Senate debates

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change

4:39 pm

Photo of Claire ChandlerClaire Chandler (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I inform the Senate that at 8.30 am today 21 proposals were received in accordance with standing order 75. The question of which proposal would be submitted to the Senate was delivered by lot. As a result, I inform the Senate that the following letter has been received from Senator Rice:

Pursuant to standing order 75, I give notice that today I propose to move "That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

The urgent need for the Morrison Government to announce science-based 2030 targets given that it has completely failed Australians on climate change, using up over 40% of Australia's carbon budget since 2013."

Is the proposal supported?

More than the number of senators required by the standing orders having risen in their places—

I understand that informal arrangements have been made to allocate specific times to each of the speakers in today's debate. With the concurrence of the Senate, I shall ask the clerks to set the clock accordingly.

4:40 pm

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

At the request of Senator Rice, I move:

That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

The urgent need for the Morrison Government to announce science-based 2030 targets given that it has completely failed Australians on climate change, using up over 40% of Australia's carbon budget since 2013.

The Prime Minister is now vaguely talking about 2050, and Labor are talking about 2050. The science says that 2050 is too late. A report was released last week that says that actually what we do in the next 10 years is what counts. The critical decade is now. 2050 targets are very attractive for do-nothing governments, do-nothing oppositions and do-nothing businesses that don't want anything to be done in the critical decade. Having 2050 targets with no policies is just code for 'someone else's problem'. We need science based targets to be guiding our climate policies in this nation. Delay is the new denial.

The Climate Targets Panel report that I referred to, which was released last week, says that, to have a chance of staying within two degrees of warming, the government's 2030 targets need to be doubled. We need to halve the pollution that we had aspired to have by 2030 if we are to have a chance at keeping within two degrees. That report also clarifies that if we want to have a chance of keeping within 1½ degrees—which might actually save what's left of global coral reefs, lessen the burden on our farmers and our agricultural sectors and lessen the severity of the natural disasters that we've all been facing, which is what we should be aspiring to as a nation—in fact we need to reduce our pollution by 75 per cent by 2030. So this report's saying the government needs to double its targets to even have a chance of two degrees, but we need far stronger action on the climate crisis if we want to have a chance of saving the planet as we know it.

So the discussion about 2050 is over. The question is: what's the government going to do about its 2030 targets, and when on earth are we going to see a 2030 target from this flaccid opposition? They continue to bat away the question. It is not good enough. We need science based targets, and we need all parties to be guided by them. It should not be a question of politics; it should simply be us taking the advice from the experts. We have a small window.

President Biden's climate summit is coming up in April. We might not even get invited. We didn't get much of a guernsey last time, did we? This Prime Minister has absolutely no credibility on the global stage on climate, so we might not even be invited to President Biden's April climate summit. But, if we are, what's the Prime Minister going to do? Is he actually going to comply with what the science says? Is he going to increase that 2030 target? It is untenable for the government to continue to insist that these weak, pathetic targets, which we're not even on track to meet, are adequate, and it's untenable for the opposition to continue to ignore the need for 2030 targets and promise to tell us all at some point—who knows when?

That independent Climate Targets Panel did that work last week; the Climate Change Authority should be doing that work. They've updated those targets based on our global carbon budget. Net zero by 2050 isn't even what the science says anymore, so that's a bit of a problem for the Prime Minister and the Labor Party. The latest data says that in fact we need to have net zero by 2045, not 2050. In fact, for 1½ degrees, we need to be net zero by 2035.

The other very troubling finding from that report was that since this mob took government in 2013 we've used 40 per cent of our two-degree budget and 55 per cent of our 1½-degree budget. We cannot muck around any longer. We may or may not get an invite to that Biden climate summit, but the world is watching what we do. The Prime Minister sees risks; the Greens see opportunities, and we see consequences for continuing to ignore this problem.

The Liberals and Nationals will send Australian farmers bankrupt as the new climate dries land out along the coast and floods it in unbearable heat in the north. The only way we can avoid that future is with strong, science-based 2030 targets. We invite the Labor Party to say something about that and the government to double their ambition in that regard.

4:45 pm

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Well, here we go again: the Greens fixated on lots of talk and no action when it comes to the provision of clean energy and the lowering of emissions. The topic of alternative energy through new technology is one that's close to my heart, having dedicated much of my time to the wonderful Hunter region, where traditional mining takes place alongside an area booming with developing new energy sources. On one recent visit I was able to break ground at the site of a new lithium-ion battery factory, where the technology team at Energy Renaissance is supported by the CSIRO. The Commonwealth government's first low-emissions technology statement has identified energy storage as a priority technology for Australia to support emission reductions and jobs growth. Affordable and reliable batteries are already becoming a critical element of renewable electricity supply and clean transport and for use in a range of defence applications.

