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Thursday, 13 August 2009
Page: 7842

Mr BEVIS (2:47 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change. What is the impact of the Senate’s failure to support action on climate change earlier today?

Mr COMBET (Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change) —I thank the member for Brisbane for his question. The government has an unequivocal mandate to take action on climate change. It is critical for our environment, it is critical for our society, it is critical for our economy and it is critical for future generations. Underpinning the government’s commitment is respect for the overwhelming scientific evidence. The government, along with the other 191 countries that have ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, respects the science. Yesterday I updated the House on the available scientific evidence. Importantly, in that evidence it is overwhelming that human induced emissions are responsible for the observed warming. Without action, temperatures could rise by up to five or six degrees by the end of the century, which would obviously have extremely serious consequences. For that reason it is vital to pass the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation so that we can begin to reduce emissions.

But today in the Senate the opposition failed the Australian people, failed Australian business and failed the environment. They failed to stand up in the national interest and they failed to support the most significant economic and environmental reform ever undertaken in this country. They failed to support action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our economy. As a result, investment opportunities in renewable and clean energy will be lost. It is absolutely clear why those opposite do not support action on climate change. It is because they cannot agree on a policy. There is a foundational issue at the heart of the coalition’s disunity, and that is the climate science. Many amongst the opposition do not respect the science. The coalition contributions to the Senate debate have been extremely instructive on this issue. Senators from the opposition, including the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Minchin, and Senators Bernardi, Bushby, Joyce and others have proudly touted their refusal to respect the climate science. Senator Minchin had this to say:

… this whole extraordinary scheme … is based on the as yet unproven assertion that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are the main driver of global warming.

He has denied the climate science. What an extraordinary contribution! While the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the Liberal Party in this chamber, is on the record accepting the climate science, the leader of the Liberals in the Senate refuses to respect it. And it is not only Senator Minchin who has made some extraordinary contributions in the last couple of days. None other than the shadow Treasurer, the member for North Sydney, yesterday on breakfast television said this:

… climate change is real … whether it’s made by human beings or not, that’s open to dispute …

Yet another one!

Government members interjecting—

Mr COMBET —The member for North Sydney may be looking at the numbers, but I fancy he has been hanging out with Uncle Wilson! That is what has been going on. The opposition are the voice of the past; they cannot come to grips with the future. This government will take this country into the future. This is a reform that is vital for our environment, vital for our economy and vital for our communities. The determination of this government to make this reform should not be underestimated—and make it we will!