Senate debates

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change

6:17 pm

Photo of Louise PrattLouise Pratt (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Manufacturing) Share this | Hansard source

Tonight we are discussing the urgency motion put forward by the Greens and, indeed, I'm lending my voice to call on the government to act on the climate crisis that's clearly evident across the globe and here in Australia. It's not good enough in our nation that Minister Taylor and the Prime Minister simply continue to espouse rhetoric and do nothing about Australia's increasing carbon emissions. It seems pretty extraordinary to me that, somewhere in the Liberal Party's talking points about meeting commitments and emissions going down, they're actually not looking at their own data and their own statistics from their own agencies.

Even when our Pacific neighbours have called on the Australian government to take action on climate change, Minister Angus Taylor and Prime Minister Morrison have dismissed, denied and ignored the fact that there is indeed a climate emergency. As the motion says, we are facing an existential climate crisis. The word 'existential' might, for many, conjure up French philosophy, but when we are talking about our very existence on our planet it is clear the Liberal Party has not faced up, in any sense of the phrase, to the link between the policy settings of this nation and the future of our planet.

We have in the Morrison government an existential crisis of policies. I would add, though, that this existential crisis extends to the nature of debate in this place—and I look back at the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme being rejected in this place by the Greens. It is a deep shame that we have an existential policy crisis that rolls on and on and on. Meanwhile, there are global hurricanes and there are fires in Queensland.

We have to come to grips with our policy settings as a nation, as we are one of the most carbon-intensive economies in the world—if not the most carbon intensive. But, with this government, we have seen so many ways to bury your head in the sand. The Liberal-National policy department did their best work in coming up with their strategies on dealing with climate change: bury your head in the sand; do nothing; nothing to see here. The government's ERF policies and the savings that they've made—handing over vast buckets of money to make those savings—do nothing to curtail and set targets on industry carbon emissions. Nothing to see here!

So, as well as a policy vacuum that's been frustrating our Pacific neighbours and doing nothing about climate change, we have the government's record before us where, since 2014 and the Abbott years, carbon emissions have been continuously rising. After coming down by more than 10 per cent during the last Labor government—the government that actually had a climate policy, and we did—the government's projections show that the Liberals and the Nationals will miss the 2020 Kyoto commitment of a five per cent cut on 2000 levels. That does not sound to me like—as the government has characterised it—'meeting that commitment in a canter'. I say to the government: if it was that easy to do it in a canter, and we are facing climate change risks, why would you simply do it in a canter? Why aren't you doing it at a gallop and setting some ambition for our economy to make a contribution to cutting global emissions and actually driving innovation in the Australian economy? No Australian would be surprised by the figures on climate change. (Time expired)


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