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Thursday, 30 October 2003
Page: 17217

Senator LUNDY (9:35 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

The Kyoto Protocol will not save the world's climate. It is the first step, which demonstrates the willingness of the world's nations to acknowledge the threat of global warming and to form a global alliance in response. Australia and the United States, the highest per capita greenhouse gas polluters in the world, together with Russia, stand isolated in refusing to accept their responsibility to ratify the protocol.

The Greens and the Labor Party support ratification. Kelvin Thomson, Shadow Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, has introduced a bill identical to this in the House of Representatives, while the Greens introduced a similar bill to the Senate previously. This bill represents a renewed, combined effort from Labor and the Greens to have the Howard Government enter the 21st century and ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

A growing number of businesses support ratification, including British Petroleum whose Australasian Chief, Greg Bourne, fears companies will be left in the lurch by the government's failure (AAP, 5 September 2002). Two hundred and fifty-four Australian economists from all of Australia's major universities, have urged ratification, saying that “as economists, we believe that global climate change carries with it serious environmental, economic and social risks and that preventive steps are justified” (AAP, 14 August 2002). Australia's Catholic Bishops are calling for ratification “We urge the Australian Government to join in solidarity with the other 190 nations of the world who have signed the Kyoto Protocol and to commit the Australian nation to meeting the noble ideals of the Johannesburg Earth Summit” (Media Release, 13 September 2002).

The Australian people overwhelmingly want Kyoto ratified—over 70% in an opinion poll conducted by Greenpeace (AAP, 9 July 2002).

This bill requires the Australian government to ratify the Kyoto Protocol within 60 days of it passing the parliament. It is simple. It is necessary. It is overdue. It should be passed.

The Kyoto Protocol Ratification Bill 2003 is a step towards helping Australian farmers who are feeling the impact of droughts and floods; it is a step towards addressing CSIRO projections that say that increasing temperatures will lead to increased severity and increased frequency of droughts, fires and floods in the years ahead. This is a bill which is a step towards addressing the concerns of the residents of Queensland and Queensland's tourism industry who know about the massive impact of global warming on the Great Barrier Reef because of coral bleaching resulting from increased water temperatures.

This is a bill which tells the people of Victoria and the Victorian tourism industry that we are acting to stem the 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 its capacity to meet claims.

This is a bill which tells Australian business that we understand that it should be entitled to be part of the new business order which seeks to engage in trade in carbon emissions, and 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 it 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 it 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 Australians believe in being good international environmental citizens. While many countries, small and large, want to play a role in addressing climate change, the Australian government is saying “Because the United States does not want to ratify, we are not prepared to ratify”. That is an 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.

To end the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, scientists say that a minimum 60% reduction in the 1990 level of emissions is required. The Kyoto Protocol is an essential first step to offsetting the warming of the Earth with all its obvious dangers for the coming generations.

Senator LUNDY —I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.