For the record: Labor Members of Parliament defending the clean energy package in 2013

Speeches by Labor Members in the House of Representatives standing up for climate action and supporting an emissions trading scheme. Have a look particularly at Dr Andrew Leigh exposing the Liberal hypocrites – Tony Abbott included – who supported carbon pricing in the past but vote against climate action now.

Bill Shorten | Mark Butler | Andrew Leigh | Matt Thistlethwaite | Pat Conroy | Kelvin Thomson | Shayne Neumann | Jenny Macklin | Anthony Albanese | Julie Owens | Warren Snowdon | Mark Drefyus | Tanya Plibersek| Gai Brodtmann | Jill Hall | Stephen Jones | Graham Perrett | Sharon Bird | Melissa Parke | Jim Chalmers | Mark Butler | Andrew Giles | Alannah Mactiernan | Justine Elliott | Tony Zappia | Andrew Leigh | Mark Butler

Links courtesy of www.openaustralia.org 

Monday 18 November 2013

Bill Shorten

Labor will take action to reduce the amount of carbon pollution being emitted into our environment. Those led by Tony Abbott do not believe in climate change and its adverse impact upon the environment.

Leaders across the rest of the world are acting. Real leaders take real action.

Summary: Labor is voting for our children and grandchildren. Carbon pollution is changing our weather and harming our environment. The scientists confirm this. Carbon pollution will harm our economy. The economists confirm this.

Labor wants a market based mechanism on climate change. Tony Abbott wants to dismantle any effective action. Labor wants polluters to pay. Tony Abbott’s “direct action” means taxpayers paying polluters.

Tony Abbott’s government has abolished the Climate Commission; has no science minister; will cut a quarter of the CSIRO; and wants to get rid of the Climate Authority. Tony Abbott’s sham “direct action” will not work. There is not enough land in Australia and not enough trees to plant our way out of climate change.

Mark Butler

The Coalition policy will not work and will cost households more

Summary: It is already Labor policy to terminate the “carbon tax”, or fixed price on carbon pollution, as we move to implement a full Emissions Trading Scheme. This is in the existing legislation introduced by Labor – effective from July 2015. We took to the election a policy to bring this forward to July 2014.

But the Government’s Bills don’t just terminate the “carbon tax”. The Government’s Bills remove any legislated cap at all on how much carbon pollution gets put into our air. They remove the framework for an emissions trading scheme – where business works out the cheapest ways to meet the cap on pollution. They abolish the independent Climate Change Authority and its advice on Australia’s Renewable Energy Target. They strip away support for successful renewable energy initiatives, with abolition of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and massive cuts to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. And they abolish the legislated tax cuts for households in future years put in place under Labor’s Household Assistance Package.

Tony Abbott’s “direct action” policy is nothing of the sort. It does not contain any direct measures like new emission standards and removes Labor’s direct support for renewable energy. As Malcolm Turnbull said:

Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing.

The science confiirms that the world is warming; the oceans are becoming more acidic; sea levels are rising and the number of heat waves is increasing. We can’t link climate change to any single event but climate change does mean more frequent and severe weather events overall – like droughts and bushfires.

An emissions trading scheme has been recognised around the world as the cheapest and the most effective way to drive down carbon pollution. The ability to trade pollution permits means that business works out the cheapest way to operate within the national pollution cap. The ETS is by far and away the most common model around the world employed to reduce carbon pollution.

The level of detail about the Emissions Reduction Fund is laughable. This carbon slush fund will end up paying polluters for highly speculative ideas that might never actually deliver. Experts tell us that soil carbon will be far more expensive and far less effective than Tony Abbott’s Government claims. Experts, including the CSIRO, have similarly rejected the assumptions made around reforestation.

Dr Andrew Leigh and continued

Australians believe in the science and they want a government that will act on climate change, a government that will listen to the scientists, listen to the economists and take action.

Summary: A string of Liberal members have spoken in favour of an ETS in the past – including Tony Abbott; Julie Bishop; Joe Hockey; Greg Hunt; Ian Macfarlane; Scott Morrison; Christopher Pyne; Andrew Robb and Malcolm Turnbull.

The member for Sturt, Christopher Pyne, told Sky Sunday Agenda on 27 June 2009:

Let’s not forget it was the opposition that first proposed an emissions trading scheme when we were in government. The idea that somehow the Liberal Party is opposed to an emissions trading scheme is quite frankly ludicrous.

 As Malcolm Turnbull said

the most efficient and effective way to cut emissions is by putting a price on carbon

Matt Thistlethwaite

The policy that the coalition took to the election was called direct action, a system of subsidies to companies, paid for by all of us through our taxes. Only those who get the subsidy will have the incentive to reduce their behaviour. Those who do not receive the subsidy will go on polluting in the same manner as they have in the past.

