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Thursday, 26 November 2015
Page: 13919

Mr CONROY (Charlton) (15:46): I rise with great pleasure to talk about this very important MPI and to respond to some of the mendacity we saw from the Minister for the Environment's contribution. It was an incredible contribution because of the falsehoods prosecuted in the speech. For example, he claimed an astonishing outcome, which is the revision in Australia's cumulative abatement task from 2013 to 2020 from 1,335 megatonnes of CO2 to 236 megatonnes. He was claiming credit for the downward revision in projections over the next seven years of around 1,000 megatonnes. His department's own papers give the reasons for the downward revisions in these projections. Projections have fallen:

… due to a range of factors including:

lower electricity demand …;

worse than expected agricultural conditions due to drought;

lower manufacturing output due to industrial closures;

weaker growth expectations for local coal production due to a fall in international coal prices; …

The minister is claiming credit for a revision in our abatement task because they have killed manufacturing, particularly the automotive industry; there is a drought on, reducing cattle production; consumers are responding to higher electricity prices by reducing electricity demand; and coal production is not as strong as expected because of falling coal prices. This is his great environmental policy: destroying manufacturing, a drought and falling coal prices! The mendacity of the Minister for the Environment is that somehow this is going to solve our environmental problems. This revision in our abatement task will cause the 2020 minus 5 per cent target to be relatively easily achieved.

Yet, even with that easy task, most of the lifting is not done by their own dog of a policy; it is done by other policies. For example, 35 per cent of the target will be achieved by carryover units from Kyoto period 1, and 47 per cent of the abatement task will be achieved by projection improvements—more industrial closures, the drought and changes in the LRET. Only a quarter of the abatement task will be done by Direct Action, if you totally ignore the issues around additionality, which are at the heart of the problem with the Emissions Reduction Fund, where a third of the money went to operations up to 10 years old and half of the money went to paying farmers not to clear land they had already promised not to clear. That is how ridiculous their policy is. Yet it is only doing one quarter of the abatement task. In fact, if you look at the original 2008 abatement task, the abatement contribution of Direct Action is 6.9 per cent of that huge sum. That shows what a dog of a policy it is. It is a dog of a policy, implemented by a minister who has given up any conviction and any commitment to principle in a naked attempt to hold on to his cabinet post. Despite all that, the government's own projections in their own document show that they will fail the task in 2020. The government's own projections show that, in 2020, emissions in Australia will be 17 per cent above 2000 levels. This is from official government documents released this year. Their only hope of getting anywhere under 17 per cent is their dog of a policy, Direct Action. Electricity emissions are projected to grow by one-third under them. That is how bad they are about controlling climate change.

By contrast, under Labor, emissions fell by eight per cent and emissions in the electricity sector fell by 20 per cent. So the truth is I am proud to be discussing this climate change MPI. I am proud to be representing the Labor Party that stands up for taking concrete action on climate change. Those on the other side stand by bizarre and pathetic accounting tricks, where somehow the drought is a good thing, closing the automotive sector is a good thing and a declining coal price is a good thing because they mean that their abatement task is easier. Yet they still will not reach it, because their policy is a joke. Their policy is Stalinist control and command of the economy at its worst. It is paying polluters to pollute. Their policy will be condemned by history, and, unfortunately, future Labor governments will have the heavy burden of restructuring the economy, decarbonising industry and decarbonising the economy to compete in the 21st century in a low-carbon industrial revolution. Those on the other side laugh because, ultimately, they do not care about combating climate change. They just care about naked political opportunism. I am proud to say I stand for a party that will be applauded by history. The coalition will condemned by history because they do not take climate change seriously. (Time expired)