Senate debates

Monday, 2 December 2019

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change

5:32 pm

Photo of Dean SmithDean Smith (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Kevin Rudd may well have said that climate change is the greatest moral hazard to affect our politics. I'd like to say that climate change has been the great political schism that has divided and confounded those on the Centre Left and the far Left of Australian politics for exactly that same period.

What we have seen this afternoon, and what we saw in greater clarity this morning, is the real consequence and the real lessons learned from Labor's election review, published just a short time ago. What we can see is the Left of Australian politics grappling with some pretty important issues. One of those issues is what priority they give to employment opportunities in this country. In particular, what priority will they give to employment opportunities in regional parts of our country? And nothing demonstrates that more than Labor's failure in Queensland—not just its failure at the federal election but its historic failure in the general election. Labor secured very, very few senators and Labor got its lowest vote in Queensland on record. This is a demonstration that, for Labor, aided and abetted by the Greens—and I'll come to that in a moment—this issue of climate change is causing them no end of grief. Why would they come into this chamber to talk about an anniversary that highlights the division on the Left of Australian politics? Why would they do that, unless it was some part of their existential grieving and learning?

What we've seen today is Labor pitted against the Greens. If the Greens were really interested in acting with the moral authority they talk about in this chamber and they talk about outside, they would abandon their blind faith in Labor, stop preferencing them at every election, go out there and say to Australian voters: 'You know what? We're actually not in bed with the Labor Party, so we would like you to choose who you might give your preferences to.' Walk out there, Senator Whish-Wilson, Senator Siewert, Senator Faruqi, with a split how-to-vote card. Why don't you put 'vote for the Liberals, vote for jobs' on one side? Why wouldn't you put 'vote for Labor' on the other?

What we've seen today is not the end of a debate but the beginning of a debate. Mark my words, 2020 will be marked by more conflict, more gut wrenching and more policy wrenching between the Labor Party and the Australian Greens. I don't know about Senator Canavan and I can't speak for Senator Brockman. I'm not going to get in your way. But Australians have made their priorities crystal clear—that is, they put current and future employment opportunities very high on their agenda.

In the debate on the motion of Senator McCarthy this afternoon, there has been lots of talk about what may or may not have happened and then there's this call for bipartisanship. The first point I would make is that if that was a call for everybody, it should be tripartisanship, not bipartisanship, because there are two parties of government—ourselves and a party that sort of joins with Labor in securing its legislative agenda more often than not. But in order to achieve a bipartisanship or a tripartisanship commitment, it requires a couple of key fundamentals—that is, you have to have a common view about the principles and you have to have a common view about what it is you're working towards or what it is that you're seeking to protect.

The coalition's position is very clear. Firstly, we put a high value on current and future employment opportunities, not just for today's Australians but also for future generations of Australians. Secondly, we put a high value on credible standards that we can take into the international community to meet or exceed our international obligations. We put a very high price on evidence and not just on emotion. When we think about what the coalition's attitude is to climate change, it's believable, it's credible and it's consistent. In the last general election, we saw Australians make a very clear choice. They trust believability, they trust credibility and they trust consistency. The coalition's record is characterised by strong targets. It has an enviable record that— (Time expired)


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