Pat Conroy

No other government in the world questions the science and no other Prime Minister calls the science ‘crap’. …

There has been a lot of discussion about international competitiveness, helping our industries. I can tell you: turning us into a rust belt economy while the rest of the world decarbonises will be a great disadvantage to our economy.

Summary: Internationally, action is occurring. Over one billion people already live in countries or provinces where some form of carbon pricing exists. By 2016, this will be over three billion people. The Coalition’s predictions of disaster from the carbon price have not come true. We have seen a 6.1 per cent fall in emissions from electricity generation over the last year, so a price on carbon works.

There is after all only one atmosphere, and a reduction in pollution anywhere in the world has the same environmental benefit.The coalition’s policy of prohibiting the trade of carbon permits with other countries is economic xenophobia.

It is worth quoting the member for Wentworth’s exact words: ‘Tony Abbott is putting a price on carbon, it’s just that the taxpayer is paying for it.”

Kelvin Thomson

At the very time when the signals from our climate are that we need to take more action to combat extreme weather, not less, it is extremely and deeply irresponsible of the Liberal government to abandon measures which are reducing carbon emissions.

Summary:  Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts. That climate change will load the dice in favour of more intense disasters is well established.

Industry groups have admitted that consumers will not get lower prices if the carbon price is repealed. Electricity prices have been rising faster than the CPI but this began long before the carbon price. Price rises have been driven by rapidly growing communities; by privatisations; and by gold plating of power infrastructure spending.

If members opposite are as genuine as they claim to be in their concern about the impact of rising electricity prices, then peg them. Call in the states, call in the power companies, and peg them to the CPI. I dare you.

A price on carbon is necessary but complementary measures are needed too. The Labor Government introduced a 20 percent Renewable Energy Target and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Other initiatives which should be considered have been identified by President Obama and by the Australian Conservation Foundation. Even limiting climate change to two degrees exposes Australia to huge risks and damage.

For Australia, warming of two to three degrees Celsius would result in 97 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef bleached every year; a 40 per cent reduction in livestock carrying capacity of native pasture systems; a five to 10 per cent increase in tropical cyclone wind speeds; and a 10 per cent increase in bushfire danger in many parts of the country.

Shayne Neumann 

If the member for Forde is so concerned about the electricity prices of Queensland, he should go to his mates in the LNP state government. They promised before the last state election that they would freeze electricity prices, but we have since seen them go up and up and up.

On this side of the chamber, we tend to believe NASA, the Bureau of Meteorology and the IPCC, not Andrew Bolt, Lord Monckton and Alan Jones.

On 30 October this year the Climate Change Authority published its comprehensive draft analysis of the caps and targets they believed Australia needed in order to take meaningful action on climate change. It is not going to happen under the coalition. According to the Climate Institute, more than 80 countries representing 80 per cent of global emissions are now committed to reducing carbon pollution. All major economies, including the US and China, are implementing policies to reduce emissions, drive clean energy investment and improve energy efficiency. Several developing nations, China, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and India amongst them, are following suit. Our No. 1 trading partner, China, has introduced a carbon price to an emissions trading scheme arrangement and at the time China indicated its wish to link its scheme to us. So did the Prime Minister of New Zealand—a conservative and a National—when he came to this place and spoke in this House.

Ultimately, we were looking to link our emissions trading scheme with the European Union’s 500 million to establish a common carbon price and a common carbon market with our major trading partners. The coalition’s legislation is a national embarrassment to our country and our region—an international embarrassment as well. They cannot even take the steps to go to conferences that deal with this issue. Many of those opposite will not accept the science. This is a very retrograde step by the coalition. Our children and their children will suffer. Our country will suffer. It is not the most environmentally effective way to deal with the challenge of climate change. It is not good for productivity, it is not good for the economy and it is not good for future generations in this country.

Jenny Macklin

This matter has been the subject of debate in this parliament for many decades. Across that time we have seen the coalition parties take many different points of view on this issue. Throughout the debate, though, Labor’s position has been consistent. Most importantly, we accept the overwhelming consensus of the scientists.

Summary: Labor acepts the science. Without a market based price on carbon pollution  Australia will be left behind. Other countries around the world will attract investment in clean energy technologies that create jobs and generate economic growth. Around the world right now more money is being invested in new renewable power capacity than in new fossil fuel capacity.

