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Monday, 7 July 2014
Page: 4189

Senator SINGH (Tasmania) (13:56): I rise to vote against Senator Abetz's suspension motion and to make it very clear that the Senate is a house of review. It is different from the other place because we do scrutinise and review legislation. For the senators to do their job effectively, that has to happen through its committee process. The Environment and Communications Legislation Committee is due to table its report on those bills on 14 July. That date has been set by the Senate. That has been set because that committee wanted time to scrutinise those bills. It actually wanted to go further and hear from the experts—but that, I understand, was not allowed. That would have given the further scrutiny required when we are looking at debating these incredibly important bills that are going to be brought before this chamber. Yet that has not occurred. Why is that? Because that fits again around this framework that this government operates—that is, a framework of secrecy. It does not allow for the committee to hear from environmental scientists, experts, professionals in their field—who know a lot more than Senator Scullion and a number of government senators, and opposition senators, when it comes to climate science—the reasons why it is important to have a price on carbon pollution.

Labor's position on this has been very clear: we accept the science on climate change and, in doing so, we accept that we need to do something about it. Our position is an emissions trading scheme. That is the most efficient and effective way to do something about carbon pollution in this country—as it has been going on throughout the rest of the world.

As Labor's spokesperson for the environment and climate change in this chamber, I am pleased to say that Labor very much supports an emissions trading scheme going forward. It will continue to be our policy, because we want to tackle climate change in the most effective way possible—that is, through an emissions trading scheme. It is time that the government senators in this place start listening to the scientists, start listening to evidence based research which says that we need to do something to tackle climate change. And, if that is not good enough, listen to the 59 economists who today have said that we need to put a price on carbon pollution and do something about ensuring that the carbon pollution that is produced in this country for our future generations has a limit, a legal cap, on it. That is what an emissions trading scheme would do, and that is why we support it.

Debate interrupted.