PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS (Federation Chamber): Climate Change

22 March 2021

What we have here is a classic case of Morrison government spin—a beautifully worded statement that is just dripping in spin over substance. It's the motion equivalent of a photo op and no follow-through. And who better to bring it to us than the member for Goldstein, who has left the room. It's good to hear that he cares about climate change. But what good is caring about climate change if you have a government that is not going to do anything about it? Let's tell the people the truth: the only climate change policy this government has is one of neglect, inaction and denial.

The first line of the motion says:

… the Government is taking real and practical action to reduce emissions while protecting our economy, jobs and investment.

Oh my goodness! Every man and his dog are crying out for a coherent energy policy which allows for real investment in key industry and jobs. We've had 22 energy policies under this government. It's no wonder there's such limited investment in energy generation. Why would you invest, when the policy keeps chopping and changing?

As Renew Economy reported last week, a new survey has found that big global investors say they want to invest $1 trillion in renewable energy over the next decade but that they are scared off from investing in Australia, because policy chaos makes it impossible to predict future returns. Can you imagine what a trillion-dollar investment would do for our country? The jobs, the jobs, the jobs; the multiplier effect for businesses, for apprenticeships and for actual emissions reductions, not the fanciful rubbish being put forward here.

Australia is now an international pariah for lack of action on climate change. Around the world, 120 countries have a target of net zero by 2050. It's legislated in the United Kingdom, with a Tory government; in France, with a centre-right government; in Germany, with a conservative government; and in New Zealand with, well, Jacinda Ardern—she's wonderful! But this government thinks it doesn't need to do that. On the climate change performance index, Australia ranks 54th out of 61 countries for climate action and policy; that's just ahead of Kazakhstan and just behind Russia.

As I said, every man and his dog, from the BCA to the National Farmers Federation, have backed net zero by 2050. They know it drives investment and will create thousands of jobs. But, without coherent climate and energy policy, all this government has done is drive down investment and stymie opportunity to revolutionise manufacturing and traditional industries right across our suburbs and regions. Climate change policy and energy policy is the key to getting green manufacturing, sustainable manufacturing, going across our suburbs and regions, building jobs. Just saying, 'It's technology and stuff' won't cut it. We need specific action. We need real action. We need real policies.

The claim being put forward by this motion is:

(b) updated forecasts show Australia is on track to meet and beat its 2030 Paris target—

For this, I've got to turn to a fantastic article which just rips the government report to shreds. To quote Adam Morton:

The first thing to stress here is in the title—these are only projections. The report tells us what we might expect to happen under current policy settings. It is frankly weird the primacy projections have been given in public debate, given what matters is actual cuts.

… … …

In terms of the actual numbers, the bottom line is that—at a time when other countries are announcing increasingly ambitious targets—the government expects national emissions to fall by only 6.8% this decade—

Well, targets can be met if they're crap targets! But, as Mr Morton says—

That projected drop is almost entirely due to a surge in electricity production from wind and solar that the Morrison government has tried to slow, not accelerate. In most other areas of the economy the projections suggest there will be no change in emissions over the next decade—despite what the member for Goldstein was just carrying on about. So get real!

The fact is: when Labor was in government over a six-year period, emissions reduced by 15 per cent. The coalition has been in government over a six-year period, and emissions have reduced by one per cent. Stop taking credit where it's not due. You need to tell Australians what you intend to do to make sure we play our part in reducing emissions, because, frankly, catastrophic climate change is a problem that needs to be seriously addressed.