Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. Today, Minister, 117 bushfires are burning across the country, 100 per cent of the state of New South Wales is officially in drought and climate change is baking the Murray-Darling and the Great Barrier Reef. Instead of demonstrating genuine climate leadership, your government has caved in to the right wing of your own party room, abandoning emissions reductions and investment certainty. Your government shows no commitment to promoting clean energy, no commitment to reducing carbon emissions and no commitment to tackling climate change. When can we expect this government to stop knifing its leaders and get on with governing the country?
I thank Senator Hanson-Young for her question. I reject the premise of the question, and I would point out that driving up the price of electricity for families and pensioners and driving up the price of electricity for business by pursuing a 45 per cent emissions reduction target—or whatever it is that the Greens want to support today—by imposing higher taxes and higher electricity prices would not have prevented the drought or the fires that you are complaining about.
Obviously we're all concerned about the drought, and our government, the Liberal and National Party government, led by Prime Minister Turnbull and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, is taking very strong action to support farming communities in those drought-affected areas. We are taking the appropriate measures to ensure that we can bring down the price of electricity, to ensure that our energy supplies are more reliable and that we meet the emissions reduction target that we signed onto in Paris, but to do so in a way that is sensible, that is responsible, that doesn't hurt families and pensioners around Australia and that doesn't hurt our economic growth and job creation opportunities into the future. You go right ahead; you go to the next election with a policy to push up the cost of electricity when you know that it will hurt families and pensioners and will hurt our economy and cost jobs. We will go to the next election promising to deliver our plan for stronger growth and more jobs, to bring down the cost of electricity and to meet our emissions reduction targets in the way that is economically responsible.
Yesterday, Wesfarmers announced it has pulled out of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Minister, is this because they are embarrassed at your government's complete abandonment of carbon emission reduction targets or any action on climate change, the root cause of damage to the Great Barrier Reef? Doesn't this make a complete mockery of your bandaid solution to saving the reef?
When I last looked at my list of ministerial responsibilities, I don't believe I saw that I have ministerial responsibility for Wesfarmers. Wesfarmers, of course, is a great Australian business. But what motivates them to make their decisions is entirely a matter for Wesfarmers. If you want to know what has motivated Wesfarmers to take a particular course of action, I'm quite happy to pass on the phone number of their managing director or their government relations person.
The capitulation of the Prime Minister has left Australia with no plan to reduce energy emissions, no plan for transport emissions, no plan to capture emissions in land use and no plan to set up agriculture for the 21st century. Minister, what would a Prime Minister Dutton do?