Senate debates

Monday, 7 December 2020

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change

5:30 pm

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

I'm reminded of when grandma and grandpa dropped the kids off after they'd filled them with sugar. I think what they've done today is drive the kids to the Senate chamber!

In terms of this debate, and noting that I come to this place from an engineering background, I'm almost a little bit amused at the way there's this arbitrary declaration of what the emission target ought to be, as if we're able to sit here and make a statement that it should be this amount by this time and then someone else wants to kick the ball a bit further or have some other tactic. What we really need to do is understand that what we're trying to do is have energy that is clean, reliable and affordable. That's what I think everyone is trying to achieve.

Instead of just throwing out targets of one sort and then having someone else come back with a different target and then, a few months later, having a different target called for, we should actually approach this in an engineering manner. We should actually be developing a long-term national strategy for emissions reduction. Whilst it's okay to go into such an endeavour with some sort of requirement in mind, we actually need to work through and determine how that might be achieved and, in the execution of that plan, what the cost is, what the outcome is and all the things that are necessary to achieve a particular aim—and, indeed, whether the aim is, in actual fact, possible. That's the process that we should be taking, and it doesn't seem to happen here. We just have politicians standing up and saying, 'This is the new number that I want to declare today as the answer.'

We need to develop a strategy that is mindful of those goals that I talked about and of the need to create job opportunities along the way, to grow the economy, to maximise the benefits and minimise the cost, and to do so in a manner that is without risk. We want to make sure that when we do that it is a national strategy whereby we have the federal government working hand in glove with the state governments and also with local councils. We can't do that if we're playing this emission reduction target football, as we are. I would encourage all to perhaps pick up a book on system engineering and look at how you might approach a complex problem like this. Perhaps the government needs to very seriously look at the national plan that I talked about, a long-term strategy on emission targets, and have it open for everyone to look at and criticise. That's the only way we're going to get a sensible outcome, not by shouting and trying to outcompete each other in this chamber.

(Quorum formed)


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