The new Prime Minister seems to want to deprive Australian workers of the job opportunities offered by a clean energy future. Unlike the coalition, Labor wants to make sure that we both care for the environment and reduce our emissions at the same time as seeing innovation and new jobs across industry. Since 2009 until now, there has been bipartisan support for increasing Australia’s emission reduction target to 25 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 if there was a genuine global effort to reduce emissions. But not any more—that, like many of the other commitments from those opposite, has just gone out the window.

Anthony Albanese

I support a market based solution. That used to be a consensus in this parliament. John Howard campaigned in 2007 in favour of an ETS as a result of the work that was done in the Shergold report. Labor also campaigned in the 2007 election for an ETS. We did so because we understand that it is the power of the market that can drive change in our economy. The alternative plan, the command style economy plan of the so-called Direct Action plan, simply will not be enough.

Julie Owens

I can only assume that any government that puts up a sham of a policy such as direct action—a policy with no detail that no credible economist or scientist believes will work, which gets called a figleaf at various times—either does not believe in climate change at all or does not understand or accept that a government governs not just for this generation but for the generation that follows and the generation after that.

19 November 2013

Julie Owens (continued)

As we move away from the carbon economy to clean technology we are also the country with the right assets in the right place. We have the right climate, the right environment and the right ability to come up with new answers. A cap-and-trade scheme causes those talents to come together to build a more prosperous nation. The Direct Action Plan not only does not do much for the economy, but it does not do anything for the environment either.

Summary: A cap and trade scheme – an ETS – gives business and scientists incentives to innovate to reduce pollution. The Coalition’s Direct Action plan does not.

Warren Snowdon

This is real. It is not something which has been cooked up; this is real and it is happening today.

Summary: Northern Australia is already seeing the effects of climate change including in spread of disease and sea level rise.

Mark Dreyfus

I wish I could say that the Abbott government wants to do nothing. That would be bad enough. But in fact that would be too generous an assessment. Before the government gets to its plan of doing nothing with its smokescreen of a fund, which it has not explained what it is going to do with, it is going to first destroy the successful and economically responsible policies that Labor has introduced.

Tanya Plibersek

The legislation introduced by this government is reckless. Against all sensible advice, it removes a cap on pollution. It seeks to abolish the Climate Change Authority, an independent body providing government with the best advice on tackling climate change. Against evidence showing that the carbon price is working, it seeks to replace it with a slush fund for polluters that sheets home the costs to taxpayers.

The carbon price is working. The previous parliament saw those opposite launch one of the most mendacious scare campaigns in recent political history. Carbon pricing, it was claimed, would destroy entire industries, like steel manufacturing and coalmining; it would wipe out whole towns, like Whyalla; and it would result in unimaginable increases to the cost of living, like the $100 Sunday roast. Of course, none of that happened. During the first year of the carbon price around 150,000 jobs were created, the economy continued to grow at 2½ per cent and inflation remained low. Pollution in the national electricity market decreased by seven per cent. Renewable power generation as a share of the national electricity market increased by 25 per cent. One million homes around Australia now have solar panels, compared with 7,000 when we came to office. South Australia draws almost 30 per cent of its energy from wind. The inflationary impact was modest at best and less than expected, which meant that the assistance households received through tax cuts or transfer payments went even further. So after the success of carbon pricing, why would we take the reckless action of repealing it?

Labor supports getting rid of the fixed price carbon tax, but only when the government comes up with a real solution to cut carbon pollution. Yet the government is led by a Prime Minister who does not believe in climate change and has no serious policy to deal with it.

The government’s legislation removes the cap on pollution and allows the big polluters open slather. They are not allowed to dump their rubbish in the street, they are not allowed to pour their chemicals into our rivers but this government wants to leave them open slather in our air.

Gai Brodtmann and continued

Labor are united in support of a market based solution as the most effective and efficient way to tackle climate change. It has been inspiring to hear the passion shown by my colleagues—the passion they have because they obviously want to ensure that Australia does not take a backward step here, that we do the right thing for future generations and that we do the right thing for the planet.

Jill Hall

I find it extremely interesting listening to [Liberal members] talking about electricity prices, particularly coming from New South Wales, where there have been massive increases in the price of electricity—not because of the price on carbon but because of the state government ratcheting up the price of electricity.

Back in December 2009, Malcolm Turnbull, somebody who has had a very sensible and science based approach to climate change in the past, stated:

… Tony himself has, in just four or five months, publicly advocated blocking the[emissions trading scheme], the passing of the ETS, the amending of the ETS and, if the amendments were satisfactory, passing it, and now the blocking of it. His only redeeming virtue in this remarkable lack of conviction is that every time he announced a new position to me he would preface it with “Mate, mate, I know I am a bit of a weathervane on this, but …”

Stephen Jones

Let me say something about mandates: no government ever has a mandate to ignore expert advice. No government has a mandate to ignore the advice of scientists. No government has a mandate to turn its back on the public interest.