Australia is a world leader in the implementation of batteries on the grid, but we're using foreign companies to supply our batteries, making this a future energy security issue. Australian supply reduces the risks in shipping, transportation and delivery and provides the Australian government and its key agencies, such as Defence, with a domestic option. China accounts for 62 per cent of the global lithium-ion battery industry. Quite simply, if we want more electric cars and buses, and if we want to reduce our emission levels, we're going to need more batteries. Australia is ideally placed to be at the forefront of the development and manufacture of these in-demand products. The early establishment of a domestic battery-manufacturing industry will value-add to critical minerals processed in Australia. According to the Future Batteries Industry CRC, there's currently no commercial production of battery-grade materials and chemicals in Australia. However, the wonderful new Energy Renaissance site at Tomago will be the first in Australia, with plans to export many of its batteries to Asian markets.

On the same day as I broke ground at the Energy Renaissance site, I visited the Bloomfield Coal Mine at East Maitland, where 600 Australian workers are employed in producing some of the highest-quality coal in the world. We won't turn our backs on any industry that supports the energy of Australians. Kudos to the Australian Hunter-based company Quarrymining, which is converting its big mining trucks to electric power. There are also other local Hunter Valley and Newcastle businesses who are getting on with the innovation and commercialisation that will drive our economic growth and provide renewable sources of power. These are the sorts of businesses that the Morrison government is backing. The Hunter region is a hotbed of energy innovation. MGA Thermal is a local company using renewable power to heat aluminium bricks during the day and generate steam from them overnight. The Morrison government has promised to build a gas plant powered specifically to ensure that Hunter businesses and consumers don't suffer the devastating consequences of energy shortages or blackouts. We remain committed to any technology that promises energy reliability and affordable comfort for all Australians.

I am supporting the Hunter in its bid to win the tender to be the first hydrogen hub funded by the Commonwealth. I'm working with local industries, renewables providers and other key institutions to put forward a case to make the Hunter a home for hydrogen development. With hydrogen we can capitalise on the growing international market for green steel and green aluminium, using the abundance of intermittent renewable energy to generate hydrogen to power these industries. There is no better place than the new hotbed of innovation for such a venture. The fact that it will create more jobs and bring investment to the region is another bonus for Australia.

Our government is investing $570 million in hydrogen. Hydrogen can be stored and transported and it can be 100 per cent cleaner. It's a wonderful source of energy for manufacturing and has the potential to further lower our energy emissions. We will continue to support this sector which also has the potential to see Australia export hydrogen to other countries. New energy technologies will expand production and increase productivity. We're not resting on our laurels when it comes to alternative energy sources and we will not rest until Australians and my great friends in the Hunter Valley have guaranteed cheap and secure sources of energy. It will be done with consideration for Australian businesses and consumers.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised that we won't tax our way to zero emissions. We won't put that burden on any Australian, especially our regional Australians. Getting to net zero is all about technology. Our emissions fell by three per cent in the year to June 2020, the lowest level since 1998. That's 17 per cent below 2005 levels. That's pretty impressive when you consider it. Our energy minister, Angus Taylor, has committed to investing $1.9 billion for the development of clean energy. When it comes to lowering emissions, we have an enviable record that's proving successful and is focused on technology, not taxes.

We have a clear plan. We're on track to meet our 2030 target. Labor don't even have a 2030 target. Our 2030 target is more ambitious than that of Norway, Canada, Germany, France and New Zealand. We want to get to zero emissions as soon as possible. We're focused on the how and the breakthroughs in technology that will be needed to reach net zero emissions. Over the past two years, our position against our 2030 target has improved by 639 million tonnes. That's the equivalent of taking all of Australia's 14.7 million cars off the road for—wait for it—15 years.

In 2020, a record seven gigawatts of new renewable capacity was installed in Australia. That's more renewables in one year under the Morrison government than under the whole previous Labor government term. Australia now has the highest amount of solar PV capacity installed per person in the world. We have the most wind and solar per person of any country outside of Europe. We're adopting renewables in Australia at 10 times the global average and four times higher than China and Japan, the US and Europe. We're doing it without sacrificing jobs and industries in regional Australia for no emissions benefit. Instead, the Morrison government is focused on the how and on the breakthroughs in technology that will be needed to make net zero emissions possible.

