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Tuesday, 11 August 2015
Page: 4931

Climate Change


Senator WATERS (QueenslandCo-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:18): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Abetz. I refer to the weak and dangerous targets for climate pollution reduction announced today by your weak and dangerous Prime Minister. These targets utterly ignore the science, being less than half of the bare minimum that the Climate Change Authority said is needed to avoid dangerous global warming of two degrees or more. Your targets are a recipe for a nightmare scenario of two to three degrees of global warming. Have you got any scientific evidence showing that your targets would keep the world below the internationally agreed tipping point of two degrees of warming?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:18): I was absolutely right yesterday when I predicted that, no matter what the target was that we as a government would announce today, it would not be good enough for the Greens. Sure enough, Senator Waters has been able to confirm that that is the case.

In relation to the two-degree goal, can I advise the honourable senator—and she must surely know this—that this is a collective goal and not one that Australia can reach alone. In relation to that which Australia is doing, we are going to be reducing our emissions per person by 50 per cent. That is the highest reduction of any country that has thus far indicated its target, per person, so Australia is well and truly lifting beyond its capacity on a per capita basis. This is not a weak target, but it is an achievable target. It is not a dangerous target; it is one that keeps the environmental concerns in tune with the economic and job concerns that the Australian people rightly have.

We have seen from the Australian Labor Party a target that has not been suggested or adopted by any other country, which is solely designed to try to get some of the green vote in inner-city seats back to the Australian Labor Party. Well, the Labor Party can sell out their workers, the manufacturing sectors and the farm workers, all around the country in a bid for green votes. We will not be in that business. We will be in the business of having a good, balanced approach. If you have a look at those figures that have been announced today, we are in the middle of a— (Time expired)


Senator WATERS (QueenslandCo-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:21): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. The Prime Minister claimed today that he does things with the idea of promoting jobs and growth. How does having the environmental and economic disruption of three to four degrees of warming protect the existing 63,000 jobs in the climate sensitive Great Barrier Reef and the thousands of jobs in climate sensitive agriculture and create tens of thousands of jobs in clean energy in Australia? When will your government accept that acting on climate change creates jobs?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:21): Something that the Greens have never understood, it would appear, is balance in any argument. Whilst they will not be satisfied until we all ride bicycles and have windmills, there does have to be a balance. We say that renewable energy is a worthy cause, that it is something that we should pursue, but we need to do it in a manner that is sustainable for the average Australian household and retain jobs within the Australian economy.

Let's make no mistake. I may be corrected in relation to this, but I understand our target will be about 0.2 per cent of GDP and will have considerable cost implications for the Australian people, and you cannot shy away from that. But the Greens' proposal would see that as being even higher, with even greater job losses, and that is why we seek to have a balanced approach. (Time expired)


Senator WATERS (QueenslandCo-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:22): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I will press on. Over two-thirds of Australians want to see Australia's economy transformed.

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my right! Just a moment, Senator Waters. On my right, order! Senator Waters, would you mind starting again. Thank you.

Senator WATERS: Sure, if you could reset the clock. Over two-thirds of Australians want to see Australia's economy transformed into a jobs-rich, pollution-free future. Meanwhile, only six per cent of Australians want more government support for coal. In his press conference today, the Prime Minister said, 'The only way to protect the coal industry is to go with the kind of policies we have.' Yet even the G7 leaders have agreed to phase out coal by the end of the century. So which is it—protecting your coal donors or protecting Australia's future?




Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:23): If I were the Australian Greens, I would not be talking about donors when you get money from the CFMEU. But, coming back to the suggestion by the honourable senator that two-thirds of Australians want a jobs-rich and pollution-free economy, a pollution-free economy means no cars, for a start, no manufacturing and no agriculture. Senator Waters, be very careful what you are now telling us is the Australian Greens' policy. It is no pollution whatsoever. In relation to your contributions in this chamber, I wonder whether that might be classified in relation to CO2 emissions as well.