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Thursday, 18 September 2003
Page: 20511

Mrs ELSON (2:48 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage. Would the minister advise the House of progress made in reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions? How are Howard government initiatives helping to combat climate changes and are there any alternative policies?

Dr KEMP (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —I thank the honourable member for Forde for her question. This morning I released the 2001 national greenhouse gas inventory, which shows that Australia remains on track to reach the target of 108 per cent of 1990 emissions by 2010. The inventory shows that over the last year we have actually moved closer to the target, with projections for 2008-12 coming down from 111 per cent to 110 per cent. This is a very satisfactory result.

The first implication of this, of course, is that the current greenhouse gas measures—towards which the government has put almost $1 billion—are working; these measures are delivering. The latest estimate is that the existing measures will reduce Australia's emissions by some 67 million tonnes by 2010. That is up from 60 million tonnes last year and is equivalent to taking all vehicles off the road. The second major implication of these figures is that under the Howard government we have begun the process of decoupling greenhouse gas emissions from economic growth. While the economy continues to grow strongly, by the end of the decade greenhouse gas intensity is expected to be 44 per cent lower than it was in 1990. That means that for every dollar of GDP the level of greenhouse gas we emit is lower year by year. In fact, in 2001 greenhouse gas emissions were no higher than they were in 1990.

This does not mean that we can relax, but it does mean that Australia has no need to go down the job-destroying, industry-destroying track that Crean Labor wants it to go down. It is no wonder that the Labor premiers have dissociated themselves from the policy of federal Labor. I remind the House that, last year in September, Peter Beattie, the Premier of Queensland, said that ratifying the Kyoto protocol would cost jobs in Queensland. When a journalist challenged Premier Beattie on this point and said, `That is what John Howard is arguing as well,' Mr Beattie replied:

Well, it's true. I mean, I'm just telling what the truth is.

And it was the Western Australian Premier who said:

I'm not happy about the Commonwealth just signing up ...

So, on such an important matter as greenhouse gas emissions, the Leader of the Opposition is not even able to carry the whole of the Labor Party with him. Even his own party does not believe the policy that he is advocating. The real difference between Labor and the coalition is that we are doing the hard policy yards, putting the resources into cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions and reducing land clearing. It is not by ratifying a flawed international agreement that you are going to solve this problem; it is by practical and effective measures, by proper community and industry partnerships, and by a global framework—and that is what Australia is working towards.