Investing in and supporting renewable technologies will support 130,000 new jobs by 2030 and maintain Australia's position as a world-leading exporter of food, fibre, minerals and energy. In contrast, Labor won't talk about how they would lower emissions, because they have no plan to achieve net zero—no plan and not a single policy. They continue to be divided and confused on energy matters which impact on everyday Australians. Our government is committed to ensuring a reliable energy supply. As our Prime Minister announced yesterday, agreements are in place to accelerate major transmission projects in New South Wales and Tasmania, with Victoria and South Australia to follow this year. We're building Snowy Hydro 2. We're rolling out a $200 million program to build new diesel storage facilities. Minister Karen Andrews is investing $1.5 billion in a manufacturing strategy prioritising critical minerals processing, recycling and clean energy.

This is a government committed to technology-driven sources of energy. We need practical and appropriate measures to reduce emissions in a way that supports economic growth. Labor and their Green partners have never committed so much money or support to groundbreaking technology that will enhance our energy development and secure our energy supply. But we are getting on with the job of lowering emissions and creating viable, new renewable energy industries that will support every Australian.

4:54 pm

Photo of Sue LinesSue Lines (WA, Deputy-President) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise in support of this motion today. Right now, as I speak, an out-of-control bushfire is threatening the outer suburbs of the Perth metropolitan area, and it's been reported that, horrifically, 30 homes have been destroyed. Thankfully, no loss of life has been reported, but the bushfire is raging out of control. We know that at Tilden Park, in Gidgegannup, 80 per cent of homes have been lost. Of course, my absolute sympathy goes to those homeowners who have been affected so far and their families and friends. We know the bushfire right now is far from out. Indeed, having spoken to colleagues just earlier today, we know it has jumped the Great Eastern Highway. You only have to look at the BOM site: there is smoke haze right across the Perth metropolitan area. We've seen reports of leaves on fire at Wanneroo. That is a long way—for those who don't know Western Australia and the Perth metro area—from the centre of the fire. As far away as Fremantle and Rottnest we're having smoke haze reported. This is a devastating event happening right now in Perth, and it shows no sign of slowing down.

What's also happened across Western Australia, and particularly Perth, over the last couple of weeks is that we've had extraordinarily high temperatures. In Perth now, when it's 35 degrees, we think it's a pretty cool day. We've become so accustomed to much higher temperatures. In addition to that, throughout the summer, we've experienced very strong easterly winds—much stronger than we would normally experience. So all of these issues are telling us that our climate is changing. The easterly winds are a direct contributor right now to those out-of-control fires in the Perth metropolitan area. Perth is a sprawling city, and the suburbs of Ellenbrook and Dayton—areas in the federal seat of Pearce—have been evacuated. This is not something that's happening out on the border; this is something that's happening in the Perth metropolitan region right now.

No doubt, when this fire has been put out, people will start talking once again about its connection to climate change. Twelve months ago we had the devastating fires in the eastern states and in South Australia, where, tragically, many people lost their lives and homes and businesses were destroyed. Livestock and people are still recovering. We still have people living in tents. Leading up to that, we had Greg Mullins and 22 other former fire chiefs begging the Prime Minister, Mr Morrison, to meet with them. They hadn't just suddenly started to talk about the risk of inaction on climate change, linking it to bushfires; they'd been trying to meet with him. They were mocked by the Prime Minister and they were mocked by government members. And what have we heard today? 'Oh, this is all about Liberal and Labor.' It's not, people. It's about climate change. It's real.

But we know that those climate-denying backbench members of the Morrison government, who the government will not hold to account, are still the people controlling the Morrison government. You have to ask yourself why, after seven years and 22 energy policy attempts, the Morrison government have no national energy policy, they continue an anti-renewables agenda and they refuse to capitalise on the huge benefits that clean energy can bring to Australian households and businesses.

We've heard, 'Oh, we don't want to lose jobs.' Never once have we heard them talk about the job creation that would happen from investing in renewables, investing in a proper clean energy policy. And yesterday we heard some weasel words from the Prime Minister at the National Press Club, because with the election of Joe Biden in the US, suddenly the right-wing cloth that he was able to hide behind, with Trump, has gone. So, now the stark reality is that we have someone in the US who's going to lead on climate change, and I think that is the only reason we saw a little bit of a shift from Mr Morrison, but no plans, not one single idea about job creation, about clean energy—just his throwaway line that he hopes to get there with a reduction by 2050, that he hopes to get there earlier. Well, it needs more than hope, Mr Morrison. It actually needs a government that is committed to the science of climate change, that holds its backbenchers to account when they put up ridiculous notions, that accepts that climate change is real, that accepts that what's happening right now in the Perth metropolitan area is real and that there's a link to climate change.

