Mar 6, 2006

Blueprint Number 6 – Protecting Australia from the Threat of Climate Change



6 March 2006

Only a Beazley Labor Government will provide the national leadership needed to safeguard Australia’s environment and protect our prosperity into the future.

Labor’s Blueprint Number Six: Protecting Australia from the Threat of Climate Change sets out Federal Labor’s practical measures to tackle climate change.

The Howard Government has spent 10 years in denial on climate change – failing to protect Australia’s environmental and economic future.

Australia needs a government that puts the preservation of our environment before its own political self-preservation. Action. Not denial. Not delay.

Only a nation-building Beazley Labor Government will act to save Australian icons like the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu which experts predict will soon be devastated by the ravages of climate change.

Just as importantly, protecting Australia from the threat of climate change also protects Australia’s future prosperity. The Prime Minister’s failure of leadership means a failure to address the threat to our economy posed by climate change.

Yesterday’s choice between sustainability and prosperity is a false one.

A Beazley Labor Government will work towards a long-term national target of 60 per cent cuts to Australia’s year 2000 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

I also re-affirm Labor’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, which John Howard refuses to ratify. John Howard just follows America’s lead on climate change.

Underpinning these global goals, Labor will implement a range of practical measures to boost our economy while protecting our future, including:

· Considering expanding the First Home Owners’ Grant with top-up grants for improving the energy rating of the home;

· Working with all levels of government to make five star energy efficiency mandatory for new homes;

· Work with energy utilities to establish plans to encourage householders to cut energy use. For example, utility companies could finance a solar water heater, with it paid off by users through the electricity bill.

The next big nation building reform is to transform today’s energy industry into tomorrow’s energy economy. It’s a transformation only Labor can lead.

The only environmentally sustainable energy policy for Australia is one which makes the tough decisions to invest in two great transformations – transforming the coal industry into a cleaner coal industry – and transforming our specialist solar sector into a world beating solar industry as big as coal is today.

Major reforms I am considering for a Beazley Labor Government include changes in research and development, depreciation of capital equipment purchases and the provision of a fixed energy research allowance.

Labor will also ensure Australia seizes the economic benefits of the global trillion dollar industry in carbon-friendly technologies and emissions trading.

Key initiatives will include:

· Increasing the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target to support growth of clean energy;

· Building a national carbon trading regime;

· Focusing Australian research on developing renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal energy – and commercialising them;

· Encouraging industry to take up new and cleaner technologies – like clean coal and geo-sequestration, and combined cycle natural gas;

· Rebuilding the CSIRO and guaranteeing its integrity;

· Establishing a National Sustainability Council to monitor Australia’s performance against sustainability targets.

A Beazley Labor Government will work with our public institutions to ensure they lead the way in tackling climate change. For example, a Beazley Labor Government will work to ensure that Australia’s 10,000 schools are solar schools.

And I issue this challenge to the Australian car industry: put a value-for-money green car on the road, and a Beazley Labor Government will put it in the Commonwealth fleet, and work with State and private fleets to guarantee a market for these cutting edge environmentally friendly Australian cars.

Finally, a Beazley Labor Government will not pursue nuclear power in Australia.

The economics of nuclear power simply don’t stack up here. We have significant gas, coal and renewable energy reserves and do not have a solution for the disposal of low level nuclear waste, let alone waste from nuclear power stations.

Developing nuclear power now would have ramifications for Australia’s security. Such a move could result in our regional neighbours fearing we will use it militarily.

What is clear is that if John Howard wins the next election he will bring nuclear power to Australia.

Labor will not go down this path. A Beazley Labor Government will focus on the practical measures that deliver economic and environmental stability while protecting our national security.