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Tuesday, 10 November 2015
Page: 8145


Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (16:33): I, too, rise to speak against this urgency motion of the Greens which is supported by Labor. I would note that this is yet another example of the Greens' and Labor's hyperbole—in fact, rhetoric—and simple denial of the facts. What we hear is talk of plagues, pestilence, floods and droughts. But the fact is that this government's policies are working. Despite saying that they support this motion, the ALP still provides no credible alternative in any way.

As the minister has just said, this government does what it promises. We are the 12th-largest economy in the world and are responsible for only 1.5 per cent of global emissions. In fact, our emissions reduction target will see Australia reduce our emissions by up to 52 per cent per capita by 2030, which is the largest of any developed nation. Far from the denial of the facts by those opposite, this is a significant fact and it is something that is being delivered.

It is a bit sad that those opposite just cannot stand it when those of us on this side actually have credible environmental policies. This government's environmental policies demonstrably are working, without destroying our economy. This is in stark contrast to the previous ALP and Greens government. This government is ensuring that Australia pulls its weight on the international stage when it comes to mitigating the effects of climate change. We are doing it without increasing the cost to household electricity bills or destroying our currently transitioning economy. We are achieving real and significant emissions reductions at one per cent of the cost of Labor's and the Greens' carbon tax.

Let us have a look at this a bit further, because, under the carbon tax of Labor and the Greens, Australia would actually have experienced a rise in carbon emissions. I will say that again: under the previous government's policy, Australia was on track for an increase in carbon emissions, from 578 million tonnes to 621 million tonnes by 2020. The sheer stupidity of all of this is that the previous government's increase in emissions would have come at a cost to our economy of at least $9 billion—$9 billion to actually increase carbon emissions in this country.

Coupled with the carbon tax debacle were the previous governments other many flip-flops and failures in actually implementing environmental policy. Let us remember: they scrapped solar projects; they botched the integration of renewable energy into the grid; they wasted millions of dollars on stop-start funding for so-called green initiatives before they even got off the ground.

In complete contrast, this government is successfully implementing sensible and sustainable environmental policies which demonstrably are making a difference. Our emissions reduction target, as I have said, is 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. It is credible and it is achievable, and it is also working. With this target, the government is actively engaging in international negotiations on climate change—in particular, at the forthcoming 2015 Paris conference in December. This government's practical and realistic climate change policies and emissions reduction target are actually working. Direct Action—'action' means actually doing something and not just planning and implementing failed and botched programs.

What does this mean for Australia. At a fraction of the cost of Labor's carbon tax, we secured Australia's largest emissions reduction commitment ever in the first Emissions Reduction Fund auction, in April 2015. We contracted 47 million tonnes of reduced emissions, at $13.95 a tonne. This was backed by Australian businesses. There are now more than 500 projects currently registered under the Emissions Reduction Fund and we expect this success to continue. The second Emissions Reduction Fund auction was held last week, and the government is looking forward to the announcement shortly by the Clean Energy Regulator of the results. But I am absolutely confident that they will be just as successful as the first round, if not more so.

This is proving to be one of the most effective systems in the world for actually reducing emissions. Other countries—so it is not just us—are looking to what we are doing and are now implementing Direct Action style approaches to reduce emissions, based on our example. In fact, the World Bank—not some dodgy organisation but the World Bank itself—recently launched a $100 million reverse auction that is similar to this government's Emissions Reductions Fund setup.

This policy has been the coalition's position for five years. We have been consistent and firmly resolute in what we think will work for this country. Contrast that with those opposite. The previous government has had five different policies in a little under five years. The Leader of the Opposition now cannot make up his mind. First, he promised to abolish the carbon tax. Then he voted to keep it. Now he wants to bring it back and see electricity prices and the cost of living again skyrocket for no discernible benefit to the environment and to carbon emissions.

Even worse, I am sorry to say, is the policy of the Greens. Without any thought for how it would actually work in the real world and be implementable, they want emissions reductions of 60 to 80 per cent by 2030. I cannot believe that this could possibly be achieved or is even remotely realistic, and we have yet to see any plans on how this would actually be implemented. This afternoon in this chamber with the debate on the blocking of the Carmichael mine we heard another example of this ideological blindness. The practical implication of this is that India in the foreseeable future so desperately needs coal-fired power plants to help millions of its people to get out of poverty. By blocking this mine, with our much cleaner coal, India will be forced to go to other nations to get significantly dirtier coal that will produce higher emissions and greater pollution in a country that desperately needs less of both. Again, it is just simply madness.

Their extraordinary record on coal is no better than their record on policies for carbon reduction. Between the two of them, Labor and the Greens paid $5.5 billion to brown coal generators and did not impose any obligations to reduce emissions. I will repeat that, because it is quite extraordinary: they paid $5.5 billion to Australian brown coal generators without imposing any obligation to reduce emissions. It is unfathomable policy.

Compare this mind-boggling track record with our record in government. Our Direct Action policies—as in 'action', which is actually doing something that is working—are ensuring we reduce emissions without increasing the cost of living for ordinary Australians. We are providing $15 billion in support for renewable energy and other innovative technologies to lower emissions, and we are doing it without imposing a carbon tax or imposing significant and unnecessary burdens on our economy.

We are establishing the Office of Climate Change and Renewables Innovation to bring a new focus to the role of innovation in the future of environmental energy technology. I am also pleased to note that the new Office of Climate Change and Renewables Innovation will streamline existing agencies to deliver more efficient government support to renewable energy.

Australia has a strong and very proud record on renewable energy, and this government remains committed to improving on it. We are supporting Australian households to reduce their electricity bills by investing in rooftop solar energy. In fact, Australia today has the highest proportion of households with rooftop solar panels, at about 15 per cent. To put that in context, one of the world leaders in solar panel production, Germany, has about 3.7 per cent only.

This government has a policy that is actually working. As much as it pains those on the other side to acknowledge it, this government does actually have effective environmental and climate change policies. The facts are very clear—we do. In contrast, Labor's plan has been costed at $85 billion— (Time expired)