How many more reports that the globe is heating up do we need to have? Australia experienced its fourth-hottest year on record last year. Perth is experiencing right now—yesterday, today and tomorrow—unprecedented high temperatures and really strong easterly winds. This is affecting people and their jobs. If the Morrison government is serious about protecting jobs, it should start action on climate change. I don't know how many jobs the loss of 30 homes in WA represents. If you look at the flow-on effect of that, men, women and children—young people—have lost their jobs. Get real. Climate change is real. Stop denying the facts.

5:02 pm

Photo of Malcolm RobertsMalcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia, I need to say clearly that the climate change agenda seeks to mislead well-meaning Australians with pseudoscience to introduce and hide an economic and social agenda that Australians would otherwise reject. Senator Rice's motion does mischief. Australia does not have a carbon budget. The Senate has not voted for a carbon budget. The coalition's supposed climate action plan cap that underpins government policy does not include a carbon budget. Our international agreements do not include a carbon budget. The only place one can find a climate budget is in the Greens' own little parallel universe, where the aspiring elites in the Greens are in control of an economy that is not only green but rancid.

The devastation that will be caused to our economy by the measures the Greens propose in order to limit carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will destroy our economy, destroy jobs and steal opportunity from our children. The insult to real scientists is that Senator Rice calls climate change a science based agenda. No, it's not—definitely not. The argument in favour of a looming climate disaster is based on unvalidated computer models—nothing else. These are the same models that have failed repeatedly and miserably to predict temperature movement. The largest single driver of climate is the sun, which has moved into a solar minimum that is tracking the Dalton minimum, when the Thames froze over and crops around the world failed. In fact, crops are failing now. Northern China is experiencing widespread hunger, as exceptional cold destroyed the winter cereal crop. Australia, on the other hand, has moved from a dry cycle to a wet cycle. This is not climate change; it's a natural cycle.

I have challenged the Greens on many occasions to prove their position with empirical scientific evidence—data—and they have repeatedly been unable to. Indeed, today is day No. 502 of my challenge in the Senate to the Greens to simply provide the scientific evidence for their claims and for their alarm and to debate me on the science. Look at them all, looking at their phones; they won't look at me. I challenged the current Greens Senate leader 10¼ years ago, and nothing. That is more than a decade, and nothing. I notice that world-renowned scientist Tony Heller, who relies on solid data, has today challenged the Greens to a debate on social media. That's not going to happen either. And now we see the Nats. Well, that's another joke. So the Greens have no carbon budget and they have no idea.

5:05 pm

Photo of Sarah HendersonSarah Henderson (Victoria, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Once again it's clear that the Greens and the Labor Party are not interested in the facts facing Australia and our planet. As we've just heard in the contribution from Senator Lines, who did not mention one policy measure we have in place to combat climate change, it's clear that Labor is operating in an alternative reality. We only have to look at the chaos and the confusion in the Labor Party, as one spokesman is dumped and the deckchairs are rearranged on the faltering ship. We know that Mr Albanese backflipped on his support for the shadow minister Mr Butler in a desperate attempt to save his stumbling leadership, but moving Mr Butler out and putting Mr Bowen in doesn't change the fact that Labor does not have a single policy which will reduce emissions or lower energy prices. Mr Bowen bragged about being a key architect of Labor's failed climate policies that it took to the last election and to which they are still clinging. We know that independent economic modelling showed that Labor's 45 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 and its 50 per cent renewable energy target would hurt our economy badly and cost tens of thousands of jobs.

The member for Hunter has called them out on this, and of course we still see Labor hopelessly divided. The Nine newspapers reported in November that Mr Fitzgibbon pointed out:

… after 14 years of trying, the Labor Party has made not one contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in this country.

We see Labor fighting among themselves, and we see the member for Corio, Mr Marles. One minute he's in a coalmine and the next minute he's saying that the end of thermal coal would be a good thing. He's flip-flopping all over the place.

While Labor is all at sea, the Morrison government is getting on with doing the heavy lifting required. The Morrison government has a clear and successful emissions reduction policy which has allowed us to meet and beat our 2020 target and will ensure we meet and beat our 2030 target. Wholesale electricity prices have fallen for 16 months in a row, and quarterly prices are at their lowest level in six years. We have also seen a record eight consecutive quarters of year-on-year CPI reductions in retail electricity prices, putting more money in the hip pockets of Australian families and businesses. As Prime Minister Morrison told the National Press Club yesterday, Australia's economic recovery plan is underpinned by 'delivering affordable and reliable energy in a way that positions Australia to be successful in the lower and ultimately net zero emissions global economy' that is a part of our future.

