Nov 26, 2018

Private Members Business – Climate Change – Monday, 26 November 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (18:15): I rise to support this motion, and I congratulate the member for Mayo on the comprehensive nature of the proposition that she’s put before the parliament this evening. It is common sense. We know that the precautionary principle means that we need to act on climate change; and that the sooner we act, the cheaper that action will be and the more benefit we will gain from that action. I’ve been here a while and, for a time, I was the environment and climate change spokesperson for the party. I wrote the policy with Kim Beazley, the climate change blueprint, back in 2006. We campaigned for that blueprint, which included an emissions trading scheme and a price on carbon. It included the ratification of the Kyoto protocol. It included measures to improve sustainability in housing and in transport. It included the policy supporting the Renewable Energy Target being lifted to 20 per cent by 2020. At the time we adopted that policy, the target was just two per cent, so it was a tenfold increase—an expression of the faith that we had in human ingenuity to develop technology that would make a real difference in terms of reducing our emissions, improving productivity and creating jobs at the same time.

It is important to remember that in 2007 John Howard changed his mind before that election—there had been a bipartisan position supporting an emissions trading scheme in the lead-up to that election. But, unfortunately, the coalition changed its mind when we proposed the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2009. It still would have been carried, had the Greens political party voted for that proposition in the Senate, and, if that had happened, I’m convinced that there would be a price on carbon still in place today that would have been doing its job and that would have made that transition to a clean energy future so much easier. The problem that we had wasn’t just that the climate change sceptics got control of the coalition under the former Prime Minister and member for Warringah. It’s that they became market sceptics as well, and opposed any market based mechanisms to promote change.

Since the change of government, we’ve seen the action on climate change go backwards. We’ve seen a government that has been unable to come up with a comprehensive energy plan. They had the emissions intensity scheme, then they asked the Chief Scientist to produce a policy and he came up with the clean energy target, which they abandoned, and then they had various versions of the National Energy Guarantee and, after it going through the party room not once but twice, they then abandoned their own policy. Now this government doesn’t have an energy policy, going forward. The fact is that the private sector and the energy sector are saying that what they want is certainty. They need policy certainty so as to promote that investment, but they’re not getting it from this government. They will have it from Labor. We’ll put on the table our proposal to be prepared to support the NEG and negotiate with the government. We’ve put on the table our commitment to a 45 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030, net zero emissions by 2050 and 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

The fact is that we are the party of the future in terms of government and we’re prepared to work with people of goodwill, such as the member for Mayo. I note the newly-elected member for Wentworth in the chamber this evening. We’re prepared to work with people of goodwill who understand that climate change shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It should be something that the whole parliament unites together on in order to achieve change. We’re prepared to work cooperatively with members of the coalition of goodwill as well, because this is an issue that should be beyond politics; it’s an issue about our future.