Senate debates

Thursday, 22 March 2012


Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

6:32 pm

Photo of Doug CameronDoug Cameron (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As everyone is aware, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has one of the most important jobs in this country—that is, to ensure that one of the wonders of the world is kept in a pristine manner. This report states that climate change and the bleaching of the coral reef are key issues that have to be dealt with. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has recognised that coral bleaching and the problem of Australia's changing climate are issues that affect the wellbeing of the reef, but the coalition do not recognise this.

What we are trying to do as a government is to play our part in the global attempt to make sure that global warming does not increase by four degrees. In this country, if global warming were to increase by four degrees it would mean average annual temperature increases of about three to five degrees in coastal areas and four to six degrees in inland areas. This has huge impli­cations for the Barrier Reef, and the coalition have got absolutely no way to deal with it this. They just do not have any capacity to understand the issue. Again, what you see from the coalition is that their policies are determined by the amount of money that is flowing into their electoral coffers from people like Clive Palmer, 'Twiggy' Forrest and Gina Rinehart. Millions of dollars flow in and then they forget about the national interest. That is how this lot behave.

It is clear that unless we deal with climate change and global warming then the coral reefs will continue to bleach, the temperature of the oceans will continue to rise and the ecosystems in the Great Barrier Reef will be detrimentally affected—in some aspects, never to recover. Some members of the coalition understand the implications of this. The former leader, Malcolm Turnbull, understands the issues. Senator Birmingham, for his own reasons, has backflipped on his understanding of and support for the need to deal with global warming. We really need to understand that global warming is a threat to the Great Barrier Reef and that the coalition's direct action policy will have no effect, will not deliver on doing anything to look after the Great Barrier Reef.

It is interesting to note that, when Treasury looked at the direct action policy and gave a brief to the opposition after the last election, they said:

Direct action measures alone cannot do the job without imposing significant economic and budget costs.

…   …   …

Moreover, many of the direct action measures cannot be scaled up to achieve significant levels of abatement, and for those that can be scaled up, the cost per tonne of abatement would rise rapidly.

So the coalition's policy of so-called direct action will not help the Great Barrier Reef. The Treasury understand that it is far too expensive. The former leader, Malcolm Turnbull, understands that it is far too expensive. We know that it is a policy that will not deliver and will not protect the Great Barrier Reef. That is why we need to get the coalition off that money that is flowing in to them from Clive Palmer, a noted climate change denier, so that they can develop policies in the national interest. It is clear that the coalition are not developing policies in the national interest; they are simply the puppets of Clive Palmer and the ilk of Clive Palmer. It is about time to develop decent policies and stop looking at their electoral interest before the national interest. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.