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Thursday, 19 October 2017
Page: 8086


Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (15:29): I move:

That the Senate take note of the responses given by the Minister representing the Prime Minister (Senator Brandis) to the question asked by Senator Richard Di Natale today relating to energy.

This government has shown throughout this week just how tightly it is in the pocket of the coal and fossil fuel industry. Make no mistake: the decision to roll backwards on the clean energy target, cut and slash the Renewable Energy Target and create massive uncertainty throughout the renewable energy sector is because Malcolm Turnbull has been forced by Tony Abbott and the other coal-loving members of his party room to back the dying, old fossil fuel industry over clean, green renewables.

We are in the middle of an ideological war. There are those who understand that we need to transition from old, dirty-style fossil fuel energy production to cleaner, more renewable energy, not just because we need to reduce emissions to tackle climate change, but because new renewable energy is cheaper than any suggested new coal-fired power plant or the massive subsidies that go to the gas industry, which we have seen over and over again. Despite the facts on the table, this government continues to do the barracking of the fossil fuel industry rather than looking towards the future, where renewables—solar, wind—with storage technology and demand management, can actually deliver cleaner, more reliable and cheaper power.

The other issue is that, in a time of climate change and global warming, we must do everything we can to reduce pollution. We've signed up to the Paris targets, but, under this plan put forward by the government, we will not meet them. Australia will again be shamed on the international stage because we will not even be able to meet the low targets that we had set in relation to the Paris agreement.

Some would say that this is just kicking the can down the road, and they would be right. We should be taking action and making decisions now, not simply leaving it to others in five, 10, 20, 30, 40 years time to deal with the onslaught and damage that is going to come from a further worsening of climate change and global warming. Kicking the can down the road is not the type of leadership that we need right now. We could be reducing pollution and doing what we can to help save the Great Barrier Reef and to ensure that we tackle climate change, and we could be investing in the renewable energy industry, which is jobs-rich, provides cheaper power and is, with the amazing technologies of storage and demand management, also more reliable.

We don't have an energy supply problem in Australia; we have a problem with how it is dispatched and how we manage peak demand. Yet all we hear from this government is bluster after bluster, excuse after excuse as to why they want to spend more public money, taxpayers' money, propping up the coal industry and giving subsidies to the gas industry. There's a lot of complaint about how much money is spent on renewable energy. Well, it doesn't come anywhere near the blank cheques that this government wants to write to the coal industry—a billion dollars to the Adani coalmine. We have One Nation pushing and campaigning and lobbying for a new coal-fired power station. That's going to cost billions of dollars. We have Tony Abbott himself, the former Prime Minister, demanding—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Hanson-Young, may I remind you to refer to—

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: That's why I said 'former Prime Minister'.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you.

Senator HANSON-YOUNG: We have the former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, demanding himself that the government build a new coal-fired power station. This is lunatic politics. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.