ADJOURNMENT: Climate Change

22 October 2018

I rise today to speak on the disaster that is this government's climate change policy. While the rest of the world has accepted that we are experiencing a climate emergency, including those in the electorate of Wentworth, it's clear that this is not a priority for the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government. Those who sit opposite are collectively burying their heads in the sand, with no desire or political courage to start to repair the damage that global warming is inflicting on our planet.

Just two weeks ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a multinational panel comprised of the world's top climate and environmental scientists, released a report on the impacts of global warming. The report calls for drastic action to reverse global warming. It warns of current and further damage to coral reefs and warns there will be more extreme hot days and more extreme droughts. The IPCC also warns of the consequences of climate related risks to our health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security and, of course, economic growth. This change will disproportionately affect people living in the developing world and the Pacific. The IPCC is not some radical body. International bodies like the IPCC are, by their nature, more likely to be conservative because of the consensus required from a vastly diverse membership—and still the warnings are stark. The earth is already too hot, and urgent action is required now if we are going to even begin to mitigate the already devastating effects of climate change.

And what was our government's response? It was to dismiss it entirely. The Prime Minister just called this 'some sort of report. The responsible minister referred to it as 'just an opinion'. When the former Prime Minister, the former member for Wentworth, who was once strident in his belief in combating climate change, delivered his budget this year, there was zero dollars to combat climate change and address the climate emergency-zero dollars. Their lack of will to act on climate change demonstrates their complete disregard for the future of our planet, for our people and for our neighbours. They place all Australians at risk of serious climate events growing irreversibly disastrous. On this issue they are reckless. Even the IPCC report places our earth on a disastrous trajectory towards irreversible temperature rises, drought and natural disasters. We need a whole-of-economy response and we need to start now.

Many countries are stepping up to the plate, but Australia has fallen behind the rest of the world as our international counterparts move their economies into renewable energy and a more sustainable future. This doesn't happen magically. It requires leadership and a plan—a plan that will reverse global warming as fast as possible, start cooling the planet and start protecting our environment. The government, sadly, has no plan. With certainty instead of chaos, we could be encouraging clean energy production, sustainable industries, and investment in jobs and the growing renewable economy. We could be taking measures to cool the rising temperatures and stop further rises. We could be preparing affected communities for a just transition.

Labor have a plan to tackle climate change, to transition our economy, and to support communities and our environments. We will ensure that no worker is left behind, ensuring a just transition for Australian communities that rely on polluting industries. Our plan is comprehensive, it's ambitious and it's achievable. Our plan is to act immediately. We must tackle the complexities of climate change and give policy certainty to clean energy investors craving opportunities to set up in Australia. Only a party that can form government and appreciate complexity will be able to build a policy framework that foresees the future for vulnerable industries, with expert analysis, time lines and dedicated financial resources. I know this will be a priority for Labor if we have the opportunity to form government. Labor's targets for renewables and emissions cuts are not absolute; they are targets and, with fast action, could be surpassed.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful climate activists in my electorate of Batman, soon to be Cooper. They work so hard to keep the truth alive and to keep the emergency foremost, to call for fast political change and to save the future for all of us. I say thanks to the groups who care for our creeks, the #StopAdani activists, the forestry groups, our Future of Waste teams, our solar campaigners, the local Climate and Health Alliance folk, DCAN and everyone who cares enough to help me. I'd particularly like to acknowledge Jane Morton, along with Helen Kwiecien, Susan Dwyer, Amaryll Perlesz, Libby Muir and Katherine Barraclough. Your work is absolutely vital to this very important issue.