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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11526

Mr CONROY (Shortland) (18:21): I congratulate the member for Mayo on putting forward this very important topic. I'm going to start by saying that one of the premises of the motion was unfortunate, which is that the government's target was in some way adequate as a contribution to taking on climate change. The sad fact is that the government's climate change target of a 26 per cent reduction on 2000 levels by 2030 is woefully inadequate. It does not represent Australia taking meaningful action. It does not represent Australia making a contribution commensurate with our part in the global challenge. It's wildly out of step with what comparative countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany or other countries in Europe and Canada are taking. What's even sadder is that the government won't even meet their own inadequate targets. The government's own figures show that our 2020 emissions will be the same as those in 2000. Let me repeat that: our emissions in 2020 will be the same as Australia's emissions in 2000, and our 2030 emissions, based on current projections, will be only five per cent below 2005 levels. That is a damning indictment of this government's lack of commitment to taking action on climate change.

In fact, carbon pollution has risen in the economy for three consecutive years. Last year, it rose by 1.5 per cent alone. The only reason we will be meeting the 2020 Kyoto targets is the visionary policies of the Beattie-Bligh Labor governments to take action around land clearing in Queensland and Labor's carbon price, which in two years alone reduced carbon pollution by 14 million tonnes. They are the only reasons we will meet our 2020 targets. As I said, this government has no plan on how we'll meet 2030 targets. Their Emissions Reduction Fund is a dog. Half of the abatement isn't meaningful abatement, and we are seeing projects having to hand back their revenue. They have had six energy policies in two years; in fact, they've had four energy policies in 14 days. We had NEG 1, NEG 2 and NEG 3 and then the current energy minister's basic abandonment of any emissions reduction policy.

This government isn't committed to taking action on climate change, but I'm proud to say that the Labor opposition is. We've got a commitment to reducing emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. It is based on the best evidence from the Climate Change Authority that that is the appropriate level of emissions reduction for Australia, and we've got a solid plan to hit that. We released our policy in energy last week, with overwhelming stakeholder support, and we'll announce our policies in the other sectors to achieve that target. Labor will have a genuine alternative—a policy that will not only cut emissions in the energy sector but will also cut the cost of electricity, because renewable energy is the cheapest form of new energy, and will drive up to 71,000 new jobs.

In the time remaining I caution people who are passionate about this area to not repeat the mistakes of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, where a group of people in the Greens political party pursued policy purity and political opportunism at the expense of taking concrete action. The five Greens senators put the perfect ahead of the possible and voted with Tony Abbott, the member for Warringah, and the luddites in the Liberal Party to defeat the CPRS. They were the sole difference between the CPRS getting up or not, and that led to the nine years of climate wars which have continued to this very day. Think about it for a second: if the Greens had been willing to compromise and say, 'Here's an ETS that we can build upon, which will be effective and is supported by key stakeholders,' it would have been implemented in 2009 and would have demonstrated to the world that the sky would not fall in. We wouldn't have had comments about Whyalla being wiped out or comments from the member for New England about $100 lamb roasts. We wouldn't have had that silliness. We would have proved to the Australian people that we can take meaningful action to climate change and we could have scaled up from there. Instead they put their petty political self-interest ahead, and we're paying the price now. I urge those same people not to grandstand again—to go not for the perfect but instead for something achievable and practical that we can build upon, which is Labor's concrete plan to take action on climate change.