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Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Page: 2366


Senator McALLISTER (New South WalesDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (11:34): Before proceeding to deal with the amendments, I wish to place on record a response to some of the remarks made by Senator McKim in the second reading debate. Senator McKim made a series of remarks about climate change and the impact of climate change on infrastructure. He went on to make a very unrealistic, unreasonable and inaccurate characterisation of the Labor Party's position in relation to these issues, and that characterisation cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged.

I remind Senator McKim and others in the chamber that, in 2007, it was the Labor opposition, under Kevin Rudd, and the states and territories who commissioned Professor Garnaut to undertake a very significant examination of the impact of climate change on the Australian economy and society. Professor Garnaut did an incredibly detailed piece of work—which I actually had the great fortune to be part of in a very, very small way—which, amongst other things, examined the impact of climate change on assets, including the infrastructure sectors that are the subject of this bill. Upon coming to government, the Labor Party and the then Prime Minister committed the Commonwealth to participate in the Garnaut climate change review, and the Labor Party then established an entire department dedicated to prosecuting both climate change emissions reduction and climate change adaptation. That department had an entire division that dealt with climate change adaptation and it did extensive work with the infrastructure sector, engaging with that sector on how to deal with the impacts of climate change on its assets.

It happens that I also subsequently worked in the private sector with a range of businesses in the infrastructure sector, nearly all of whom were actively engaged in assessing climate change risks to their businesses. In fact, I've spoken about this in this chamber on many occasions. Senator McKim's claim that it is only the Greens political party that has any interest in this issue and that it is the Greens political party that has led on this issue is laughable. It is inconsistent with the historical record, and I rise to place that on record in this chamber.

The opposition is pleased to support the amendments moved by Senator Fifield. They reflect the recommendations of the PJCIS. I note in particular the amendments in relation to the review function for the PJCIS. The amendments provide that the committee will review the operation, effectiveness and implications of the act within three years and examine whether or not it would be appropriate to have a unified scheme that covers all infrastructure assets, including telecommunication assets. Telecommunication assets are presently the subject of a separate regulatory regime, and the PJCIS asked government to consider whether or not at some point in the future these two regimes might sensibly be merged. The amendments before the chamber give effect to that recommendation and I commend them to the house.