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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 1010

Mr WILKIE (Denison) (11:51): Mr Deputy Speaker, I second the amendment moved by the member for Melbourne, and I thank him for kindly allowing me a few minutes to say a few words before the question must be put.

I will just briefly list 10 reasons why we must take strong action on climate change, prevent the government from overturning the price on carbon and support the amendment moved by the member for Melbourne. Reason 1: we have a fundamental responsibility to clean up the environment because we are a major contributor to the cause of climate change, and also because we, as a nation, have the money, the knowledge and the wherewithal to do something about the mess we are making and have made.

Reason 2: we should do everything in our power to minimise the intergenerational injustice of climate change. Our actions ripple far into the future, and we owe it to our children to clean up the environment now and to put in place the mechanisms to help keep the environment clean into the future.

Reason 3: extreme weather events are already hurting people. It is not just about the future, because climate change is a present threat and not just one that will impact on our children. From bushfires to wild weather, there can quite simply be no doubt that we are all either directly affected by climate change or greatly concerned for those who are.

Reason 4: we were a global leader on climate change, until the Abbott government proposed undoing all the good work of the 43rd Parliament. As a nation and per capita, Australia is a big part of the carbon problem, and we can and should be a big part of the solution.

Reason 5: climate change is a genuine security and humanitarian problem. Extreme weather leads to global and regional instability, not least because of the damaging effects of wild weather, rising sea levels and the mass movement of environmental refugees. Action is required now to prevent even greater problems—problems that will not be contained by national borders.

Reason 6: a price on carbon also helps prepare Australia for the future global economy. As nations wake up to the importance of climate action they will adapt, and in fact already are adapting, their economies to suit, and if Australia falls behind we will be left behind.

Reason 7: dealing with climate change will boost the Tasmanian economy, because a prospering renewable-energy industry creates jobs and fosters economic development. Already Hydro Tasmania is enjoying an increase of some $70 million in revenue annually on account of the current carbon pricing regime.

Reason 8: there will also be greater business certainty by leaving current climate change policies as they are. No wonder so many business leaders urged the coalition opposition to not make any significant changes to carbon pricing in the event that the coalition won the 2013 election.

Reason 9: climate change is a matter of principle, and we must take a principled stand. Yes, economic arguments have merit, but above all this debate is about accepting the climate science, admitting fault and taking responsibility for our actions.

Finally, reason 10: this is about people being people of their word. John Howard once argued for a price on carbon, as did Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Hunt. So if the Liberal Party is to stand for something then it really should put its political self-interest aside and back the price on carbon.

For my part, I went to the 2010 election arguing for a price on carbon and backed the relevant bills when they came before the parliament. I then went to the 2013 election promising to try and keep the price on carbon, and that is what I am trying to do right now and what I urge the rest of the members in this place to try to do. I second the amendment by the member for Melbourne.