Senate debates

Tuesday, 19 October 2021


Climate Change

12:01 pm

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

I seek leave to move a motion in relation to a target for emissions reduction as just circulated in the chamber.

Leave not granted.

Pursuant to contingent notice standing in my name, I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent me from moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter—namely, a motion to provide that a motion relating to a target for emissions reduction be moved immediately, determined without amendment and take precedence over all other business for 30 minutes.

This is a matter of urgency and that's exactly why we need to suspend standing orders today to deliberate this, because this is the last chance parliamentarians will get to debate before the Prime Minister goes to Glasgow and embarrasses our entire nation and isolates us on the world stage with his climate-denying big-fat-zero offer for 2030. Forget all the stage-managed theatre about 2050 targets; 2030 targets are the price of admission to the Glasgow climate summit, and Mr Scott Morrison has given in to Mr Barnaby Joyce on 2030 targets.

The Prime Minister is going to Glasgow with empty hands, offering nothing for the summit's purpose of increasing our 2030 pollution targets, but he will bring home a gift from our trading partners—carbon tariffs on our exports. The EU ambassador is reported today as saying that the world is running out of time on climate action, that the EU is running out of patience with Australia, which is out of step with the rest of the world, and that the EU intends to put a carbon tariff on high-emitting imports on countries not doing enough. Well, when the EU and other countries put a carbon tariff on our exports, what do you think that is? It is a carbon tax. But, instead of Australia collecting this revenue and reinvesting it back into society, our trading partners overseas will collect it. Mr Scott Morrison not lifting 2030 ambition means that Australian exporters will pay a tax collected overseas, while the cost of capital for Australian businesses will increase. We are becoming a riskier place to invest in.

To drive investment and innovation in Australia, we have to set an ambitious target based on the science. That means a target of at least 74 per cent below 2005 by 2030. It's not just the Greens saying this; it's the independent scientists, the climate science experts. It's the climate target panel's recommendation. That would triple the wholly inadequate target that Mr Tony Abbott committed Australia to last time and what the Prime Minister, extorted by the National Party, seems determined to stick with. That strong 2030 target of a 74 or 75 per cent reduction is ambitious but it's achievable and it will be good for farmers, who can make money from abating carbon. It will be good for jobs. It will be good for energy prices. It will be good for manufacturing and shipping. It will be good for everyone except the coal and gas industries and the political parties that they donate to.

Commitments for 2050 mean a big fat zero; 2030 is the year that matters, and climate scientists have told us clearly that we need to halve global pollution by the end of the decade or we risk losing control of climate change. Once the genie of chain reactions and feedback loops is let out of the bottle, we can't put it back in. Without strong 2030 targets 2050 does not matter, it is too late: 2050 is a slogan—it's a mirage—while we do nothing except expand coal and gas exports, which the government and the opposition are encouraging. We have the Beetaloo, Adani and Scarborough gas fields, the Barossa gas field and the two new coal mines that Minister Ley approved last week. The International Energy Agency has said that to reach net zero by 2050 not one new coal, oil or gas project should proceed. But the department of industry currently has 72 new coal projects and 44 new gas projects proceeding, and this government is throwing even more money at its fossil fuel mates to make it happen. Delay is the new denial, and if they don't have a plan for coal and gas then they don't have a plan for the climate.

This is exactly why we need to suspend standing orders to talk about this today, because our nation's climate policy is being stitched up behind closed doors by a party that gets five per cent of the national vote, with no ability for parliamentarians to input into the setting of that target. And there's no ability for the science to see the light of day and to permeate the veil of corporate donations from the coal and gas companies that is so shrouding the eyes of this current government. It is exactly why we need to debate this urgent matter. The EU is warning us that it will put a tariff on our exports. Surely this government will listen to the money, if it won't listen to the science?

The Australian people are fed up with this government just doing the bidding of the big coal, oil and gas companies. They know what is at stake. They know that the future of our Murray-Darling, our Great Barrier Reef and our agriculture is at stake. It's time to listen to the science and time to debate a strong 2030 target. (Time expired)

12:07 pm

Photo of Murray WattMurray Watt (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Northern Australia) Share this | | Hansard source

I will just speak briefly to put the Labor position on this motion—a motion which we found out about about 10 minutes ago.

Photo of Matthew CanavanMatthew Canavan (Queensland, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

You've had years to come up with your climate policy!

Photo of Murray WattMurray Watt (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Northern Australia) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Canavan, my friend, you've had eight years to work out your position and I know that you're still trying to work out if you're back to being Marxist Matt, or KPMG Matt or Productivity Commission Matt. Labor will be supporting the suspension of standing orders because we do think that it is an important time to debate climate change policy in this country. However, we will be opposing the Greens motion, which as I say, we have just been handed a copy of. The motion does not reflect Labor's position when it comes to mid-term targets. We have been very clear all along that we will be releasing our position on mid-term targets after the Glasgow conference, once we have a clear idea of what the rules of the road are for the world on this matter. So we won't be supporting a Greens motion which seeks to set a particular mid-term target at this point in time.

I might say that it is disappointing, at a moment when there is broad community support for serious action on climate change—including net zero emissions by 2050—that, rather than focusing on the government, the Greens have put up a motion which they know will divide non-government parties. So, yet again, we see the Greens more interested in stunts and wedges rather than actually working together against the government, which is seeking to take us backwards.

12:09 pm

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Families and Social Services) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the question be now put.

Photo of Slade BrockmanSlade Brockman (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the question be put.

12:24 pm

Photo of Slade BrockmanSlade Brockman (WA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the motion moved by Senator Waters to suspend standing orders be agreed to.