Speeches

Climate Change Bill 2022

August 03, 2022

I was elected in November 2007 on a policy of responding to dangerous climate change. Way back then in the Dark Ages it was actually a joint ticket with my Liberal opponent, a former minister. Then after that a wrecking ball called Tony Abbott weaponised sensible policy. For short-term political expediency he weaponised any response to the loud scientific warnings. Since that day of infamy when Tony Abbott became the Leader of the Liberal Party in December 2009, when the then member for Warringah weaponised saving this planet, I have despaired about this building actually responding to dangerous climate change.

For the last nine years I have stood up in parliament and talked about the need for urgent action while the dilettantes and grifters opposite tried 22 different versions of sweet, sweet nothing. While they fiddled our homes burned. While they fiddled our homes have flooded. We've have been hammered by the elements in all the ways that the climate scientists warned us about. There is more frequent flooding. There are higher and erosive tides, and more harsh and destructive bushfires to come. That is what the CSIRO tells us. I am not a scientist. I listen to the CSIRO.

Sensible Australians have contacted their federal members and senators right across the country urging the parliament to act on addressing dangerous climate change. I was here when the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme—the CPRS—was passed in the House of Representatives. I remember Malcolm Turnbull actually sitting with the Labor party for that vote. Then I went over to that other chamber to watch the coalition and the Greens combine to vote down the CPRS. I also witnessed—right up in that part of the chamber—a little coven of government members, including the now Leader of the Opposition, hugging and cheering when the coalition withdrew Labor's carbon-pricing scheme.

Australians have been on a very long journey to get us to where this chamber is today. These bills will enshrine the nation's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and to get us to net zero by 2050. Labor's commitment will become law.

What rot we've heard from some of those opposite. The previous speaker, the member for Forde, couldn't even say the name of the bill in front of him. Then we had the member for Flynn—oh my goodness! His approach to science was antediluvian—unbelievable. I'm not sure what niche clientele he's trying to address, but it's unbelievable. If he is the hope of the Liberal National Party, then heaven help the Liberal National Party in Queensland. Oh my goodness! I couldn't believe that he would be so backward looking and so unscientific.

I see the member for New England about to speak. I'm sure he'll make a sterling contribution! If the choice is listening to the voice of Boyce or Joyce, there's no choice at all, as far as I'm concerned. Labor knows that legislating targets provides the strongest possible signal to industry and investors. We know that because we saw what happened when those scoundrels were dancing and celebrating taking back Labor's scheme. Private investment in renewable energy fell off a cliff. We'd been one of the world leaders of private capital flocking to invest in infrastructure—like wind farms up around Armidale, around Glen Innes, great pieces of infrastructure that I know are powering my sister's home in the member for New England's electorate right now. We know that legislating targets will give a great signal to private investment and private capital. It will also help to restore our nation's international reputation, giving us the opportunity to capitalise on the opportunities arising from global climate action.

And we are the Labor Party, so what do we care about? Labour, jobs. We know that this will mean jobs. Labor took a 43 per cent target to the election as a minimum commitment. We built consensus across industry, environmental groups, farmers, business et cetera, to give certainty to all of them. A 2030 target of 43 per cent has received the support of the Australian Industry Group—well-known communist clientele, obviously; the Business Council of Australia—obviously a mob of lefties; the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry—sounds like an offshoot of the Socialist Party; the Clean Energy Council; the Australian Conservation Foundation; the Australian Council of Trade Unions; and the National Farmers Federation. Our commitment to reduce emissions to 43 per cent below 2005 by 2030 is part of a credible pathway to net zero.

Labor's Climate Change Bill has four elements. It enshrines in law the nationally determined contribution of 43 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050. It gives the Climate Change Authority the job of assessing and publishing progress against these targets, as well as advising government on future targets, including the 2035 target. It provides accountability, by making it a requirement for the minister for climate change to report annually to parliament on the progress in meeting our targets. And it inserts the nation's targets in the objectives and functions of a range of government agencies, including the mighty ARENA, CEFC, Infrastructure Australia and the NAIF.

It's important that there is transparency in our actions. Much as with the Closing the gap report, the annual address to parliament by the climate change minister is about updating the parliament and the nation on the progress we're making to meet our climate goals. We're here at this very important moment in time when we can get Australia back on track, get real action underway and provide certainty on Australia's low-carbon future.

After the election I received hundreds of emails of congratulations, and the consistent theme was that people were relieved that finally Australia had a government that understands climate change is real, a government determined to reduce our emissions by boosting renewable energy. Just recently, in a survey of young people in my electorate, over 90 per cent of respondents said that voting for a party with a climate change policy was the major factor in determining how they voted in 2022. But, more than that, addressing climate and moving to renewables were the defining issues shared across so many different groups in my electorate.

Labor's Powering Australia plan that we took to the election is a plan to secure our nation's future, to maximise the benefits of new technology—cheap energy, new job opportunities and cheaper, low-emissions vehicles. Our Powering Australia plan also includes a number of other policies that will boost the renewable energy sector and accelerate and support regions at the front of the energy industry. There will be a lot of jobs for the bush. It's good to see that the Labor Party is continuing its fine tradition of looking after the bush. We delivered all those great policies for the bush, like education, Medicare and NBN. They are great things for the bush. Labor delivers for the bush; the National Party have given up on the bush. They've given up on the bush—

The $20 billion Rewiring the Nation investment will modernise the grid and provide the country with more renewables, more transmission and more storage. Any facility that emits over 100,000 tonnes of emissions will be included in the safeguard mechanism, which is a little like that trade-exposed industries mechanism in the old CPRS. The safeguard mechanism reforms will work with big emitters on a trajectory to net zero by 2050. We've got to be sensible and get the trajectory right. Large listed companies and financial institutions have been calling for mandatory climate disclosure standards and will need to disclose their emissions under new standards, ensuring investors have all the information they need to make sustainable investment decisions. This government aims to tackle climate change from all sides, reducing greenhouse gas emissions overall, creating new jobs in the renewable energy sector and ensuring fair support and protections for workers transitioning out of fossil fuel industries.

My electorate has been subject to devastating floods—back in 2011 and again in February this year. These floods hit my community hard. I know that the people of Moreton are resilient. I know they're rebuilding their homes and their lives, but it's tough. It's challenging. And people are very, very tired. They're tired of inaction when it comes to responding to climate change, so I hear their anguish. We know that we're going to face more frequent and more severe disasters because of climate change. That is what the CSIRO tells us. This is the reality, and individuals can only do so much, but that is not a reason to do nothing, which seems to be the argument proselytised by those opposite, particularly the member for Flynn. I know that those opposite have indicated they will not support our climate change legislation, although it was great to hear one of them say that they would be backing it tonight. That was someone who actually got an increased margin in the recent election. I can't understand, when your party loses the election, why you would do that.

A BETTER FUTURE