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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 197

Climate Change


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (14:18): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Senator Cormann. I ask: does the minister agree with the Philippines delegate to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Mr Yeb Sano, who said after supertyphoon Haiyan, 'Science tells us that, simply, climate change will mean more intense tropical storms' and 'What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness'?


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:18): I thank Senator Milne for that question. The Abbott government has not, and never has, questioned the science of climate change.

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator CORMANN: We are committed to appropriate action on climate change—

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! I realise it is the first question time since the election and some people are a little bit excited, but the minister is entitled to be heard in silence. When there is silence we will proceed—simple as that.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Milne has asked a question; she is entitled to have her answer—

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: On my left!

Senator Cameron interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Doug Cameron. When there is silence we will proceed. Senator Cormann, continue.

Senator CORMANN: Thank you, Mr President. I am really pleased that between Senator Milne and myself we have been able to lift the spirits of Her Majesty's most loyal opposition. Let me repeat: this government has not and never has disputed the science of climate change. We are committed to effective action on climate change, but we understand, like the Australian people understand, that the Labor-Greens carbon tax, the biggest economy-wide carbon tax in the world, is not effective action on climate change. We on this side of the chamber understand, and the people across Australia understand and have voted that way at the last election, that your carbon tax, Labor's carbon tax, imposed on the Australian people by the Labor Party and the Greens, just pushes up the cost of electricity, pushes up the cost of living, pushes up the cost of doing business, makes Australian businesses less competitive than businesses overseas, shifts emissions to other parts of the world along with economic activity and jobs, shifts emissions to other parts of world where for the same amount of economic output those emissions will be higher than they otherwise would have been. The Labor-Green—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cormann, resume your seat. I'll give Senator Cormann the call when there is silence. Senator Cormann.

Senator CORMANN: The Labor-Green carbon tax arguably makes climate change worse, not better, because it shifts emissions to other parts of the world where for the same amount of economic output they would be higher than they would have been if that production had happened more environmentally efficiently here in Australia. What we are committed to is to reducing emissions in Australia in a way that is good for the environment and good for the economy.










Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (14:22): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for avoiding the point of the question and going to the cost of living. I ask him again: is there a connection between extreme weather events and climate change?

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! I am consistent on this! Those on my left—I am consistent: I do not call the minister until there is silence.



Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:23): I answered that question in my first sentence in saying that the Australian government does not dispute the science of climate change. There is nothing else really to add to that answer.


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (14:23): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Quite clearly, the government is refusing to answer the question as to the link between extreme weather and climate change. So I ask the minister: is a future when super typhoons become a way of life a future acceptable to you and the Abbott government?

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Just wait a minute—it applies on both sides. There has to be silence so that the minister can be heard.



Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (14:23): It might surprise the chamber and it might surprise Senator Milne: I am not a scientist. I am a minister as part of the Abbott government. The Abbott government is committed to effective action on climate change. We will implement the policy that we took to the last election to address climate change in an effective way that is good for the environment and good for the economy, and which does not hurt families, pensioners, workers and businesses across Australia without actually making any difference whatsoever—without actually making things arguably worse than when we started.