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Brandis highlights appalling lack of commitment to addressing climate change

Speeches in Parliament
Janet Rice 2 Dec 2015

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Attorney General (Senator Brandis) to a question without notice asked by the Leader of the Australian Greens (Senator Di Natale) today relating to renewable energy.

It was very disappointing to hear the response by Senator Brandis to Senator Di Natale's reasonable questions about the future of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the need to end the subsidising of fossil fuels in Australia. It was sad because it is reflective of the lack of commitment, the lack of urgency and the lack of seriousness that our government gives to the incredibly urgent problems we face of global warming. And it was particularly sad and particularly poignant given the Prime Minister is in Paris at the moment really showing what a disappointment Australia is on the global stage, how we are not pulling our weight in recognising the importance of taking action on global warming and being willing to say, yes we are up to the challenge of reducing our carbon emissions in the amount that they need to be reduced and doing the equivalent increase in production of renewable energy. It is clear that the government is still considering those options, which would be a complete disaster in terms of future investment and the future health of the renewable energy industry in Australia.

In terms of our energy future, renewables are where it is at. We know that if we are going to have a future as humanity and as societies around the world, and if we are not going to lose so many people and have so much suffering, we need to be drastically reducing our carbon pollution as quickly as possible. Yet we have Prime Minister Turnbull in Paris basically talking the same agenda as the climate denialist, our former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Mr Turnbull might speak in more eloquent words and longer sentences, but his message is the same. It is a climate denialist message—not acknowledging what needs to occur in order to reduce our carbon pollution. It is reflective of the position that we now find ourselves in in Australia. I remember when I was travelling the world as a young adult and going to Europe in 1980. There was that sense of pride that Australia was leading the world on environmental and social issues. Now we are completely backwards. It is not in the interests of the world, but it is also not in the interests of Australia. What is in the interests of Australia is acknowledging the potential for jobs and the potential for our economy, as well as the potential for our future, of seriously embracing the opportunities of clean energy.

Beyond Zero Emissions recently released a report that showed the potential for Australia to be a renewable energy superpower and outlined the potential of the renewable energy resource that we have here in Australia. It is now even cheaper to be developing those clean energy resources than it is for new fossil fuels, but instead we are continuing to subsidise fossil fuels. Not only is our Prime Minister running the agenda of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott but he is also running the agenda of the National Party politicians here, who are addicted to their old, polluting, dirty ways of doing business when we could be helping people throughout Australia, throughout regional communities, throughout country areas, to embrace the opportunities of renewable energy. We could be encouraging the rollout of solar energy on every dairy farm across the country. For intensive energy users like that, there is so much potential for them to be able to change their energy usage to clean energy.

The Greens commitment of 90 per cent renewable energy by 2030, if adopted, would unleash an absolute avalanche of investment in renewables. It would mean that we would have massive growth in renewable energy, massive growth in jobs and massive growth in working with the rest of the world, instead of being a laggard. We are not adopting serious targets and not signing on to reducing subsidies for fossil fuels. It means that we are being left behind. So I really look forward to the day that we have a change of government and change of leadership so that we can have a commitment to clean energy and to a clean future for us all.

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