The Prime Minister was quite clear yesterday: our goal is to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible and preferably by 2050. Critical to this outcome are the advances made in science and technology, and these are needed to commercially transform advanced economies and countries along with the developing world. Here in Australia, we will invest and partner in technology breakthroughs. These are needed to reduce and offset emissions so that our heavy industry in particular, and industry more broadly, can continue to grow and protect our jobs and living standards while at the same time keeping energy costs down. As the Prime Minister has made very clear, we will not tax our way to net zero emissions, which would put the cost on Australians in the cities and in our regions. He's very clear: getting to net zero should be about technology, not taxes and higher electricity prices. We are getting on with the job—just look at our record. Emissions fell by three per cent in the year to June 2020 to their lowest level since 1998, meaning we are now nearly 17 per cent below 2005 levels. This compares to reductions of approximately nine per cent on average across the OECD, one per cent in New Zealand and less than one per cent in Canada. Labor and the Greens don't like to hear the truth, but these are the facts.

Under the leadership of Minister Taylor, our $18 billion technology investment road map gets underway this year. There is a $1.9 billion commitment to develop clean energy technologies, such as hydrogen, green steel and carbon capture and storage. We're pursuing global partnerships with countries including Japan, the United States, the UK, Korea and Singapore. Our multibillion dollar energy and emissions reduction agreement with New South Wales is being implemented, and we hope other states will follow. Agreements are in place to accelerate major transmission projects in New South Wales and Tasmania, with Victoria and South Australia to follow this year. The government is building Snowy 2.0 and we're rolling out our $200 million program to build new diesel storage facilities. Of course, one of the great recipients of our fuel production payment and our fuel security package is the Geelong Refinery and its 700 workers. I was absolutely delighted to join with Minister Taylor in making an announcement about the bringing forward of the fuel production payment in Geelong in December last year.

The Clean Energy Regulator estimates that a record seven gigawatts of new renewable capacity was installed last year. These are the facts. This is 11 per cent higher than the previous record set in 2019 at 6.3 gigawatts. This represents more than the entire renewable capacity installed under the previous Labor government, which was 5.6 gigawatts from December 2007 to September 2013. These are the facts.

A solar installation boom drove this new record, despite COVID-19 restrictions which impacted rooftop solar installation rates for part of the year. We have a great story to tell here in Australia. One in four Australian homes have solar, which is the highest uptake of household solar in the world. This all helps to reduce household energy bills and reduce emissions. Over the last quarter of 2020, the share of renewables in the National Electricity Market exceeded 30 per cent. In 2020, a record 53.6 terawatt-hours of electricity was generated from renewables, including rooftop solar, in the National Electricity Market. This is a whopping 16 per cent higher than the previous record set in 2019.

The bottom line is we are on track to meet and beat our targets: the Kyoto targets by 459 million tonnes along with the 2030 Paris target, which has improved over the last two years by 639 million tonnes. This is the equivalent of removing 14.7 million cars off the road not for one year but for 15 years.

The Morrison government is delivering on emissions reduction while Labor dithers as to how to do it. Labor is fighting internally and Australians have worked out that they have completely lost the plot when it comes to tackling climate action and climate change. Labor doesn't know what its 2030 target looks like. They don't know how much it will cost or how it will be achieved. Only the Morrison government will achieve the outcomes that we need and this country needs to reduce our emissions and, at the same, time protect our industries and our jobs. We are taking real and practical action. I've talked about, in this contribution, some of the very important results that we are delivering to protect our economy, to protect jobs, to drive record renewable investments and to see one in four Australian homes take up solar, but to do so in a way which takes Australia forward. I am incredibly proud of the work of this government. I am incredibly proud of the leadership of our Prime Minister to drive down emissions and to take strong action on climate change whilst protecting our jobs and our industries.

5:15 pm

Photo of Jess WalshJess Walsh (Victoria, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

This government's climate policies are an absolute mess. They are an international embarrassment. They are irresponsible and, as a result, all of us are missing out on the opportunity to create good clean-energy jobs—jobs that Australians desperately need right now. Australia is being left behind. The rest of the world is moving forward while Prime Minister Scott Morrison drags his feet.

