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Monday, 23 May 2011
Page: 4046

Climate Change


Mr CHEESEMAN (Corangamite) (14:43): My question is to the Treasurer. Why is tackling climate change important for our economy and what action is the government taking? How has this approach been received and what is the government's response?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:43): I thank the member for that very important question. This is a very important report. It points to the fact that we do need to act on climate change, that we need to reduce our carbon pollution, if we want to have a prosperous economy and if we want to grow sustainably into the future and create the jobs that we require for our children and for our grandchildren.

Dangerous climate change will have a dramatic impact not just on our environment but on our economy. This has been demonstrated by report after report. It was demonstrated first and foremost by the Stern report many years ago and then demonstrated by the Garnaut report and again demonstrated today. We on this side of the House absolutely understand that the costs of inaction on climate change are far greater than the costs of action. We understand that. We understand that the only growth strategy for the future is a growth strategy which puts in place lower carbon pollution. That is the only sustainable way forward to continue to create jobs. To do this, and to put in place a price on carbon, it means that we get investment in the renewable energy of the future. But to do all of this you need to have a clear economic vision for our future. This government does have a clear economic vision for our future, but unfortunately those opposite have no such vision whatsoever. That was on display in this House when the Leader of the Opposition gave his non-budget reply. It was on display again at the Press Club when we had that appalling performance from the shadow Treasurer only last week. It was probably the worst in history from a shadow Treasurer at the Press Club.

What we know is that this is all about something far deeper than their incapacity to put forward an alternative economic policy; it is about the fact that the Leader of the Opposition denies the science of climate change. That is absolutely at the core because this Leader of the Opposition will not make the hard decisions. This Leader of the Opposition is unwilling and incapable of facing up to the big decisions our country needs to make—whether it is bringing our budget back to surplus, taking action during a global recession or dealing with dangerous climate change. He is absolutely incapable of making those hard decisions because what he wants to do is the politically opportunistic thing and not the right thing by the country.

Mr Pyne: On a point of order, Mr Speaker, the Treasurer was not asked a question that had anything whatsoever to do with the answer he is giving, and I ask you to draw him back to the question that he was asked.

Mr Albanese interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! Whilst interjections are out of order, the Leader of the House, in a reverse point of order, is repeating the question, which is a typically crafted question that talks about how the approach is being received and the government's response. This does open the door but, as I have said in the past, it is not an invitation for total debate. The Treasurer will relate his answer directly to those two aspects of the question.

Mr SWAN: I was asked about the consequences of not taking action. We on this side of the House are determined to take action and, of course, the wreckers opposite are going to try to stop us taking the action which goes to the very core of economic prosperity in this country. Of course, they are doing that because the Leader of the Opposition does not believe in the science. His puppeteer and the man who installed him in his job, Senator Minchin, was out there today making it clear that the Liberal and National parties do not believe the science of climate change.

There are some on the other side who do believe in the science of climate change and do understand its importance to a prosperous economy. We had the member for Wentworth completely repudiate the Leader of the Opposition on this question last week, but he is so incapable of making a tough decision that he could not even discipline the member for Wentworth. He could not do any of that because what we have is a Leader of the Opposition who will not face up—

The SPEAKER: Order! I remind the Treasurer that it is the government's response to how a particular policy approach is being received that the question asked for—not anybody else's.

Mr SWAN: As I move around the community, Australians say to me: 'Please take some action on dangerous climate change. It is a threat to our future.' It is not a threat understood by any of them over there because at their core they are all climate change deniers.

Mr Tony Smith interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! If the member for Casey was warned, he has just been very lucky. He is now definitely warned.