Speech to Walk Against Warming Rally
4 November 2006
Martin Place, Sydney
I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners. Indigenous Australians understood the connection between land and human activity and there is much we can learn from them.
Climate change is here right now.
Our dams are dropping while sea levels are rising.
When a Newspoll was published this week showing 92% of Australians thought the Howard Government was not doing enough on climate change, the Government dismissed those respondents as “latte drinkers”. This crowd must drink a lot of coffee.
John Howard dismissed it as an “online poll”, then had to come into Parliament at one minute to five o’clock and apologise for misleading the House.
We have a Prime Minister who refuses to apologise for the stolen generations, but doesn’t hesitate to apologise to pollsters!
The Howard Government is frozen in time while the globe warms around it.
The Stern Report is a strong warning of a clear and present danger, not to just to our environment but to our economy if we don’t act.
What the Report says is that early action will be far cheaper – perhaps twenty times cheaper.
We can’t afford to wait any longer.
The only way we will tackle climate change in Australia is with a change of government.
On 27 September John Howard said he wasn’t interested in what might happen in fifty years time.
Climate Change is the greatest challenge facing Australia and the global community, but we have a government that refuses to take action.
John Howard has been in denial for 10 years, and now pushes one off measures – which are only possible, each and every one of them, due to state government renewable energy programs!
The Howard Government is more than twice as keen on self-promotion and propaganda than on addressing climate change.
Since 1996, the Howard Government has spent over $1.5 billion on Government advertising, but only spent $670 million on climate change programs.
Under John Howard, it’s self-promotion first, then daylight second – with action on climate change in last place.
Today they are out there again promoting John Howard’s nuclear fantasy.
They have got to answer two fundamental questions. Where will the nuclear reactors go and where will the nuclear waste go? Australians want to live with a solar panel on their roof, not a nuclear reactor next door!
The Howard Government had a shocker of a week, with contradictory plans every day as they struggled for relevance in a world that has passed them by.
It reached a low point when Tourism Minister Fran Bailey promoted a shade cloth over the Great Barrier Reef to stop coral bleaching from climate change.
How bizarre and impractical! It epitomised a Government looking for political cover to hide the fact it has no plan to tackle climate change.
The Great Barrier Reef stretches over 2,000 kilometres along the Queensland coast and covers more than 344,000 square kilometres.
That’s a lot of shadecloth!
What next – zinc cream on the coral!
For all the thrashing around we’ve seen from the Howard Government this week I’ve got a suggestion for them they haven’t thought of – lower our emissions!
The Howard Government can’t come up with a serious, comprehensive response because John Howard doesn’t think climate change is real.
Australia needs a change of Government to deal with climate change.
Kim Beazley and Labor will take action.
Labor will pursue a long term target of 60% reduction in emissions by 2050.
Labor will join the global community and ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
Labor will give a price signal by having a national emissions trading scheme which can be linked to other schemes. This will encourage investment in clean coal technology and renewables that we need.
Labor will significantly increase our renewable energy target.
Labor will support renewables not reactors.
Labor will introduce a climate change trigger in Commonwealth Environmental legislation.
Labor will make every school a solar school.
Labor will support a green car being built for Australia.
Labor will ensure that transport and sustainable cities are integral to the plan to avoid dangerous climate change.
The Stern Review makes clear that unless economic mechanisms are put in place which encourage investment in clean coal technology and renewables we won’t get the transformation to a carbon constrained economy that we need.
Australia needs a whole of Government approach to avoid dangerous climate change.
Labor’s systematic climate change plan offers Australia a way to avoid dangerous climate change.
We must take action not just to protect the environment, but to protect jobs and the economy.
The only future John Howard’s interested in is his own.
I congratulate all of you here today, who are walking not just for today’s generation, but for future generations to come.