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Monday, 26 May 2003
Page: 14835


Mr KELVIN THOMSON (12:45 PM) —Just as Simon Crean's Riverbank initiative in his budget reply showed that one party, the Labor Party, is serious about saving the Murray, the Kyoto Protocol Ratification Bill 2003 tells the Australian people that there is one party in this place which is serious about tackling climate change, and that is the Labor Party. This is a bill which tells Australian farmers that we care about the impact of droughts and floods on them; we care about those CSIRO projections that say that increasing temperatures will lead to increased severity and increased frequency of droughts and floods in the years ahead. This is a bill which tells the residents of Queensland and Queensland's tourism industry that we care about the impact of global warming on coral bleaching through increased water temperatures on the Great Barrier Reef.

This is a bill which tells the people of Victoria and the Victorian tourism industry that we do not intend to see a loss of snow cover on Victoria's Alps with all that that means for Victoria's tourism, alpine cover and our recreational activities in the alpine area. This is a bill which tells people in Western Australia, particularly in the south-west and west, that we understand that their climate has been changing over the course of the past couple of decades and that we are concerned about the impact of increased temperatures, reduced rainfall and increasing droughts in that area.

This is a bill which tells residents in the tropics that we do not want to see an increased risk of tropical diseases, such as dengue fever or even malaria, which some of the research tells us is likely to occur if we allow climate change to go unchecked. This is a bill which tells the insurance industry that we understand the impact that increased severity of extreme weather events will have on the insurance industry and their capacity to meet claims. Recently, I was in Sutherland shire visiting the emergency services area. They understand the great irony of having to battle floods only a matter of weeks after they were battling bushfires in the same terrain. Those disasters will occur not only in Sutherland shire but in other parts of Australia if we do not act to control and do not act to do everything we can to curb climate change.

This is a bill which tells Australian business that we understand that they should be entitled to be part of the new business order which seeks to engage in trade in carbon emissions, buying and selling carbon credits, and that we should be part of the clean development mechanism. We understand that there is a risk to Australian business, that they will be locked out of global trade in these matters if Australia does not ratify the Kyoto protocol. We understand that many Australian businesses now support ratification of the Kyoto protocol because they understand that that is good for business and necessary for them to move ahead.

Finally, this is a bill which tells the Australian people and the rest of the world that the Labor Party believes in being good international environmental citizens. I and other Labor Party members are ashamed of our international reputation on environmental matters, including climate change. Last year, I had the honour of visiting the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg and I listened to what all the European countries are doing not only to ratify the Kyoto protocol but also to play their part in reducing and curbing greenhouse gas emissions. We heard stirring calls for ratification of the Kyoto protocol from countries as small as Tuvalu, which is threatened by flooding due to increased sea level rises, and from countries like Germany, which is impacted on by floods. We listened to what all those other countries are doing. They want to play their role, yet we have Australia saying, `Because the United States does not want to ratify, we are not prepared to ratify.' That is a disgraceful and unacceptable international position for us to take. We need to support the Kyoto protocol. We need to support the collective international effort to curb climate change. We need to be good and responsible international environmental citizens. It is in our interests and in the interests of the entire world.

Bill read a first time.


The SPEAKER —In accordance with standing order 104A, the second reading will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.