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Wednesday, 11 October 2006
Page: 180

Ms KATE ELLIS (9:48 AM) —I rise today to once again talk about the critical issue of climate change and to place on the record my disgust at the Howard government’s lack of action on this issue. I bring this issue to the attention of the House once again because during the course of the break in the parliamentary sittings I began a series of screenings of the documentary An Inconvenient Truth for the residents of Adelaide to come and see some of the startling facts. I have been inundated with feedback from these residents, who have been shocked, outraged and horrified by the extent of this issue and disgusted at the way that the Howard government continues to sit on the sidelines rather than show some leadership on the issue.

They and I are not alone in having these concerns. In the past fortnight alone significant research into the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions has been published indicating once again the desperate need for this government to act. On Monday a CSIRO report documented the consequences in our region of a two-degree increase in temperatures by 2030, which it argued would result in the mass exodus of millions of Pacific islanders, many of whom would look to Australia for refuge. Last week the Lowy Institute released a poll showing that climate change is now perceived by Australians as a critical threat.

Australia’s farming community this fortnight joined the calls for action, with Australian farmers putting $10 million towards the establishment of the Climate Institute, which in turn is funding an advertising campaign to make climate change an election issue. It seems we are all agreed—all except the Howard government, that is, which has for years persisted with the ‘don’t know’ line on climate change. The government recently dismissed research in the highly acclaimed documentary An Inconvenient Truth as ‘mere entertainment’ and our Prime Minister explained that he remains sceptical about the more gloomy predictions on global warming.

For the benefit of this government I will place on record the realities of the environmental situation we face. Between 1990 and 2004 emissions rose in Australia by 25.1 per cent—once you exclude the progressive decisions of the New South Wales and Queensland governments on land clearing. We remain one of only two developed nations who have not ratified the Kyoto protocol and Australia currently has no national climate change action plan, no timelines, and no targets to reduce greenhouse pollution in any meaningful way. I am outraged by this because we have all of the facts on the table about climate change.

Thankfully, in my state the state Labor government has shown tremendous leadership on the issue and in 2003 commissioned a report to look at exactly how South Australia would be impacted if CO emissions were to continue to rise at the current rate. It makes particularly grim reading. I have brought this topic up in this parliament before and I will continue to do so until such time as the Howard government takes the issue seriously. (Time expired)