Monday, 10 February 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann. In September the Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management, now the Deputy Leader of the National Party, David Littleproud, said:
I don't know if climate change is man made.
Does the Deputy Leader of the National Party's statement reflect the government's position?
The government's position is well known and well understood. We are committed to effective action on climate change and we are committed to a policy agenda which is environmentally effective and economically responsible. That is, of course, what we have been pursuing very successfully over the last 6½ years in government. Indeed, our commitment to an internationally agreed emissions reduction target has been consistent all the way through—through the Abbott government, the Turnbull government and now the Morrison government. Indeed, if you look at our—
Just to again confirm the government's position: we are committed to effective action on climate change. If you consider our performance against the 2020 emissions reduction target agreed to in Kyoto, we are beating that target. We are one of only a handful of countries that are beating their Kyoto emissions reduction target. Indeed, we are on track to meet our 2030—
It's on direct relevance, Mr President. I listened to your ruling earlier. The opposition would like some clarification on what the other aspects are of the question to which you believe the minister is being relevant. There was a reference to the deputy leader, then there was a quote and then there was a question about whether that statement reflects the government's position. I would ask you, Mr President, to indicate what are the other aspects of—
An honourable senator interjecting—
I'm entitled to do this, thank you. I would ask you, Mr President, to advise the chamber as to what are the other aspects of the question to which you believe the minister is being relevant.
On the point of order: you're quite right, Senator Wong. You had a quote there from the minister at the time and then a question that related to the quote. With respect, I think the minister is being directly relevant to the quote and the question in the subject matter he is dealing with. I can't instruct him how to answer a question. I think what he's saying is directly relevant to the quote and the question. I'm happy to review the Hansard. If I'm wrong, I will say so and I will be happy to take submissions on it. People are seeking me to direct the minister on how to answer a question, which is outside my capacity.
As is well understood, the government absolutely accepts that climate change is a global problem that needs to be addressed in a globally coordinated fashion. Indeed, Australia, as part of the global community, is doing its bit to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is doing so in a way that is environmentally effective and economically responsible. Indeed, if you look at our commitment to 2030 on a per capita basis it means a reduction in emissions by 50 per cent. On the basis of our emissions per unit of GDP we are committed to a reduction of two-thirds, which is more ambitious than the European Union, Canada, New Zealand and many other countries. What matters here is the policy position of the government. The policy position is very clear. We are committed to effective action on climate change, and we will leave the theological arguments to the Labor Party and the Greens.
As to whether it is human-induced climate change, my mind is open.
Does Senator Molan's statement reflect the government's position?
I'm asked about Senator Molan. Let me say what a fine senator he is for the great state of New South Wales. What an outstanding job he did working up and down the coast of New South Wales supporting bushfire affected communities. He is a fine senator, indeed. Senator Molan, like any individual senator in this place, is of course entitled to his opinions. But, as far as the government is concerned, the government's position is very clear. We are committed to effective action on climate change. as part of a globally coordinated effort. Our targets—
My point of order again goes to relevance. Senator Cormann has been asked to provide advice as to whether Senator Molan's position reflects the government's position. Senator Molan's position specifically goes to whether climate change is human induced. I am asking Senator Cormann to answer that question.
I appreciate that very-well-put point of order, but I think it goes to me instructing a minister how to answer a question. People are entitled to judge ministers' answers to questions. As long as they are directly relevant, they are within standing orders. I do believe that the material the minister is addressing is directly relevant to the question, and I call him to continue.
Thank you very much, Mr President. Let me say again very slowly: our government is committed to effective action on climate change. We are doing so in a way that is environmentally effective and economically responsible, and we are doing it as part of the global community.
Honourable senators interjecting—
Opposition senators interjecting—