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Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Page: 8682


Senator MILNE (1:55 PM) —As I rise to speak today, the earth, its people and its ecosystems are facing a planetary emergency driven by global warming and the Rudd government has demonstrated not only that is it not up to the task of addressing a global emergency but also that it has deliberately, willingly and knowingly turned its back on this generation, future generations and in particular all of those people in developing countries who are already suffering from climate change.

It is extraordinary that in human history one generation of humans has the power to impact overwhelmingly on all generations to come after. What we have seen here in this parliament today is a government thinking that a superficial political deal will suffice as a response to climate change. Taking $6 billion away from Australia’s households and handing it across to the coal industry—to coal-fired generators—is not an appropriate response to climate change.

Let us forget any notional view that this Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme which we are going to be debating for the next few days has anything to do with the climate. It has nothing to do with the climate. It is a political deal to try to cover the back of the Rudd government and it will absolutely fail to do that.

In particular, it is a prescription for the death knell of the Great Barrier Reef. We have heard the Prime Minister and the Minister for Climate Change and Water talk about the Great Barrier Reef, and now they should admit that the pathetically weak targets that they are adopting will roll the dice against future generations and against the Great Barrier Reef. There is less than a 50 per cent chance of the Great Barrier Reef surviving. There is less than a 50 per cent chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. And that is the basis on which the Prime Minister looks to the Australian people and tries to suggest that the action he is taking is some kind of appropriate response to climate change. It is simply payday for polluters here in Parliament House. It is a slight on future generations and it is the doublethink that George Orwell warned about in his novel 1984 when people hold two contradictory ideas in their head at the same time and believe them both to be true.

How can the Prime Minister say that there is a moral imperative to address climate change and then pay the polluters and lock in failure to achieve the kind of climate that will be safe for future generations? Where is the commitment to 350 parts per million? Where is that commitment from our science minister and from our climate change minister? There is no commitment to 350 parts per million. There is no commitment to getting rid of coal-fired generation. There is none. What is more, there is a determination to lock in coal out to 2020, and that is what this does. (Time expired)

Debate interrupted.