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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 1034


Mr GILES (Scullin) (13:38): Today is the day of audacity in this place, typified by the last contribution, that of the member for Riverina. He talked earlier about negativity yet had precisely nothing to say about climate change, nothing to say about the legislation that is before us.

Unlike the member for Riverina and the other members opposite, I believe that taking action on climate change is the most urgent priority for Australia. Unlike members opposite, I believe that putting a price on carbon must be at the core of taking effective action. I believe the scientists on climate change and I believe the economists on how we should respond to meeting this great challenge. There is a consensus in both of those communities that flies in the face of the actions of this government. I refer in particular to September's Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We have heard the numbers plenty of times, but I think it is worth repeating them: 97 per cent of climate scientists concur that climate change is driven by man-made greenhouse gas emissions and 86 per cent of economists, normally the friends of members opposite, support an ETS as the cheapest and most efficient way to reduce carbon pollution.

Owing to the procedural games that are being played, we do not have the opportunity to go to the heart of the amendments of the member for Port Adelaide.

Mr Christensen interjecting

Mr Giles: You will have your turn. We do not have the opportunity to talk about effective action in the form of the ETS. We have before us legislation that I will be opposing because it does not meet the challenge. Labor went to the last three elections promising to put a price on carbon. I was elected to this place on that basis and I will act accordingly.

Putting a price on carbon is of course the most efficient way to allocate capital to cleaner ways of producing and using energy. We need to put a cap on carbon pollution; we need to continue to support renewables; and we need to retain the Climate Change Authority so that the Australian people can continue to have the benefit of that which this government fears the most: independent advice.

We need to replace a backwards policy—this Liberal Party policy—that will not work with one that will, an emissions trading scheme, replacing the carbon tax with a market based mechanism that caps pollution and lets businesses determine the most effective and cost-effective way to operate under that cap. As we know from the procedural debate earlier, Treasury modelling tells us that an early ETS would also reduce significantly the cost of living as well as reducing the cost of carbon.

Our choice is stark. We have a choice to stand up for our children and their children or to blink in the face of this great moral challenge and reduce our future to a meaningless, misleading three-word slogan. As the member for Fremantle put it so well this morning when she had the opportunity to participate fully in this debate: polluter pays or paying polluters. That is the choice before us.

Considerations of equity today and, most importantly, considerations of equity tomorrow, of looking to our children and their children, require us to act, to do our fair share as others throughout the world are doing. To turn our backs on science, economics and indeed on the rest of the world is not an option. To mortgage our future on the farce that is Direct Action is simply not an option. I am confident that Labor stands on the right side of history in this debate.