Senate debates

Monday, 2 December 2019

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change

5:14 pm

Photo of Sam McMahonSam McMahon (NT, Country Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator McCarthy for this motion. She is my colleague from the Northern Territory. I respect her immensely and we agree on quite a few topics. But in this instance she is wrong. As a new senator, I came to this place with high expectations of the people I would be working with. I am pleased to say that my National Party and Liberal Party colleagues have all been very welcoming and supportive. I feel privileged to be able to say that my experiences with many of you across the floor have been no less rewarding. But I am confounded by repeated iterations of bills that seek to promote an agenda for a cause that has already been acknowledged by this government.

We do not virtue signal, glue ourselves to infrastructure or produce fake tears on television. That sort of behaviour is reserved for those of you who do not have any policies and who instead rely on hollow symbolism. Instead this coalition government is taking real and meaningful action to reduce our impact on the environment. We are getting on with the job because that is how you get things done. There is nothing productive in drawing people's attention to your misuse of terms like climate emergency. This coalition government has in place strong targets as part of coordinated global action to reduce our emissions by 2030. These targets will see a reduction of 50 per cent in emissions per capita and a 65 per cent reduction in the emissions of our economy. These targets are well considered and they are designed to be achieved without destroying our economy and without flinching at ridiculous claims of climate change that have zero basis in either fact or science.

Longer term targets are not a substitute for real action. That's why we are developing a national hydrogen strategy. We are already investing $140 million, including $50 million for the $496 million hydrogen energy supply pilot project in the Latrobe Valley, $5.7 million for the power to gas trial in New South Wales and $22 million for 16 hydrogen research and development grants—real action. We are also investing across the research, development and deployment spectrum to reduce emissions, including $50 million to identify and develop biofuels and lithium. Real action that delivers real results—that is how this coalition government operates.

To date, our track record is an enviable one. We are meeting or exceeding our targets. Indeed, we are on track to overachieve on our 2020 target by 367 million tonnes of carbon. For perspective, you need to consider that this represents a turnaround of 1.1 billion tonnes on the position we inherited from Labor in 2013. Those across the floor would surely agree that this is an incredible achievement—and we did it without the carbon tax. For further perspective, you must also consider that the total emissions from industry in Australia barely amount to one per cent of world emissions. Our footprint is incredibly small, it's minuscule; but we continue to tackle the problem, and we tackle it in earnest because we choose to and because we believe we should. Our policies are successful policies. We know this because not only are we meeting or exceeding targets; we are also seeing record levels of investment in renewables, more than double the per capita investment of the UK, Germany or France. In my home of the Northern Territory, investing in a $20 billion solar farm in Tennant Creek has recently been talked about—and we can be so magnanimous with this energy that we are going to generate that we are actually going to run an extension cord to Singapore so that they can use it. Recently, during a trip to Alice Springs, I was speaking with people on solar energy in Alice Springs. Alice is a solar city, so much so that people that are putting solar installations on their houses now are being restricted in how much energy they can feed into the grid because there is so much solar in the centre of Australia.

Details of our achievement of record levels of investment were confirmed in the report from the Australian National University. This report confirms that Australia has spent 11 times the global average on renewable power. We're hardly ignoring the problem. We have a clear plan to meet and beat our 2030 target through our fully funded Climate Solutions Package, which has mapped out to the last tonne how we will meet our targets. We are doing this while all the while supporting farmers, businesses and Indigenous communities. We're helping them reduce the amount of greenhouse gases, and doing it through the Climate Solutions Fund. We're bringing new electricity generation products online, such as Snowy 2.0 and the Battery of the Nation. We are supporting households and businesses to improve energy efficiency and lower their power bills.

Just last week, we saw new data released that shows that emissions per person and the emissions intensity of the economy continue to fall and are at their lowest levels in nearly three decades. Emissions for the year to June 2019 are down 0.1 per cent. Once again, we did this without a carbon tax. We don't take these actions because someone stands in front of cars in Brisbane, or because there was a caravan of people that travelled from Tasmania to Queensland, or because some people waved signs and banged on bongos outside of Parliament House. We are motivated to do what is right. When this coalition government wants to see action, we take action.

The same cannot be said of those across the floor. In the brief time I have been in this place, I have witnessed the Greens senators engage in what can only be described as a campaign of obstruction, with a constant stream of nonsensical motions, divisions and inane commentary. I must congratulate them on recently achieving a new low standard that most certainly surpasses all their previous efforts to demonstrate supreme absurdity and egocentricity. Across vast areas of New South Wales and Queensland massive bushfires destroyed vast quantities of natural flora and fauna, properties, businesses, pets, livestock and, terrifyingly, human lives. Normal Australians would pull together and work towards helping those in need at times such as this. Senators for the Australian Greens instead chose that moment to harangue the hardworking people who are fighting the fires and to berate people suffering the loss of their livelihoods, the loss of all their belongings and worse. They accused us of being arsonists. Arsonists are people who deliberately light fires, fully with the understanding that it will cause destruction, devastation and death. That is a depraved, sociopathic way to refer to your colleagues in this place, and also trivialises the very real crime of arson.

Recently Professor Andy Pitman at the ARC Climate Centre repeated his statement regarding the perceived causal links between climate change and bushfires. There is no link—nil, zero, none—between the perceived climate emergency and these bushfires. The Greens will undoubtedly reference an opposing view, and they're entitled to do so. I also note an absence of temerity in their convictions as they collectively dodge, evade and hide from the offers Senator Roberts has extended to debate on the subject. Cowering from your own convictions is not what Aussies do. (Time expired)

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