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Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Page: 11466

Mr LYONS (Bass) (19:09): I rise to speak in this cognate debate on the clean energy bills. The Gillard government has developed a comprehensive plan to move to a clean energy future. We, unlike those on the other side of the chamber, accept the science on climate change. The Liberal Party have been scaremongering around the country. The Leader of the Opposition, the member for Warringah, is a risk to jobs and the economy. We need stability and a plan for the future.

Our plan is to move to a market price, whilst the Liberals have the same target as us but prefer instead to tax working families and give to the polluters, including multinationals—that is, take from battlers and give to the rich. Job opportunities in science and engineering and in building trades will open up as existing businesses move to clean energy and invest in new technology to generate less pollution. This is a great opportunity for this country. In fact, the Climate Institute research paper found that about 31,000 jobs could be created in regional Australia by 2030 if a price is put on carbon and clean energy policies are put into place. Climate Institute Chief Executive John Connor said:

We don’t want to be lumbered with the energy sources and jobs of the 20th century, while the 21st century charges on without us.

Australia generates more carbon pollution per person than any developed country, including the United States. We produce significantly more pollution per person than India and China. This is a problem we can no longer ignore. The world is moving to a clean energy future and we will be at the forefront. Some constituents in my electorate have asked me why Australia has to be first, and I say, 'Well, we were up there with universal health care, super and opening up our economy, and we need to be first with carbon as well.' I explain that countries around the world are already taking action on climate change: 89 countries, representing 80 per cent of global emissions and 90 per cent of the world's economy, have already pledged to take action on climate change. This is a tremendous commitment.

The world is shifting and accepting the science. Yet those opposite continue with their criticisms and scaremongering. And, yes, we have all heard the member for Warringah say he will rescind the carbon price if elected. He will also reverse household assistance. He would prefer to tax Australian families and hand the money to big business. The Australian Labor Party will look after vulnerable and working people; the Liberals will take from those least able to pay and give to the rich multinationals. We know the Liberals will cut benefits to the vulnerable because they have form—look at their history. They voted against the jobs that were created by the BER.

What I find very interesting is that the vast majority of Liberal coalition members have not mentioned their direct action policy in this important debate. Is this because they are embarrassed about their policy? Is it because they would rather play cheap politics and hoodwink the Australian public about the government's plan? Is it because they do not believe the science and know that the Liberal Party will never action the policy if they do win government?

This is an exciting reform and we have the support of many scientists, leaders and stakeholders. The President of the European Commission, Mr Jose Barroso, welcomed the clean energy future package, and I quote:

Australia's decision to put a price on carbon emissions is in our view an important step both environmentally and economically, because it is in our European experience the most cost efficient way to reduce emissions and also a great green business opportunity.

The Uniting Church of Australia has also weighed in, with the Victorian and Tasmanian branch welcoming the initiative. UCA President Reverend Alistair Macrae said that strong and swift action on climate change is needed and that this is a historic moment for Australia. Dr John Hewson said:

…this is the most important thing we can do for our nation this century—

Interesting—yet those opposite continue to play political games on this critical issue. Tony Abbott's carbon plan would send ordinary taxpayers' money direct to the biggest polluters, costing every household an average of $1,300. Yet, as I mentioned before, those on the seats opposite have been deathly quiet. This is a real difference between the Labor Party and the Liberals. Labor look after the vulnerable and create jobs for the future, whilst the Liberals look after the rich. I ask those opposite to get on board, to think about Australia's future and to support these bills. (Time expired)