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Monday, 16 November 2009
Page: 11670

Mr PERRETT (2:32 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science and the Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change. Will the minister outline why the parliament needs to pass the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme now and why Australia needs to take action on climate change?

Mr COMBET (Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science and Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change) —I thank the member for Moreton for his question. Today the House will vote on one of the most important economic and environmental reforms that this country has ever undertaken, in the form of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. As the Prime Minister indicated earlier, the science on climate change is absolutely clear. It is real and the impacts will be significant, particularly in this country as a hot and dry continent. A failure to act will have adverse effects on our ecosystems and our economy.

The recently released report, Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coasts, makes this need to act very clear indeed. The report predicted that up to 247,600 individual residential buildings worth $63 billion are at risk of inundation from a 1.1 metre sea level rise. That is modelled at the upper level of risk. Even with a midrange rise of 0.5 metres, current one-in-100-year extreme weather events, including inundation of coastal areas, could occur several times a year. It is very clear evidence of the importance of acting. At a 1.1 metre sea level rise major coastal infrastructure such as airports and ports will be at risk from inundation and more frequent extreme weather events. To mitigate this risk it is very important that we start reducing our emissions now. That is why the government is determined to pass the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in this sitting period. The costs of further delay are unacceptable.

The International Energy Agency predicts it will cost an additional $500 billion to cut global emissions for each year that global action is delayed. That is of course due to the increasing costs of adaptation that will occur and of the investment that will be needed in mitigation and abatement technology. The chairman of Shell Australia, Russell Caplan, recently made this observation about the issues concerning delay. He indicated that further delay:

…  would create a climate of continuing uncertainty for industry and potentially delay the massive investments that are required …

This is a problem that we are dealing with and that the business community is dealing with. This is why the government are working hard in good faith negotiations with the opposition to try and secure passage of this important legislation. It is also why the government announced yesterday that we will agree to exclude agricultural emissions from the CPRS indefinitely as part of a package agreed with the opposition. In addition, the government indicated that we would consider a range of ways in which the agriculture sector can reduce its emissions, including by being able to generate offsetting credits. These are very significant statements of policy; ones that the government have made in their determination to see a solution achieved. The National Farmers Federation is out today, along with other farming groups, supporting and welcoming these important moves.

It is now time that we came together and passed this extremely important reform. It is time to get on with taking action on climate change. I call upon members of the opposition to take responsibility in this respect. Support emissions reductions in our economy. Support the government’s efforts internationally. Rise above your internal squabbling, act in the interests of the Australian people and support the CPRS.