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Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Page: 14626

Climate Change

Dr PHELPS (Wentworth) (14:20): My question is to the Prime Minister. The Wentworth by-election sent a clear message that people in my electorate want urgent action on climate change and the environment. We have just experienced a summer of extreme weather events—there are one million dead fish in the Darling River—and credible experts say that, on our current trajectory, Australia has no chance of reaching its Paris commitments. Last night's federal budget failed to take the opportunity to promote the role of renewable energy and show national leadership on the environment. Prime Minister, will you commit to strengthen our environment laws and put in place a well-resourced, independent national environment protection agency that would have equivalent powers to the national corporate regulator and the ability to impose a similar range of penalties?

Mr MORRISON (CookPrime Minister) (14:21): I thank the member for her question. The government agrees that action needs to be taken to address climate change, and that's why there was a $3.5 billion climate solutions plan included in last night's budget. And several weeks ago I outlined, in some precise detail, exactly how we were going to meet our 26 per cent emissions reduction target through the various measures that we've outlined, and that includes the Emissions Reduction Fund, which provides the reverse auction, which are purchases, and the abatement that is achieved within industry, business and others. That program has been extremely effective over the last five years. It's one of the reasons why, when we came to government, we turned around a more than 700 million tonne deficit in reaching our 2020 targets in Kyoto, and we will now beat our Kyoto targets by 369 million tonnes—a 1.1 billion tonne turnaround through the success of our emissions reduction policies.

In addition to that, there's the Snowy 2.0 scheme; the Energy Efficient Communities Program; the connection of the Marinus Link to Tasmania—

Dr Phelps: I rise on a point of order. The question was: will the government commit to—

The SPEAKER: The member for Wentworth needs to state the point of order.

Dr Phelps: It is on relevance.

The SPEAKER: The member for Wentworth may proceed.

Dr Phelps: My question was around whether the government would strengthen our environment laws and put in place a well-resourced, independent national environment protection agency with appropriate powers.

The SPEAKER: The member for Wentworth will resume her seat. I make the point to the member for Wentworth, as I've made on many occasions, that, whilst that was certainly asked, there was a lot of other material in the question as well. The Prime Minister—indeed, a minister answering the question—is entitled to refer to that. That is one of the perils of a 45-second question, I have to say. The Prime Minister has the call.

Mr MORRISON: These are the mechanisms which will ensure that we do meet our 2030 emissions reduction target, which we have set at 26 per cent. But I'll tell you what we won't do: what we won't do is force businesses to spend $36 billion purchasing foreign carbon credits as a way of reducing emissions. That is the policy that the Labor Party announced on Monday of this week. They want carbon credits from Kazakhstan. That is the policy of forcing businesses to shell out $36 billion that they could spend on increasing wages, on creating jobs and on investing in their businesses and in dividend distributions to their shareholders. But, no, the Labor Party wants $36 billion to go to foreign carbon traders.

Over in Kazakhstan, I'm sure they're pretty pleased about this. I'm sure they're absolutely thrilled about this. Some may call this a carbon tax. I will call it 'the Borat tax'. The Borat tax, which will be put on by the Labor Party, will have carbon credits from Kazakhstan. I know what Borat would think of the Labor Party's policies on emissions reduction; he would say, 'Very nice; very nice!' That's what he'd be thinking about the carbon trading policies of the Leader of the Opposition, who wants to force companies to send $36 billion offshore—sucking jobs offshore, sucking profits offshore and sucking wage increases offshore. The only bonus anyone is going to get from the Leader of the Opposition is the bonus that will be provided to foreign carbon traders, who are just simply saying to the Leader of the Opposition, 'Make my bonus.' (Time expired)