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Thursday, 27 March 2014
Page: 3380

Mr ZAPPIA (Makin) (12:52): Can I go straight to a couple of the remarks that were just made by the member for Moncrieff. He said that the opposition is exceedingly generous with other people's money. Perhaps he should look very carefully at the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the returns that it will provide to the Australian public. It is very clear that this is not being exceedingly generous with other people's money but rather providing a return to the Australian taxpayers on the money that is going to be expended—a return in the order of some seven per cent, or $200 million a year, over the next few years.

I want to go to another point that he made which, I think, is even more critical. He made the point that we are going to burden future generations with this so-called debt. I ask the member for Moncrieff: what kind of burden would he have us leave future generations if we, as a society, do nothing about the impacts of climate change? These are impacts which, I might say, have been confirmed time and time again by the scientific community of the world. The most recent reports, including reports from the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology here in Australia, confirm the predictions made years ago that our climate is changing, it is changing in a very severe way and the impacts of that change are going to be very severe for future generations, who will have to wear those costs. In fact, in the last summer alone, my recollection is that there were 156 records broken in terms of the climate of this country.

Also, on the subject of his government's direct action policy, I quote to him a comment from the member for Wentworth, who said:

… the farce that the coalition's policy, of lack of policy, on climate change has descended into … You cannot cut emissions without a cost … Somebody has to pay.

Those are comments from one of their own members, not from people on this side of the House but from someone who at least has the decency to acknowledge that that science in respect of climate change is right. But I will go further. Lord Deben, a former Tory minister and now the head of the UK's independent Committee on Climate Change, described the Abbott government's approach to climate change as being:

… so unintellectual as to be unacceptable; I mean, it is just amazing.

This legislation that the government seeks to repeal was put in place as part of a total package to manage the concerns that society has about climate change. Part of that strategy is, in fact, not only to have a mechanism by which polluters will reduce the amount of pollution that they create but also to encourage investment in innovation in areas where we will reduce the amount of carbon that is emitted into the atmosphere. You can only do that if you invest in new technology. Members opposite say, 'Are you prepared to invest your own money into the new technology?' I say to them: how can you expect anyone to invest their money in new technology when they have no certainty of policy because members of the government on that side said that, if they got elected, they would change the policy as they are doing right now? You cannot get certainty of investment if you are going to change your policies from one election to another. If they were prepared to be honest about this whole issue and at least agree to stick to the commitments around the renewable energy targets and the targets to reduce emissions by five per cent by 2020, at least that would provide some level of certainty to those people who are prepared to invest in new technologies because they know that, ultimately, we have to do so.

The Abbott government is clearly showing that it is prepared to turn its back on the science of climate change, and, in doing so, is turning its back on future generations, who will, indeed, have to pay dearly because of the inaction of this government. We are not only seeing it through this legislation; we are seeing it across the board. In fact, yesterday in question time the Minister for the Environment could barely utter the words 'climate change'. I think he did it once in response to a question about the very subject. That is how committed the government is to climate change. We saw it also with respect to the Land Transport Infrastructure Amendment Bill—again, deletion of all reference to climate change. They want to hide it away and bury it away because, that way, they can pretend it does not exist. Well, the truth is: it does exist. If this government is prepared to turn its back on this kind of initiative, then what it is really saying is that it does not care about future generations. It is prepared to capitalise on profiting today so that others pay dearly in the future. (Time expired)