Oct 16, 2017

Private Members’ Business – Climate Change

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (18:44): I’m pleased to support the motion moved by the member for Moreton, because it is critical that this parliament and, indeed, the world act on climate change. We know that 2014, 2015 and 2016 were the hottest years on record. We know that heatwaves are starting earlier. Tragically, we know that storms, hurricanes and cyclones are becoming more frequent and intense. We know that the Great Barrier Reef has had two bleaching events over the last 18 months. We know that we’ve just had, as a country, the warmest winter on record; average maximum temperatures around Australia reached nearly two degrees Celsius above average. The nation also experienced our second driest June on record. Indeed, more than 260 heat and low-rainfall records were broken during the winter months. Australia’s average winter temperatures have increased by around one degree Celsius since 1910. Last summer, Sydney had its hottest summer on record, with a mean temperature 2.8 degrees Celsius above average; Brisbane had its hottest summer on record, with a mean temperature 1.7 degrees above average; Canberra had its hottest summer on record, with daytime temperatures and recorded temperatures of at least 35 degrees Celsius on 18 days. Adelaide experienced its hottest Christmas Day in 70 years, at 41.3 degrees Celsius. Moree in regional New South Wales experienced 54 consecutive days of temperatures 35 degrees Celsius or above, a record for the state.

When you have all of that evidence on top of the scientists telling us that we need to act on anthropogenic climate change—climate change caused by human activity—then I find it extraordinary that you wouldn’t act, even if you question all of it, under the precautionary principle, for the same reason that you take out insurance. And yet where the government’s at was exemplified by the person who appears to be leading it on climate change, Tony Abbott, who went to London to argue that higher temperatures might even be beneficial because far more people die in cold snaps. It was an extraordinarily arrogant statement to make. And what the science tells us isn’t that every extreme weather event—like Hurricane Katrina or the disaster in Puerto Rico or the increased number of cyclones that we’ve seen in North Queensland—is because of climate change. What you can say, though, is that, when you have them occurring more often, with the intensity being stronger, then there’s something going on here.

That is why this motion is so important. It calls for action. It points out that the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility shouldn’t be used to subsidise a venture such as Adani, that that is a distortion in the market, that it is an intervention, that it is an admission that the project doesn’t stack up commercially. That’s what that is. We know that the future is in renewables, like the Kidston project in the old Kidston Gold mine or like the Kennedy Energy Park or like the pumped hydro I visited with the member for Kennedy. There are 537,000 solar panels in the first stage of the Kidston project—an exciting project that will produce jobs and provide 24-hour supply because of the pumped hydro. Australia’s future is in renewables.