The carbon price is helping to make renewable energy competitive with the energy from fossil fuels. We can have a clean energy future, but it will not happen without a financial incentive through a cost to industry for polluting. Business knows this; Australians know this. In fact, it is a simple concept that you can explain to the most naive kindergarten child. If there is no charge on water, people will leave the taps running; if people have to pay money for the water they use, they will think about the way they use it.

20 November 2013

Graham Perrett

The devil on one shoulder is saying loudly: ‘You don’t have to worry about your children. You definitely don’t have to worry about your grandchildren or the rest of the region’—even though we are surrounded by islands that are low-lying. The angel on the other shoulder is saying to Australians: ‘Not only should you think of others because it is the moral thing to do and the right thing to do; it makes economic sense to think of others. It makes sense because it will be cheaper to act now rather than to act later.’

21 November 2013

Graham Perrett continued

To think that the Liberal Party, the party created by Menzies, the man who believed in markets, would run away from a market mechanism and say, ‘No, the public servants in Canberra will be able to get the best deal in terms of offsets.’

Sharon Bird

This side of the House, the opposition, went to the election with a very clear position. Our position was to abolish the carbon tax and to introduce an emissions trading scheme.

We have been consistent. I contested the 2010 election where we had a commitment to introducing an emissions trading scheme and which, post election, with the hung parliament, resulted in the introduction of the initial fixed price period. I contested the 2013 election with a commitment to scrap the fixed price period and move to an emissions trading scheme.

I am happy to be a member of a party that has stayed consistent on our responsibility to the future and to the people who will follow us. As decision makers in this place, we stood up and took responsibility when it was required. We did not put it off for future generations to solve. This is our children’s future.

Melissa Parke 

It is absolutely right to say that in Western Australia between 2008 and 2012 electricity prices increased by something like 60 per cent, but they did so courtesy of the state Liberal government without the faintest upward influence of a price on carbon and without a cent of compensation.

Jim Chalmers 

What we have here is a government that has been blinded by ideology on this issue. They have been seduced by the political opportunity. They have been cheered on by sections of the right-wing media and they think they know better than the overwhelming near-unanimous view of all the scientists and economists around the world.

Mark Butler

The minister and others of the government have sought to equate a carbon tax with an emissions trading scheme and, in doing so, you are either trying deliberately to mislead the community or you simply do not understand the fundamental economics of the two models. They are profoundly different. The carbon tax operates without a legal limit on carbon pollution and instead uses a price mechanism to seek to control the behaviour that is being targeted—in this case, the emission of carbon pollution. An emissions trading scheme is quite different. The discipline is not provided by price; the discipline is provided by a legislative cap on carbon pollution which then lets business work out the cheapest and most effective way to operate within that cap.

Andrew Giles

I believe that taking action on climate change is the most urgent priority for Australia. Unlike members opposite, I believe that putting a price on carbon must be at the core of taking effective action. I believe the science of climate change and I believe the economists on how we should respond to meeting this great challenge.

Our choice is stark. We have a choice to stand up for our children and their children or to blink in the face of this great moral challenge and reduce our future to a meaningless, misleading three word slogan. As the member for Fremantle put it so well this morning: polluter pays or paying polluters. That is the choice before us.

Alannah Mactiernan

The Prime Minister will go down as the Neville Chamberlain of the climate change crisis.

Justine Elliott

All we hear from those opposite is about their so-called direct action; I think it is more ‘direct inaction’, with their bizarre policies of magic trees and magic soils which just will not work.

Tony Zappia

What about the cost to society of doing nothing? The cost to society that arose after the 11 or 12 years of serious drought in the Murray-Darling Basin, that ran into billions of dollars? The cost to society every time there is a cyclone, a flood or a bushfire in this country? What is the cost to society of allowing this issue to go unchecked, when we know full well that it is going to have dramatic and drastic effects on our health costs in this country? What about all of those costs? If you factored those into account, then the reality is that with the cost to society it is much better to tackle the problem than to walk away from it.

Dr Andrew Leigh

The time for political games is gone. If this House does not take serious action on climate change we are kicking it off to future generations, and those generations will pay a higher cost than we will today. Future generations will look very dimly upon this government that took away an effective, efficient way of reducing Australia’s emissions and replaced it with an expensive, ineffective hodgepodge of measures.

Mark Butler

[Mrs Bronwyn Bishop, Speaker]: I call the honourable member for Port Adelaide, but only for 20 seconds.

Mark Butler:

In 20 seconds, what can I say, Madam Speaker? This is a very sad day for the lower House of the parliament. There was a great opportunity here for us to find a middle ground.

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