There is real global consensus on climate change. I'm not just talking about the Biden administration in the US, which will take climate change action and emissions reductions seriously. It's the US and it's also Canada, Germany, France, New Zealand—all of our major allies and all of our major partners around the world. Right here at home it's the Business Council, the Australian Industry Group and the Property Council. It's our largest airline. It's our biggest mining company. It's our biggest bank and our biggest telecommunications provider. It's a long list of leading businesses, organisations and not-for-profits who have made commitments to taking action on climate. Today the only people missing are the Morrison government. Scott Morrison is absolutely isolated on this issue.

In Labor, on the other hand, we are confident and positive about our future. We know that we can reach a better future together and, really, everyone else agrees. So we need the Morrison government to make a plan for climate action now.

In just the past eight years, this Liberal-National government has had 22 energy policies. And what has this led to? It's led to absolute chaos. It's led to higher electricity prices and higher emissions. This isn't even the worst of their inaction. According to an independent report from Deloitte Access Economics, the Prime Minister's refusal to take action could crush trade. It could crush tourism, mining and service industries. That report suggests that the government's inaction and refusal to adopt zero emissions by 2050 will devastate our economy. That inaction could cost up to 880,000 jobs and could slash $3.4 trillion from GDP by 2070. But, if the government actually took action and delivered net zero emissions by 2050, the report predicts it would create 250,000 jobs.

We have just experienced our deepest recession in almost 100 years. We know that over two million Australians are still out of work or can't get enough hours. They are screaming out for a jobs plan from this government, and action on climate change delivers jobs. It delivers lower power bills. It grows the economy. It delivers higher wages. And so right now is the time to take that action.

Scott Morrison can no longer pretend that he is taking action on climate change, and Australians need real climate action or we will all be left paying the price. We have to hit net zero carbon pollution by 2050. The world is decarbonising, and we need to make sure that Australia doesn't get left behind. We need to make sure that we take full advantage of the opportunities that this presents to a country like ours. With the right plan and with the right vision, Australia can be a clean-energy superpower with a new generation of jobs and cheaper power bills. We have some of the best wind and wave resources in the world. We have the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any continent. We have some of the best engineers and scientists in the world to take advantage of this.

Working towards a low-carbon future means opportunities for our manufacturing sectors. It means opportunities for energy exports. It means opportunities for rare earth minerals mining. It means opportunities for good, secure clean-energy jobs. Take, for example, our plan to rewire the nation. The current energy network takes no account of the rise of renewables. It was designed for another time. This is why a Labor government would take action to rebuild and modernise the national energy grid. Rebuilding the grid will itself create thousands of jobs, particularly in regional Australia. It will deliver up to $40 billion in benefits. This just makes sense.

Labor governments get things done. For example, last year the Victorian government announced that the Southern Hemisphere's biggest battery is to be built just outside of Geelong. This project will create good jobs. It will drive down electricity prices, it will boost reliability, it will help support Victoria's transition to renewable energy and it will be good for the economy as well. Independent analysis shows that every dollar invested in this 300 megawatt battery will deliver more than $2 in benefits to Victorian households and businesses.

In addition to the big projects, the Victorian government is also helping local businesses and communities access clean energy. Recently they delivered grants across the state to fund projects like community solar farms and batteries and solar electricity systems for sports clubs. Victoria is on track to hit its renewable energy targets and it's embracing new technologies and investing in renewables. It's not just Victoria. Every state and territory is on board, so the Morrison government needs to take action now.

5:22 pm

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to take you back to the first day of parliament last year. When all of us members of parliament arrived in Canberra it was shrouded in smoke. The bushfires were raging from last summer's Black Summer. We know that when the fires were finally out we had 33 people who had died in those fires. An estimate is that 445 people died from smoke inhalation from those fires. We had thousands of people's livelihoods and their homes affected, homes which are still being rebuilt. They were the worst fires ever in Australia's history. Twenty per cent of our mainland forest was burnt and over three billion animals were killed.

Those of us who had been seeing our hotter, dryer climate, resulting in the weather conditions that we experienced last summer, thought what devastation, but maybe seeing these fires occur finally as a country we would listen to the science, we would recognise that, yes, this is a climate crisis, that we need to take action, that we need to act on reducing our carbon pollution in accordance with what the science says.

The science is very clear and it was reiterated last week by the Climate Targets Panel. It says if we are going to meet our Paris target globally, of keeping global heating to below two degrees, that we need to have at least a 50 per cent cut in carbon pollution by 2030. If we want to keep global heating below 1½ degrees we need a greater than 75 per cent cut in our carbon pollution by 2030.

The science is so clear, but we have a government and we have a Labor Party that are still in absolute denial, because delay in acting on our climate crisis is denial. If you are serious about acting on our climate crisis we need that urgent action now to get those cuts of at least half of our carbon pollution, if not three-quarters, in the next decade. That means getting out of coal and gas and oil. That means transitioning completely to a clean energy economy.

