Senate debates

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change

6:25 pm

Photo of Murray WattMurray Watt (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Northern Australia) Share this | Hansard source

Only the most extreme climate denialist in this government could say that we do not face a significant existential problem based on climate change. There is no doubt that the climate change we are experiencing in Australia and across the world is something that requires immediate, strong action from government. In fact, we are seeing such action from many places around the world. Unfortunately, we are not seeing that from our government here in Australia. Instead, we have a government that remains committed to dismissing, denying and ignoring the severe climate change that we see all around us.

The Prime Minister, the Minister for Energy, Mr Taylor, and the coalition as a whole cannot continue to hide from their own data. The facts are that under this government carbon emissions continue to rise, contributing to the climate change that we see all around us. According to this government's own latest accounts, through the Department of the Environment and Energy, in the year to March 2019 Australia's carbon emissions rose by 0.6 per cent. It's no surprise given that this government's only plan is to waste an additional $2 billion on top of the $2.55 billion already allocated on former Prime Minister Tony Abbott's failed climate policy.

Australians have come to expect this from a government that is not serious about taking real action on climate change. The record of the Liberals and Nationals on climate speaks for itself. Carbon emissions have been continuously rising since 2014, after coming down by more than 10 per cent during the last federal Labor government. The government's own projections show the Liberals will miss the 2020 Kyoto commitment of a five per cent cut on 2000 levels. The government's own projections also show that emissions will keep rising all the way to 2030, missing their already inadequate 2030 target by a huge margin.

So after six years in government the Liberals and Nationals have failed to deliver credible and effective climate change policy, have consistently undermined the transition to clean energy, have avoided implementing any credible policies to cut pollution in the industry, energy, transport or agriculture sectors, and have repeatedly dismissed domestic and international concerns about their lack of credible climate policies and ambition. This government's fundamental problem is that it is increasingly dominated by climate sceptics, who remain unconvinced that climate change is happening and caused by our own actions as humans. Even today we've had another government minister, being interviewed by the media, not wanting to talk about and not wanting to accept that climate change is caused by the activities of humans. While ever this government is dominated by climate sceptics, we will not see the action that is urgently required by our country and by the world as a whole to deal with climate change.

It is deeply unfortunate that, on the government side of this chamber, this debate is being increasingly hijacked by extremists who deny the existence of climate change let alone the need to act. On the other hand, we see the serial stunt makers from the Greens. I've said before in this chamber that all we ever see from the Greens—

Senator McKim interjecting—

Here they go, winding up again with all their usual claptrap—the stunts from the Greens that we see over and over again. The Greens would have you believe that they have a monopoly on caring about climate change. We see their social media, we see their rallies, we see their antics and we see their advertisements as they try to prove themselves time and time again as the pious, sanctimonious protectors of the world that they like to position themselves as. The reality is actually quite different. There are many people in this chamber and, I dare say, even people in the government ranks who believe that climate change is a problem and that we need action. That's exactly why Labor went to the last federal election with a comprehensive plan to deal with climate change and to drive major reductions in Australia's emissions through a range of policies in almost every sector of the economy.

So don't believe the Greens when they want to position themselves as the only people who care about climate change. We're all sick of seeing the pious antics of these people who never actually have to face up to any of the communities who would be required to change their behaviour. I've never seen any of you out in Moranbah, in Rockhampton, in Middlemount or in any of those communities who face change. It's about time you started facing up to people. (Time expired)

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