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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11524


Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle) (18:10): I thank the member for Mayo for bringing this motion before the House. I saw her briefly outside and gave her that thanks personally, because she had to get to another chamber. I am very pleased to speak on the need for urgent action on climate change. It is an issue of the highest order. Climate change isn't a speculative theory anymore; it's a devastating reality that has very real, measurable impacts across the globe. The five warmest years on global record have occurred in the past seven years.

The brutal ignorance, or perhaps rank deceit, displayed by some members of the government about this fundamental scientific reality is one of the greatest travesties of politics today. The list of climate crimes by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Liberal governments is long and shameful. Over the past five years, they have systematically set out to dismantle or shackle everything Australia had to reduce emissions and stem the dire impacts of climate change. They abolished the carbon pricing mechanism. They removed the cap on pollution and installed the dodgy direct action program, which paid polluters in the hope that they would somehow stop polluting. They defunded the Climate Council. They launched a savage war on the renewable industry, which saw investments plummet by as much as 90 per cent. They tried to axe the renewable energy target. They tried to shut down the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and ARENA, which had its funding cut anyway. They then set up a pathetically low climate target that all but guarantees that we cannot meet our Paris targets and obligations.

All of this was under the direction of the apparent real leaders of the government—that is, the very rabid but small number of right-wing fringe dwellers in the party room who have completely hijacked the Liberal and National parties in Australia. Shame on you. It has just been an ongoing disappointment for Australians everywhere that both of those party rooms seem unable to deal with this small minority rump that has hijacked climate change and effective policy responses in this nation for years and years.

This gross neglect of climate and energy policy has not even stopped the spiralling electricity prices. We've seen plummeting business confidence and investment. This neglect also having a direct and material impact on emissions. Under the former Labor government, carbon emissions dropped more than 10 per cent. Since the Liberals got into power, carbon emissions have risen year on year. The government's own data shows that, under its policy void, carbon pollution will keep rising all the way out to 2030, the furthest date of projections. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change starkly outlined the very real chance that we will exceed a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees by 2040. We use a lot of superlatives in this place, but there are no words strong enough to impress the grave threat that this would pose to our health, our food security, our water supply and, indeed, our very existence.

The time for climate denialism in our federal government is over. The time to end the war on renewables is here, and the time for real action on climate change is now. And it's not just Labor saying this. The roar of community dissent is becoming deafening: Australians want action on climate change and they want it now. Last week in my electorate I met with around 30 young people between the ages of five and 13 from Newcastle East Public School. They said that they're concerned about the impact of climate change on our animals, our plants and our oceans, and they entreated me to take their message to parliament. It is a sad state of affairs when primary school students are more informed than government members about the dire implications of climate change, but that is the sad reality. My message to those students and to young people across Australia is simple: Labor will not shirk our responsibility to future generations. We've committed to reducing carbon pollution in line with the 45 per cent emissions target by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050. (Time expired)