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Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Page: 5479

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) (7:16 PM) —The government will not be supporting this amendment. Given that we are not going to get this through tonight, I thought I might respond to a couple of the barbs from Senator Bob Brown, including his comments about climate change et cetera. I just want to say this: even with the passage of this legislation, Australia’s contribution to climate change will continue to worsen. So for Senator Brown to come in here and say that, after he has chosen to vote down the first piece of legislation to put a legislated limit on Australia’s contribution to climate change—the first legislated limit on Australia’s carbon pollution—is really extraordinary. If he really were about delivering policy to reduce our contribution to climate change—to put in place the price incentives, the system that will drive innovation in clean technologies and drive the development of the new economy that he talks about—he would not have sat with Senators Boswell, Joyce and Fielding to vote against the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Because even if the legislation that is before the chamber now passes this Senate—which I hope it will, given the contributions which have been made—we know that Australia’s carbon pollution will continue to rise to 120 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020. So there is an enormous amount of posturing in this debate today and previously. I hope that we can, as a Senate, debate the issue of policy on climate change in a more sensible way than we have seen thus far in this debate and certainly in the debate last week.

The senator asked about our attitude on a feed-in tariff. I again remind the good senator that the government did not go to the election with a commitment to implement a feed-in tariff; we went to the election with a commitment to implement what is before the chamber: a 20 per cent increase in Australia’s renewable energy target, a fourfold increase in Australia’s renewable energy by the end of the decade.

In relation to the response on the off-grid issue, the senator talked about COAG and the never-never. I did not respond, because I had previously responded to the question. I had said that the COAG review was anticipated to report by the end of the year. I trust that we are able tomorrow to get through some of the amendments. I am very happy to have a debate on climate change. I would remind those in this chamber that everyone other than Labor senators voted against having a debate in committee and simply voted to oppose that legislation. They may want to move on from that, but the reality is that the Greens and the opposition voted to ensure Australia’s carbon pollution continued to rise. I understand that the senator is sensitive about this, but that is the reality, Senator Brown.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Sen-ator Moore)—Senator Brown on a point of order? You have five seconds, Senator Brown.

Senator Bob Brown —It is the deal covering the coalition the senator has with the Nationals and the Liberal Party tonight. That is what it is all about.

Progress reported.