Senate debates

Monday, 5 February 2018

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Climate Change

3:27 pm

Photo of Richard Di NataleRichard Di Natale (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Finance (Senator Cormann) to a question without notice asked by Senator Di Natale today relating to climate change.

Australians have been sweltering all summer. We saw temperatures higher than 47 degrees in Sydney. We've seen records broken; we've seen that right across the country. Indeed, we have had health authorities warn people to check on vulnerable members of their family to make sure they're okay. It's been the story of our summer. Our temperatures have made global headlines. Now, the Leader of the Government in the Senate might like to trivialise this and he might like to call it a weather report. Unfortunately, it's much more than simply a weather report; it is the science of dangerous climate change. It's something that we're facing, it's something that must be taken seriously and it's something we need to act on.

Neither the Liberals nor the Labor Party have a plan to clean up Australia's energy system, our transport system or our dirty, polluting exports to start to address the great challenge of dangerous climate change. But the good news is that in a few weeks' time, the people of Batman have an opportunity to put the tired, old politics of the past behind them and to choose a genuine alternative that is up to the challenge to make the transition away from dirty, polluting coal towards jobs-rich, clean renewable energy that is good for the environment, that is good for prices and that creates jobs for the local community. They have an opportunity to say that they want a more equal Australia, where the economy works for everybody; where we have a fairer tax system; where we support Medicare rather than propping up the private health insurance industry through those billion-dollar handouts; where we address housing affordability and renters' rights; and where we make sure our energy system is in public hands.

This is also an opportunity to say no to the polluting, jobs-destroying Adani coalmine. The opposition leader has said that for many years he has backed this mine, but now he says, in the midst of this looming by-election, that he is increasingly sceptical. He wasn't sceptical when he was told that Adani's megamine would produce over two billion tonnes of coal. If that were a coal seam a metre deep and 10 metres wide it would wrap around the earth five times. He didn't seem to be sceptical when marine scientists said if you dig up the coal from the Carmichael mine that is the end of the Great Barrier Reef. He wasn't sceptical when we informed him of the history of Adani's corruption, tax dodging and environmental vandalism, right around the world, in projects that it has been involved in. He wasn't sceptical then but, suddenly, now, with the prospect of losing a seat that's been in Labor hands since its inception, he has seen the light.

We welcome any change of heart from the government on this because we Greens are very proud to be leading the political agenda. We have seen it with the banking royal commission. We saw it with the bank levy adopted by the Liberal Party. We've seen it with reform to negative gearing and capital gains tax. We've seen it with the recent announcement of a national anticorruption watchdog. And soon we'll see it with the changing position on Adani. Our job is to implement Greens policies, and we are successful as we shift the political dial here in Australia and will continue to be successful in the lead-up to this by-election. We welcome any change. But let's be clear: this must be a fulsome and wholehearted commitment to stop the Adani mine not just weasel words to try and deal with a difficult political issue in the midst of a by-election.

This isn't just about Adani. We know that Adani represents a climate catastrophe, should it be approved, but it's also about the future of coal in our energy mix and what it means for Australia's long-term economic and environmental future. We absolutely need a rapid transition away from coal to renewables, battery storage, demand management and energy efficiency. This is a good-news story. This is jobs, this is investment and this is saving the Great Barrier Reef. This is a choice between the past and the future, a choice between an Australia that existed 50 years ago and a modern, 21st century sustainable, clean economy, one that looks after the environment and all of the people that depend on it. The way we get there is we get more Greens in parliament. We elect people, like Alex Bathal, who won't just promise things in the lead-up to an election but be forced to vote against them if elected—someone who will be true to those values, values like showing compassion for refugees and tackling dangerous climate change.

Question agreed to.