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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6825

Mr KELVIN THOMSON (Wills) (13:03): In stark contrast to the previous speaker, I want to congratulate the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and the Australian Conservation Foundation for their tremendous energy and commitment to the future of our beautiful, unique and fragile world. Today the Australian Conservation Foundation is delivering a petition to members of parliament with the signatures of over 34,000 Australians, asking us not to drop the ball on climate change. Led by ACF climate change campaigner Abigail Jabines and community delegates around Australia, such as Victoria's Caroline Ingvarson, the petition calls on all members of parliament to protect Australia's climate laws and to vote against the repeal of our climate legislation.

I have also brought to parliament a safe climate road map prepared by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and endorsed by many young members of my electorate. A number of them came to my electorate office and urged me to support a strong renewable energy target. Indeed, it is absolutely scandalous that the Liberal Party could deceive the renewable energy industry and voters about its intentions concerning the renewable energy target the way it did last year. Environment Minister Hunt said on 27 February 2013:

We will be keeping the Renewable Energy Target. We have made that commitment. We have no plans or proposals to change it. We have no plans or intentions for change and we have offered bipartisan support to that, and we will maintain bipartisan support towards the 20 per cent target.

I repeat:

We will maintain bipartisan support towards the 20 per cent target.

Later, on 19 June, he said:

We agree on the national targets to reduce our emissions by five per cent by 2020. We also agree on the Renewable Energy Target and one of the things we do not want to do is to become a party where there's this wild sovereign risk where businesses take steps to their detriment on the basis of a pledge and a policy of government, and we are very clear that that is not where we want to be.

Good grief. If you ever wanted an Exhibit A of wild sovereign risk, it would be this government's treatment of the renewable energy industry. There was a time when ministers and shadow ministers would resign if their credibility had been damaged by things they had said or done, or simply by things that happened subsequent to their statements or actions. The things that have happened around climate change on this government's watch have completely and utterly stripped the environment minister of all credibility. He should do the honourable thing and resign.

It is not just the axing of the Climate Commission, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. It is not just the inquiry into the Renewable Energy Target or the shameful international position the government has taken, saying that no country can be expected to sacrifice resource revenue to tackle climate change. Is the Prime Minister not aware that the economy is a wholly owned subsidiarity of the environment? No environment, no economy.

It is worse than that: the Prime Minister appointed Maurice Newman as chairman of his Business Advisory Council. Mr Newman describes climate change as a 'scientific delusion'. He says Australia is 'hostage to climate change madness' and accuses the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of dishonesty and deceit. And the Prime Minister makes this man his business adviser!

Is it a scientific delusion that, in Australia, average air temperatures have increased by 0.9 degrees Celsius since 1910? Is it a scientific delusion that, since the 1950s, every decade has been warmer than the one before? Is it a scientific delusion that 2013 was Australia's hottest year since records began more than a century ago? Given these facts, it would be crazy for governments and business not take the forecasts seriously. These forecasts include more heatwaves, more droughts and more bushfires. It would be imprudent and negligent for either government or business to ignore this. The tragedy of these kinds of disasters is avoidable. The renewable energy industry has the capacity—if only we helped it rather than trying to strangle it—to take us down a very different path. The CEO of the Clean Energy Council, David Green, said that solar PV is transitioning from being disruptive technology to being incumbent technology, displacing coal; generation will move from its traditional place at the point of supply to at or near the point of use. Climate change is happening now and our response needs to be on a scale, and of an urgency, that matches the problem.