Senate debates

Monday, 2 December 2019

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change

5:27 pm

Photo of Nita GreenNita Green (Queensland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

On one side of the chamber, we've got climate change deniers at war with science and firefighters. We can see from the interjections from the senators at this end of the chamber that they don't like to be reminded of what they did 10 years ago. They would rather put a fancy slogan on a T-shirt and head out there and point their finger at people in regional Queensland and tell them what they should be doing with their future. Well, I'm not going to cop that, because I stand here representing every single Queenslander, and that means people in every single part of regional Queensland. That's an uncomfortable thing for the Greens party to understand, because they want to slice and dice and divide our community.

The urgency motion should be a wake-up call to the government and the Greens, a reminder that their fight against Labor, the determination to stay in government on one side or to stay relevant, is hurting working Australians. By voting against the CPRS, the Greens voted against a mechanism that would put Australia's emissions on a downward trajectory beyond 2020. Instead, as a result of their actions, we are now on a trajectory that will see emissions rising until at least 2030, according to government projections. And whilst the Greens supported Labor's Clean Energy Future package two years later, the political damage was done, and we haven't recovered in this country from that debate.

A decade of policy instability has prevailed, preventing necessary investment in energy infrastructure and leading to increases in energy prices and increased emissions. More broadly, Australia's lack of action on climate change has had real economic impact for our communities—often, the members of our communities who can afford it the least. The living standards of Australians are going down, and emissions and electricity prices are going up. I want to talk about these economic impacts because they are something that people in this place forget to talk about.

We have seen higher electricity prices all across the country. Again, the attempt to rectify this situation by the government resulted in the undoing of Malcolm Turnbull for the second time. This is not a comfortable policy area for the government, because they are bitterly divided. And we have seen higher insurance costs all across the country, and there is a particular warning that, if the climate change risks are not addressed, then we will see the number of uninsurable addresses in Australia double by the turn of the century. People will be uninsurable, and some of them are already uninsurable in parts of North Queensland. Insurance companies want mitigation funding to resolve this, because they recognise that climate change is having an economic impact on people in regional Queensland.

We have seen uncertainty for the manufacturing industry. I know that the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia likes to talk about the manufacturing industry, and how the government's policies are helping the manufacturing industry, but the truth is, when you go to talk to the people working in the manufacturing industry in Far North Queensland, that the lack of a national energy policy is hampering new investment in technology for reduced emissions and for business growth. The government wants to talk about jobs and supporting industry, but how many jobs are the government putting at risk by not putting an energy policy in place?

The other economic impacts of course are the potential and current impacts on the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is an economic powerhouse, contributing more than $5.6 billion each year to the Australian economy, and providing around 70,000 jobs. That's a huge number of jobs, and we know that the outlook for the reef was downgraded this year.

I make no apologies for taking on the government, and I make no apologies for taking on the Greens on this issue. The Greens political party promoted the anti-Adani caravan as an opportunistic tactic to boost their Senate vote in Queensland. We have wonderful spokespeople in regional Queensland on these issues, and instead of listening to them and instead of giving them a voice, both parties are trying to drown them out. They want to continue to divide the community and, 10 years later, what do we have to show for it? (Time expired)

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