Senate debates

Monday, 7 December 2020

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change

5:35 pm

Photo of David VanDavid Van (Victoria, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

It's great to be in here to speak on this matter of urgency, and I thank Senator McKim for it. It's like a dorothy dixer session for us on this side. No doubt he'll try another one of his tricks through this, which I'll welcome, because then I get to have a drink of water. I've got a bit of a rough dose of hay fever today.

The Morrison Liberal government takes climate change seriously, and we are serious about delivering real outcomes, because it is outcomes and action that matter, not motions in the Senate and not grand declarations of targets without a plan to achieve them. We on this side of the chamber are ambitious to reduce our emissions but, unlike those opposite, we actually have a plan. Those opposite come into this place, beat their chests and jump up and down calling for greater action, but, when you ask how they would achieve that, what do you hear? You hear crickets. It is clear that those opposite, and especially those at the end of the chamber, are all talk and no action. They are all bluster and tokenism, positioning and politics. We in the Morrison Liberal government are not playing politics on this issue. While those at that end of the chamber are talking the talk, we are getting on with walking the walk.

Let's talk about the facts. Climate change is a global issue, and Australia, as part of the global community, is taking action. We are 100 per cent committed to a strong and practical global action in response to climate change. We are 100 per cent committed to the Paris Agreement. It was, after all, a Liberal government that signed the Paris Agreement. It was a Liberal government that adopted a 2030 target. It was a Liberal government that adopted a clear plan to meet and beat our 2030 targets. It was a Liberal government that remained committed to the Kyoto Protocol when others wavered. It was the Liberal government that beat our 2020 target by 459 million tonnes, and it will be a Liberal government that will meet and beat our 2030 target.

Why? Because with the Liberal government being in charge we've been able to set ambitious targets and then reach them, all without increases to taxes on everyday Australians and especially small businesses. When in government, those at that end of the chamber and opposite decided the only way to achieve emissions reductions was through the highly hurtful and harsh carbon tax. When Labor left government in 2012, their forecast was that emissions in this year, in 2020, would be 637 million tonnes, and that was with a carbon tax. Last week we learnt that our emissions are 513 million tonnes—20 per cent lower than what those opposite forecast that we would achieve. Guess what else? We got rid of the carbon tax.

When you compare our track record with the track record of those opposite, we've done far better. When you compare our track record with similar economies, we've done far better. Australia's emissions fell faster than the OECD average—faster than Canada, faster than New Zealand, faster than Japan and faster than the United States. Canada is not on track to meet its 2020 target. Canada's emissions are virtually unchanged since 2005. New Zealand expect that they will only achieve their 2020 target with the use of carryover. New Zealand's emissions are down by only one per cent since 2005. As of 2018, well before COVID-19, our emissions were down more than 13 per cent, and the latest data has Australia's emissions down by 16.6 per cent on 2005 levels. For those opposite to come in here and say we're not doing enough shows how little they care about facts, actions or outcomes. This Liberal government is getting on with the job.

The pathway to meaningful reductions in global emissions is through the development and deployment of new technologies. We're investing in future energy technologies that will support jobs, strengthen our economy, cut energy costs and reduce emissions. We are doing this without compromising the affordable, reliable power that Australians rely on. Our Technology Investment Roadmap is focused on reducing the cost of energy, not raising it. It is about making sure that there are more jobs and more investment, not less. Getting these technologies right will support 130,000 new jobs by 2030, many of those in regional Australia, and they will maintain Australia's position as a world-leading exporter of food, fibre, minerals and energy—all at the same time as reducing our emissions. The widespread global deployment of these technologies could substantially reduce or eliminate emissions in sectors responsible for 90 per cent of the world's emissions.

We want customers to choose lower emitting technologies because they make sense for them, for their household or for their business. This is not about a government telling businesses or households what they should do. Instead, it's about making sure that those lower emitting alternatives are there and at as low a cost as possible. This is a policy built on Liberal philosophy, a philosophy that has worked well for Australia for decades. Our plan is to reduce the cost of new technologies, not raise the cost of existing ones. In the budget, we also announced our $1.9 billion investment package to create jobs and bring new technologies into play.

So, while Labor and the Greens come in here, beat their chests and put forward tokenistic motions, the Morrison government is getting on with it. We're dealing with the issues and we're getting great results—reducing emissions, achieving our targets, reducing the cost of electricity for all Australians. We are focusing on delivering on the outcomes that matter, not tokenism, positioning or politics. Australia should be proud of our achievements. We should be proud of the fact that we are a world leader in energy, including renewables. We should be proud of the fact that we are in a very small group of nations that have met all their international targets, and we will have achieved this while supporting our key domestic sectors like mining, agriculture and manufacturing.

It was interesting, in the report that Senator McKim quotes, that in the UK government's plan they talk about delivering part of their emissions reductions through the use of advanced nuclear power. Perhaps the senators at that end of the chamber could come in here and have a sensible debate about nuclear energy one day, if they're serious about bringing down emissions, as opposed to just propping up their mates who sell solar panels. So we celebrate Australia's—


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