but because it is right. They will continue to look to the future and that is the way this party and this government will continue to go forward. I want to particularly thank and acknowledge the Department of Climate Change and all public servants across government who have served this government and previous governments with professionalism and have demonstrated their enormous capacity for hard work over two years in working up this reform. I thank them and I think the Australian people thank them for the work they have done to contribute so much to this important and big reform.

I also want to thank those members of the Liberal Party who, whatever the differences I have with some of their public policy positions, have shown a willingness to look to the national interest. We saw some of that on display here today and I thank them for that. It is regrettable that too many of their colleagues have chosen instead to go the other way and not look to the national interest. Most of all, I want to acknowledge the many Australians who have continued to support action on climate change and have continued to call for it; the many who have emailed, written or phoned not only my office but also the offices of others in this government to express their support. I particularly want to thank young Australians because this is an issue that so many young Australians care so deeply about. I have often said that the discussion that is had and the questions that are asked when I have spoken to groups of young Australians at times would leave the Senate looking somewhat inadequate.

This is a debate about the future, and Australians know this. In the heat and fury of today’s fight it is often easy to lose perspective, and too many opposite have lost that perspective. The question is: how will this look tomorrow; how will this look in a few years; how will this look 10 or 20 years from now? Long after most of us have left this place, we will continue to be held accountable. We should leave this place being able to look Australians in the eye and say: ‘We acted. We took responsibility.’ Instead, some of those opposite will simply have to look Australians in the eye and say: ‘I voted this way. I voted for the future not now and in fact not ever.’ This government and this party will hold true to the aspirations of the Australian people. We will do all we can and continue to do all we can to safeguard our children’s future and we will not take a backwards step. I commend the bills to the chamber.

Question put:

That these bills be now read a third time.

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