Matters of Public Importance - Climate Change

The rhetoric from government members has changed markedly over the past eight years, and that contribution from the member for Higgins just goes to show that if we had been having this sort of debate for the past eight years then Australia would be in a very different place from where it is now. The fact is that for the past eight years the Morrison government and the Abbott government before that have demonised and weaponised climate change and climate change action. We're getting a very different story from some government members now.

Labor understands that the world's climate emergency is Australia's job opportunity. We have always understood that. Labor understands that people in Australia's regions stand to benefit the most from stronger climate change action. Labor understands, and we have always understood, that technology is key to achieving net zero. It's why at the last election we offered incentives for the take-up of electric vehicles, incentives that were ridiculed by those opposite but, it appears, are now being copied by them. Labor has always been on the side of technology and making sure that we take stronger action towards net zero.

The Liberals have demonstrated again and again that they simply cannot be trusted. Whether it's cuts to pensions or Medicare, robodebt or their failure to address climate change, the Liberals have shown they have not earned and do not deserve Australia's trust. The member for Batman described the performance and behaviour of those opposite as 'a circus'. The Leader of the Opposition has described the Deputy Prime Minister as 'a human whoopee cushion'. Another analogy would be that those opposite are engaged in a cheap magic show, because all we have seen from the government this week is illusions, sleight of hand, distraction and fast talking. They have pulled out the full bag of tricks. But when you cut through the fluff you are left dazed and the only thing in your hand is a pamphlet. I remember Tony Abbott waving around a pamphlet; I think it was called 'Real Solutions'. It was launched with fanfare and photos, and it disappeared faster than he did!

All we have from the Prime Minister is this so-called plan with no new ideas, no new policies and no real commitment to achieving net zero by 2050—just so many words and slogans about aspirations, hopes, processes and maybes. 'The plan, the plan!' cries Prime Minister Tattoo, stranded on his very own Fantasy Island. After eight years of ridiculing climate change action, of trying to defund climate action bodies, of rejecting science and of abandoning regional energy jobs, the Prime Minister expects us to simply believe him. But he won't release the modelling. He does not trust Australians to see the assumptions on which he has built his so-called plan. 'Trust me!' As if!

Australians do not trust this Prime Minister on net zero by 2050 because his own government members don't trust him on net zero. Here is what senior members of the government have said, in their own words. The Deputy Prime Minister: 'Climate change is a scam. Clean energy is a scam.' Senator Rennick: 'Net zero is a fantasy target.' The Deputy Prime Minister again: 'Net zero by 2050 is ridiculous.' Senator Cash: 'Net zero by 2050 is a job-destroying policy.' The Deputy Prime Minister yet again: 'Net zero is an infliction on our rights.' The member for Dawson: 'The science on climate change is not settled.' And the member for Mallee, just the other day: 'Wind farms don't work at night.'

Let's not forget that the 'climate change is a scam' member for New England will be the Acting Prime Minister next week while the PM negotiates climate change action in Glasgow. The Acting Prime Minister will be joined at the cabinet table by the member for Hinkler, the anti-renewables minister promoted to cabinet in the same week the Prime Minister seeks to convince world leaders that Australia will do its fair share in meeting the global climate action challenge. You would laugh if it wasn't so serious, and it is serious.

Longer, harder droughts, floods and fire that are more severe and happen more often, acidification of our oceans—we have had eight wasted years that we can never get back. I want to rebuild our regions, and renewable energy is key to that aspiration. Tasmania is a leader in Australia when it comes to renewable energy and net zero, and it will continue to be a leader. I look forward to being part of it.