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Thursday, 13 August 2009
Page: 7873


Mr TURNOUR (4:54 PM) —Today the coalition voted against the national interest. They voted against the global interest. They voted against the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. They voted against a government plan and legislation to ensure that Australia, in the future, will reduce its carbon pollution. They voted against a plan that would enable Australia to go to the Copenhagen negotiations later this year and provide leadership in the global community.

They did that not because they were considering the national interest but because they are so caught up in their own political interests. The reality is that the government took to the last election a commitment to introduce an emissions trading scheme. The government took to the last election a commitment to increase the mandatory renewable energy target. We have an election mandate for these policies. The opposition is standing in the way of the wishes of the Australian people. The Australian people want the Australian government to take action on climate change. They want the opposition to get out of the way and they want us to be able to implement our policies.

But, sadly, the opposition are in disarray. On Monday this week, we saw the opposition bring down yet another report, the Frontier report, but it is not opposition policy; it is something they want to discuss as well as building on their so-called principle—about six weeks earlier—in terms of what they might do about climate change. The government, as I said, took to the election a commitment to introduce an emissions trading scheme and they took to the election a commitment to introduce a mandatory renewable energy target. We took those and we got elected. Since then and prior to the election we had the Garnaut report. We have had a green paper, we have had a white paper, we have had draft legislation, and now we have got legislation that has been passed in the House and has now been voted down in the Senate.

The opposition has had 18 months in opposition to consider this issue and has not been able to come up with a policy. It had 10 years prior to that to take action. The so-called Leader of the Opposition—and I say ‘so-called’ leader of the opposition because there is not much leadership on this issue coming from the opposition—has been shown up to be a hypocrite on this issue because, in the lead-up to the last election, he leaked very clearly that he thought the government at the time—the Howard government—should have signed the Kyoto protocol and that he supported an emissions trading scheme. But today in parliament he had the National Party running question time and he had the sceptics in the other chamber voting down our legislation.

It is an indication of the lack of leadership that he has and the lack of control he has got over his party that he is on the record as supporting an emissions trading scheme and on the record as saying he wants to see action on climate change, but, over there in the other place, we have got the sceptics out and about effectively voting down our legislation.

The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate is effectively a clear sceptic. Senator Minchin today in the debate said that CO2 is not by any stretch of the imagination a pollutant and that this whole extraordinary scheme is based on the, as yet, unproven assertion that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are main driver of global warming. We have got the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate basically a sceptic and we have got the Leader of the Opposition out of control and unable to control his troops in relation to this issue. Sadly, members like me that come down from Cairns, who represent a vibrant and very important tourism industry in this country, are looking for leadership from this government and are strong in our support for an emissions trading scheme for the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme because we recognise that the real jobs in the tourism industry are under threat if we do not take action on climate change.

On the day that the Leader of the Opposition was releasing the Frontier report—not a policy but a report—we have got another report highlighting the real risk to the Great Barrier Reef and tourism jobs from climate change if we do not take action. The Oxford Economics report commissioned by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation estimated the reef’s value at $17.9 billion in the Cairns region with permanent coral bleaching expected to devastate visitor numbers. We have got reports like this that show that the real risks, if we do not take action, are to jobs in the tourism industry and risks to our environment. The opposition is to get out of the way, support our legislation and allow us to go to Copenhagen with a strong policy position and able to provide strong leadership in the global community.

Question agreed to.