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Tuesday, 15 September 2015
Page: 6803

Climate Change


Senator DI NATALE (VictoriaLeader of the Australian Greens) (14:16): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Abetz. Upon deposing Prime Minister Abbott last night, the new Prime Minister Turnbull promised 'a thoroughly Liberal government committed to freedom, the individual and the market'. Given that one of the biggest economic challenges for Australia is the threat of global warming, and given that this government's policy to address global warming—Direct Action—stands in direct opposition to the principles of a market based mechanism, will the government now change tack and support the only sensible, economically rational and sane approach to tackling global warming and now adopt a price on pollution?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:17): The government continues to oppose a carbon tax. We will be going to the next election campaigning against the Labor-Greens proposal to put in such a policy, having experienced it in the past, knowing how corrosive it is for household budgets and how destructive it is for Australian jobs. So, we will not be going down that track. The new Prime Minister has indicated that he fully supports the approach taken by the Minister for the Environment, Mr Hunt, and Ms Bishop, the foreign minister—the proposal we will be taking to Paris. That is a plan that is workable and is affordable, without the sorts of destructive consequences that are inherent in the Labor-Greens policy—a message that they should have gleaned from the Australian people after the 2013 election but which they have not gleaned, which they have not received. Therefore, I would invite the Australian people to remind the Greens and the Labor Party at the next election of the importance of hammering home to the Labor Party and the Greens that the Australian people will not tolerate a carbon tax which is so destructive to Australian family household budgets and also to jobs. The Greens Senate leader can be confident that the government will retain the course that has been set in this area, which is balanced, which is sensible—

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock.

Senator Whish-Wilson: Mr President, a point of order: the question related to a price on carbon. Senator Abetz is talking only about a carbon tax. He has not addressed the question that was asked.

The PRESIDENT: Also, the minister was asked whether the government will now change tack, and I think the minister has been very relevant to the question. Minister, had you concluded your answer?

Senator ABETZ: Yes, I had.






Senator DI NATALE (VictoriaLeader of the Australian Greens) (14:19): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Given that the new Prime Minister said he would only lead a party that was as committed to action on climate change as he is, and given that this government's targets are half of those that are required to tackle catastrophic global warming, will the government review its targets, or were the new Prime Minister's words just empty, hollow rhetoric and more of the same?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:20): The government will not review the targets, because the government is setting a course for Australia to reduce its CO2 emissions at the highest level of any country per capita. We are reducing at a higher level than any other country on a per capita basis. That is something that the Australian Greens know to be fact yet refuse to admit, because they are so committed to their extreme ideology that no matter how good the coalition government is in delivering in this area it will continue to deny the truth, which is that we are delivering well and truly beyond our task on a per capita basis—keeping in mind that we provide cheap foodstuffs to many other countries in the world and provide good, clean coal to many other countries in the world.


Senator DI NATALE (VictoriaLeader of the Australian Greens) (14:21): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Given that the new Prime Minister said that we need economic leadership in this country—and central to that has to be tackling the issue of catastrophic global warming—how can he be taken seriously when this government's policy to address climate change is regarded by every mainstream economist as a joke?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:21): The Australian Greens talking about mainstream: I think I have heard it all now! Really, for the Australian Greens to pretend that they represent the mainstream is a new revelation. I like the ambition of the new Leader of the Australian Greens to get the Australian Greens somewhere into the mainstream, but I have news for him: there are many economic commentators who have seen the rationale of the government's approach and have seen the very importance of us taking our task seriously by reducing per capita emissions by 50 per cent—the highest per capita reduction of any country in the world. Yet that still is not enough for the so-called mainstream Greens. Well, really, what do you want? I think we heard a question— (Time expired)