I've heard the contributions from both sides talking up renewables. Renewables are great and we need them, and all of this technology is terrific, but it is not going to amount to a hill of beans unless we also get out of coal, gas and oil, both domestically and in our export markets. We need to get the coal, gas and oil industries—those big industry barons who are currently determining what's in the climate and energy policies of both the government and the Labor Party—out of that role. We need to be listening to the science, listening to the people and taking action which is consistent with the science in order to keep people safe. Just as people were concerned about keeping people safe in last summer's fires, we need zero carbon. We need action urgently to keep people safe.

5:25 pm

Photo of Tim AyresTim Ayres (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I have listened to the debate carefully and read the resolution, and what a choice: either support the Greens party's resolution or hang out with the troglodytes in the government on these questions. It's not a happy choice. We are entitled, I think, in the Labor Party to approach Greens resolutions on climate change with a little bit of scepticism. This year will be the 11th or 12th—I've lost count—anniversary of the Greens political party voting with the Liberals on the CPRS. Imagine what a world we would be living in today in Australia! We would have lower emissions in the country. We would have had much less carbon emitted into the atmosphere. We would have had consistently lower, stable power prices because there would have been an energy investment framework that would have allowed the private sector and government to work together to deliver a cleaner energy mix. There would have been more jobs—better jobs—in the Australian economy, particularly in the regions. We would have continued to export coal to global markets at the same time, as Australia wouldn't have been internationally isolated, going backwards economically and bleeding jobs, particularly in our regional towns.

But I don't want to spend too much time on the Greens political party today. I want to spend a little bit more time on the government. I listened to Senator Henderson's contribution very, very carefully. It reminded me that where the government's front is at the moment—what they say on climate change—is a little bit like what Saint Augustine had to say about chastity: 'We're all for it—just not yet.'

There are three kinds of politician in the Liberal and National Party on these questions. There's the front, which is what we saw from Senator Henderson—the modern Liberals, the mealy-mouthed apologists in craven capitulation to the government's backbench. We saw the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Birmingham, in question time. It was a revolting display of quivering, craven capitulation to the backbench on the one hand but wanting to present to the Australian community as if there was some real action on climate change and energy policy on the other.

The second group is the hard Right in the Liberal and National Party. They try and keep their views in the shadows as much as possible, apart from when the now Prime Minister bursts out on the floor of the parliament with a big lump of coal and waves it around. It was carefully varnished so none of the coal dust would dirty his beautiful white shirt, a luxury that most of the workers who Senator Canavan cosplay dresses as when he puts his high-vis on don't have. You have the hard Right, such as Senator Canavan, who will say that he supports coal workers in regional Queensland on the one hand but apparently wants to decouple the Australian economy from the Chinese economy on the other. He's for jobs on the one hand and not for jobs on the other. He's all for mining workers in the iron ore industry, but he wants to introduce an export levy on Australian iron ore exports. He says he's for manufacturing, but he released and led the maddest manufacturing plan that any political party has released, which, if ever adopted by the government, would push up power prices and drive tens of thousands of Australian jobs offshore. Then you've got the third group: the fruit loops, the climate science deniers. There's a common thread with this group. They're not big on climate science, and they're not particularly big on coronavirus and public epidemiology science either. You've got Mr Kelly hanging out with Pete Evans and all of the other fruit loops in the social media world—who want to tell Australians that they should not take the vaccine, sending a dangerous message—and hanging out with all of the QAnon conspiracy theorists. That group is such a big group on the coalition backbench, and that's the reason why the government has had more than 20 energy policies over the course of the eight unhappy years that this government has been in office.

There is a strong alternative. The Labor Party represents a strong alternative on these issues. Chris Bowen said late last week that climate policy is jobs policy and energy policy is jobs policy. In government, we would have very simple objectives: driving down the price of electricity and energy; delivering more good jobs in our suburbs and our regions; delivering a cleaner environment and lower emissions; and continuing to try and drive a position where we've got good jobs, a future in our regions and our country towns, and Australia once again rejoins the international community on these questions and delivers real positive change on the question of climate.

5:31 pm

Photo of Mehreen FaruqiMehreen Faruqi (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

This morning the people's climate rally came to the lawns of Parliament House. They came to the people's house today to make sure that politicians are confronted with the reality of the climate crisis at the start of the parliamentary year, because they know that two centuries of colonisation have undone the millennia of management and care of country by First Nations people.

