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Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Page: 11493


Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (21:02): Finally the true position of the opposition front bench comes out: that they do not believe in climate change and it is all a conspiracy by nasty scientists paid by heaven knows who.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker, the comments made by the member for Parramatta are not relevant to the amendment being moved and they are a reflection upon comments made that you ruled were not in order in the debate.

Ms OWENS: On the point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker: my comments were about a part of the member for Mackellar's speech which you did not rule on, and she knows that full well. If she does not believe in climate change, one would have to question her capacity to think things through.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: On the point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker: the member for Parramatta when rising to speak to the subject matter of the amendment must stick to the subject matter. She is not entitled to put words in my mouth. She is only entitled to speak strictly to the amendment.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I remind the member for Parramatta that she is under the same obligation to address her remarks to the amendments before the House.

Ms OWENS: I do not need to put words in the member for Mackellar's mouth. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition concerns yet another delay, an attempt by the opposition yet again to delay action on climate change. The member for Riverina, who spoke earlier, is quite new to this House, but the member for Mackellar and many of the other people in the House have been here long enough to know the history and how long the debate on climate change has been going on.

I came to this parliament in 2004. At that stage the Labor Party was campaigning on signing the Kyoto protocol. I ran an extensive campaign in my electorate way back in 2004 on that aspect of climate change. It was well received in my electorate and in the electorates of many of my Labor colleagues. In 2007, both sides of this House, the government and the opposition, went to the electorate promising action on climate change through a market based mechanism. The two policies were different. The opposition policy was for a three-year fixed price which they did not call at tax time.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: Madam Deputy Speaker, you have ruled that speakers must be directly specific to the amendment as moved. Therefore the member for Parramatta has to explain why it should not be held up until after there has been an election and give reasons why it has to be put now. That is not what she is doing.

Ms OWENS: I am describing the history of this, why the debate has gone on long enough and why there should not be a further delay. In 2007, the Labor side went to the election with an emissions trading scheme with a one-year fixed price. During the term from 2007 to 2009, when it was finally rejected in the Senate, we had a white paper, a green paper, an exposure draft, debate in this House and two Senate inquiries. The opposition of the time negotiated with the government on an outcome and the parties agreed on it. Then overnight there was an opposition leadership change and the opposition changed their policy after four years of consistency on this policy. The shame of it is that on this side we know that this is a policy blip on the part of the opposition. Once their leadership changes again, they will revert to their natural policy position, which is to support a market mechanism as they did in 2007, 2008 and 2009. When that happens, they will realise they lost this opportunity by not entering into the debate on this.

Australia is an interesting country. The Australian people tend to pick one party in the state government, one party in the federal government and a balance-of-power, minor party in the Senate. They require us as a government and an opposition to work together to get our bills through, and every government in Australian history, with the exception perhaps of the Howard government when it had a majority in the Senate, has done exactly that. The government and the opposition have worked together to find a path through. It is the working together of both sides which causes stability in this country. It means that when governments change we do not flip-flop from one side of the policy to the other because we have worked together to find a position which we can both support. You have lost an opportunity here. You have lost a real opportunity to be part of a major reform.