Liberals out of touch on climate change - Speech, House of Representatives


For the sake of our children it's time to set aside childish things. It's time to set aside the coalition's denialism on climate change. Climate change is happening and humans are causing it. Since the industrial era, temperatures have risen one degree on average and 1½ degrees in some parts of the world.

- The Member for Hughes interjecting.

Thank you, Mr Hydroxychloroquine. I appreciate the interjections.

Australia is the developed country most at risk from unchecked climate change. Australia has the most to lose, as the bushfires have shown and as the damage to the Great Barrier Reef has demonstrated. As temperatures rise, more parts of Australia will become unliveable and unviable for agriculture, so we need to be urgently leading the world in measures to cut emissions, not blocking serious climate action, as the government did. In Madrid at the very time Australia was on fire the minister blocked other countries from acting.

The reasons for acting are optimistic too. Ross Garnaut's terrific book Super-Power outlines the great opportunities to be had for Australian renewable energy. Rebecca Huntley's How to Talk about Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference outlines a positive case for climate change action. Yet Marian Wilkinson's The Carbon Club demonstrates how the denialists and the coalition have chosen the opposite path. They're choosing to follow the denialism of the US Republicans rather than the sensible centralism of conservatives in places like New Zealand and Britain.

The rest of the world is moving. China will aim to hit peak emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060. President Xi has called for a 'green recovery' of the world economy post COVID. Europe is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050. If Joe Biden wins, as the betting markets and polls currently suggest, the US will aim for a 100 per cent clean energy economy and net zero emissions no later than 2050. In early 2021 the European Commission will adopt a more ambitious plan, focusing on climate proofing, resilience building and prevention. We have recently seen South Australia produce all of its energy from renewables for the first time in history. The ACT has 100 per cent renewables. The United States, were Joe Biden to win, would chart a path to zero carbon pollution in their electricity sector by 2035. The Democrats plan to invest in clean rail systems and zero emission public transport in every American city with more than 100,000 residents by 2030.

That would leave the Morrison government increasingly isolated on the world stage. Indeed, over 60 countries have pledged commitments to net zero emissions by 2050. Every Australian state and territory has done so. The Business Council, the Australian Industry Group, our largest airline, our largest miner and our largest bank support net zero emissions by 2050. The Morrison government is increasingly appearing out of touch.

Here in the ACT the Canberra Liberals had their chance to move towards the centre and chose to stick with the extremes. They expressed gestural sympathies for climate change, but they voted against the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme in the ACT. They opposed the climate change strategy that will get the ACT to zero emissions.

As an article in The Canberra Times put it, Alistair Coe 'could not detail how his party would do that'—that is, cut emissions—'aside from vague references to advancements in electric car technology'. Gary Humphries has belled the cat today in The Canberra Times, saying:

The Liberal Party has been locked into a crippling, paralysing conservatism that is robbing it of any chance to speak to the aspirations and values of the Canberra community.

He said:

... the more they looked at the Liberals, the more uncomfortable they became at the prospect of voting Liberal.

Here in the ACT, the Canberra Liberals have seen the results of moving to the hard Right and siding with the Prime Minister and his pet rock, the Deputy Prime Minister, and his attack on woke greenies rather than the sensible centrism of the ACT. I congratulate the Barr Government on their re-election and the climate change strategy that was at the core of that campaign.


Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.