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Thursday, 20 August 2009
Page: 8557

Mr MELHAM (3:24 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government. How has the response of local government contributed to the important objective of a united national response to climate change?

Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) —I thank the member for Banks for his question. Indeed, responding to climate change was a theme at this year’s Australian Council of Local Government meeting held in the last week of June in conjunction with the parliamentary sitting here. Local government is working constructively with the national government to deal with the impacts of climate change. Many of the local community infrastructure projects that are rolling out around the country are creating jobs as well as building sustainability at the local level.

I am asked about the importance of a united national response to climate change. I have to report, Mr Speaker, as you would be aware, that a united response has been lacking. We have seen from those opposite chaos and division—not a single amendment proposed to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation because they could not agree between themselves. Those opposite have all week once again behaved like an absolute rabble. It is the climate change sceptics and the deniers who are controlling their party room, and the Leader of the Opposition has a very difficult task to bring his party, let alone the Nationals, into line so that we can truly have a united national position on climate change.

We have seen some of the veterans of this House, the dinosaurs, in their position of climate change denial. I have to report that they are also coming up the ranks through local government. The leader of the Liberal Party in the inner west of Sydney is a local councillor, Nick Adams. He provides an insight into what the rank and file view in the Liberal Party is when it comes to climate change. Just a few days ago he declared climate change to be a crock. He said:

The whole thing is a hoax—it’s a swindle.

He went on to say:

Even if every single Australian simultaneously broke wind, it would have zero impact on the environment.

He is a sophisticate, this bloke. He went on to say, in a criticism of people in his own party:

Anyone that supports the ETS is not a true patriot.

There was more:

Anyone that supports the ETS does not want jobs for all Australians. They are traitors.

That is the position coming up from the ranks of the Liberal Party that the Leader of the Opposition has to deal with.

Yesterday we saw the extraordinary position whereby we had a walkout at question time over a deal that they said they support. The extraordinary thing was not the walkout—they walked back about three minutes later. It was like they had a collective dunny break and came back in. They came back into the chamber because they did not know why they had left in the first place.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. Clearly this is unedifying in the national parliament but neither is it relevant to the question. I ask you to sit the minister down if he cannot rise above this pathetic gutter level.

The SPEAKER —The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. The minister is responding to the question.

Mr ALBANESE —Thank you, Mr Speaker. We on this side of the House did not ask people to leave yesterday. The fact is that the Leader of the Opposition was incapable of showing any leadership whatsoever. We all saw the member for O’Connor waving his finger, giving instructions to the Leader of the Opposition. What an absolute rabble. But the big problem is that it is a problem for the nation. It is a problem for them, but it is holding back reform.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The minister was asked a question about climate change, so how could this lunatic rant actually be relevant to the question? I withdraw ‘lunatic’. How can this rant be relevant to the question?

The SPEAKER —The minister is responding to the question and the minister will bring his answer to a conclusion.

Mr ALBANESE —To be fair, the Manager of Opposition Business has ruled out a leadership challenge between now and the next election.

Mr PYNE (Sturt) [3:30 PM] —I move:

That the member be no longer heard.

Question put.