Senate debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change

5:50 pm

Karen Grogan (SA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Let's be clear: the only way to get a good climate policy—or any climate policy, for that matter—is to change the government. Moving away from fossil fuel requires an effective energy transition, and we have an incredible renewable future ahead of us. But only a Labor government will deliver this and will deliver Australia's potential as a renewable energy superpower, reduce emissions, reduce energy prices and deliver the industry and jobs growth that can be a serious part of addressing climate change.

We all remember when the Greens teamed up with Tony Abbott in 2009 to sink Australia's best chance at lasting climate action, and we are still reeling from that now. Had the Greens supported real action on climate change back then, Australia would be in a much better position today. The coalition's decade of delay has already cost thousands of new energy jobs and is setting Australia up for failure. The government's approach to this critical climate conference in Glasgow was just plain embarrassing. Rather than digging deep to commit to a plan for transition, the Prime Minister spent most of his trip to Glasgow in a diplomatic incident with France and being accused by President Macron of lying. Morrison had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the most basic commitment: a target of net zero emissions by 2050. Then he voluntarily signed an international agreement to revisit the 2030 targets at the end of the COP, but a few hours later he said he wouldn't. Liberal inaction, chaos and lies have left Australia behind the game in terms of economic opportunities. In contrast, Labor sees the world's climate emergency as Australia's jobs opportunity. We should be fighting at the front of this emergency, not whingeing at the back of the pack.

I'm proud to represent South Australia in this place. Under the Weatherill government, our state took the need to transition to renewables very seriously. We became a world leader in renewables and in building a low carbon economy. There are so many projects in South Australia, particularly in regional South Australia, such as the Hornsdale wind farm, the proposed Port Augusta renewable energy project, which is combining wind and solar and bringing together a clean energy generation capacity of 320 megawatts, and the South Australian big battery—the list of projects goes on. What it takes is a government that believes and a government that will commit to the economic development that is necessary in order to address climate change and build jobs.

South Australia has shown that a transition away from fossil fuels and towards clean renewable energy is possible, and it unlocks the economic opportunities and a pipeline of secure, well-paid, clean energy jobs. That is the pathway that an Albanese Labor government will also take. But time is running out, and we are desperately in need of a government that will take this emergency seriously—that will actually take serious action on well-balanced policies to make a fundamental difference to the future of this country.

I want to acknowledge that part of this motion talks about the rights of First Nations peoples in relation to climate action. First Nations peoples are critical to the process of responding to the climate emergency, with their deep knowledge of land management, the enormous leadership that they have shown, their commitment to balancing human needs with environmental needs, their inherent connection to the land and their understanding of how the seasons operate and how to protect that land. First Nations voices are vital to the process, and clearly they are calling out for better engagement and a stronger voice in responding to this existential threat to their country. The only option we have to address climate change and build a better future for this country, which includes building our economic strength, is to change the government. Those opposite and those on the corner have no hope. It is only a Labor government that is going to deliver us a decent outcome and address climate change.

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