For us, it's the love of this planet and its people that drives our action on climate. But our rage has to match our love: rage at the harm being done by the climate crisis to communities across the global south and right here; rage at the big corporations and politicians who put profit ahead of people; and rage at the Liberals and Labor, who have taken millions of dollars in donations from coal and gas corporations. While the world is taking action to address the climate emergency, Scott Morrison and Rupert Murdoch have parked Australia in a historical cul-de-sac. They have made Australia a pariah of the world.

Last summer, we saw fires savage and ravage large parts of our country. We saw drought along the Murray-Darling, and there were weeks when smoke and ash choked our cities. This summer, we saw more of the same—from major flooding and rain battering New South Wales coasts to heatwaves and fires in Perth. Burning coal, oil and gas is making extreme weather more intense and more frequent. The world's current greenhouse gas emissions reduction promises are not enough to limit global warming to below two degrees C. We must cut pollution rapidly. The window to do this is open until 2030, not 2050. That's why the Greens want to make sure that global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees and our target is a 75 per cent emissions reduction by 2030.

We say no to a gas lit recovery because that's no recovery at all. We demand climate justice. We know that there is no justice in a transition to a post-carbon economy that leaves control of green industries in the hands of big corporations. The rampant planet-abusing consumption and extraction of resources by giant corporations and governments who are captured by these polluting interests have brought us to the place we're at today, a climate emergency. Frankly, we know there is no hope for true climate justice in a capitalist, profit-driven society like ours. We cannot address the climate crisis and achieve justice without changing the economic system that demands constant extraction. We will show that people matter. Together our power, the power of the people, is much greater than that of the conservative politicians that sit here, the media barons that are out there and the rabid corporations who are just full of greed.

5:35 pm

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Just before I rolled in here, I got off the phone with a mate of mine in the eastern suburbs of Perth. He said to me, 'Jordon, there's ash fallen over the house.' None of us here can imagine what it is like to be in that situation. None of us can imagine it. We're in this place; it's air conditioned. We're all safe. It's fine. Meanwhile, right now, people are losing their homes. We don't know—they could be fighting for their lives. We know that at least 30 homes have been lost—probably more. We know that families will be bunking with each other, having packed everything in the car and gotten out of there as quickly as they could. They will now be confronting the beginnings of a truth that their lives have changed forever, that they will never quite be the same again.

As they begin that understanding, that reconciliation with the truth, that realisation, the major parties in this place should be confronting truths of their own: the truth that climate is making these events worse; the truth that the burning of coal, oil and gas is the largest contributor to global heating; and the truth that the policies of Australian governments, Liberal and Labor alike, have done nothing but make the situation worse, have done nothing but burn more of these chemicals, have done nothing but block global action.

They may well look to this place for that truth, but they will not find it. They will not find it among the Labor and Liberal parties here today. Why? Because both sides of parliament take money from the polluters—from the Chevrons and the Woodsides, from the Clive Palmers and the Gina Rineharts. This place, on the question of climate, is bought and paid for by the big end of town, which is making money off a climate crisis. So it is only the Greens, at moments like these, that are willing to state the truth: that climate change is putting lives at risk; that coal, oil and gas are driving it; and that it is possible to stop it with government action—rapid action which we must take now.

5:38 pm

Photo of Nick McKimNick McKim (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Well, if you haven't got a 2030 emissions reduction target in line with the climate science, you might as well line up with the climate change deniers. I will point out that neither of the major parties—neither the coalition nor the ALP in this place—have got a 2030 target in line with the climate science. In fact, Labor doesn't even have a 2030 target at all. Why is that? Why do both the major parties fail to put in place policies in line with what the science is telling us? Because they are corrupted by the dirty donations they take from the fossil fuel industries.

We know, because the donations data came out yesterday, that over $1 million combined of dirty money from the fossil fuel corporations flowed into the pockets of the major parties in this place. What do they get for it?

They get to write things like 'a gas led recovery'—supported by both the major parties in this place—where they're not only backing in new gas developments and new fossil fuel developments but they want to throw public subsidies at them. It is a corruption of our democracy, and it is exposing the Australian people to massive risk and exposing some of them to a massive risk to their lives.

Look reality in the eye. The feedback loops are kicking in. The tipping points are upon us. We've got to stop logging, stop land clearing and plant more trees. There must be no new fossil fuels, and we must rapidly transition out of the fossil fuel industry. We've got to invest in our communities, invest in renewables, invest in reforestation and invest in electrifying our transport networks. We've got to create jobs and prosperity and give our people safer lives. (Time expired)

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the motion moved by Senator Waters at the request of Senator Rice be agreed to.