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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 6285


Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (10:06): As it stands, the Greens do not support PACER Plus, and we won't be supporting this legislation. It's worth pointing out that Papua New Guinea and Fiji, the two largest Pacific island nation economies, are notably absent from this deal, and Vanuatu and Tonga have, at various times, withdrawn from the process. But what remains the elephant in the room as far as the Australian government is concerned in its dealings with our Pacific island neighbours is climate change. Of course, climate change is the elephant in the room as far as this government is concerned with regard to a whole range of public policy matters that it considers, but it is particularly relevant when we think about our Pacific neighbours. There are many Pacific island nations that have actually shown fantastic global leadership on the issue of climate change, and that's because they are going to be disproportionately impacted by climate change, particularly sea level rise, when in fact at a global level they have contributed next to nothing to the problem.

It's all very well for Senator Fierravanti-Wells to get up and talk today about some pitifully small amounts of money that Australia has allocated to Pacific island nations to prepare for the climate catastrophe that is looming for them, but let's be clear about the actual opportunity here for Australia. We need to show leadership in emissions reduction, not hand over some pitifully small amounts of money to nations that are likely to disappear off our global maps by the end of the century as a result of sea level rise. What's the Australian government proposing—that a nation like Kiribati, for example, get a few hydraulic jacks under it and jack itself up a couple of metres to avoid it disappearing underneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean in the next century or so? It beggars belief that we had a Pacific Islands Forum recently where the LNP government took deliberate steps to undermine serious action on climate change. And, remember, this government is a wholly owned subsidiary of the fossil fuel sector in this country. The LNP receives tens of millions of dollars in donations every year from dirty, polluting big corporations. We've got a Prime Minister who, of course, is infamous for waving a lump of coal around in the House of Representatives. Typically, he had to have that lump of coal covered in lacquer so he wouldn't get his hands dirty. Well, it didn't work for the Prime Minister, because his hands are filthy with coaldust and they are filthy from accepting donations from big fossil fuel companies.

This is a government made up of climate change deniers, a government made up of climate criminals, and it is posing an existential threat to some Pacific island nations. And do you know what? They know all this. Remember that the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott were caught on camera a few years ago having a good old laugh at the impacts of sea level rise on Pacific island nations. Until Australia steps up on emissions reduction, until we become a global leader on climate change, we are a bad neighbour to Pacific island countries. We need to do more. We need to take stronger action. We ought to be a global leader in emissions reduction. And we ought not believe that we can somehow buy off Pacific island nations with pitifully small amounts of foreign aid money that, in the words of the government, will enable them to build climate resilience into their economies and their communities when, in fact, it will do next to nothing to help our Pacific island neighbours avoid the most serious impacts of the disruption to our climate—which half of this government don't believe is being caused by humans and which the other half are not prepared to take the required action on because they have been bought off by the fossil fuel sector.