The world's climate emergency is Australia's jobs opportunity - Transcript, 2SM Mornings





SUBJECTS: Climate change

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Can you believe Australia's best interests are being held ransom by an accountant in a cowboy hat? As Anthony Albanese confirmed on the program yesterday, the Nationals hold well less than 10 per cent of the national vote yet wield so much power. Barnaby Joyce seems to be engaged in a cunning, four-stage climate plan to do absolutely bugger all. Step one: eight years of doing nothing. Step two: congratulate yourself on doing nothing. Step three: win four more years of doing nothing. And step four: get ScoMo to blame someone else for doing nothing. They've had eight years, and I couldn't believe my ears the other day when I heard David Littleproud tell - I think it was the ABC, whoever it was, I don't care - he basically turned around and said, 'Oh, how can you expect us to possibly come up with some sort of solution in two days?' Moron. Dead set, you've had eight years - eight years of inaction. Andrew Leigh, federal Member for Fenner. Good morning, Andrew.


PAUL: Thank you. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told his Liberal colleagues he will forge ahead with a cut to carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 in a crucial call on climate policy that cannot be blocked by the bloke in a cowboy hat and his other small group of opponents in the Nations partyroom, no matter how much coal they smear on their faces.

LEIGH: This is their 22nd energy policy, Marcus. If you believe they're going to land this one I've got a bridge you might like to buy. The fact is that when Scott Morrison goes off to Glasgow, Barnaby Joyce will be in charge of the country, and all the way in the lead up to Glasgow, Barnaby Joyce has been in charge of Australia's climate policies. Scott Morrison is still committed to the 2030 carbon emission targets that Tony Abbott had, the 26 to 28 per cent reductions. Tony Abbott, as we know, is a climate change denier who once described climate change as ‘absolute crap’. Australia is the advanced country most of risk from climate change, yet we're the only advanced country yet to sign up to net zero by 2050.

PAUL: I don't understand. Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce warned of a ripple effect through the Coalition if he and his party were forced to submit to net zero. In other words, he wants to hold the COALition, as I like to call it at the moment, to ransom - effectively holding the country to ransom.

LEIGH: It's a government that's frozen in time while the world warms around us. The problem is that the world's climate emergency is Australia's jobs opportunity. There are so many chances to create renewable jobs. We have modelling from Deloitte, for example, that says unchecked climate change could cost Australia 900,000 jobs and $3.4 trillion, but action on climate change would deliver some 300,000 jobs and an additional $680 billion in GDP. There is far more that Australia has to gain than to lose from acting on climate change, and we need to start moving sooner rather than later.

PAUL: Well, Andrew, what are the effects or the benefits, I guess, of inaction? There's no benefit, sorry, so what will happen if we don't act?

LEIGH: We know there's the extreme weather events, Marcus, and they can have an immediate toll on lives and they also just make work harder. Construction work will become much tougher with more extreme hot days. We know it's going to cost the tourism sector, and the Great Barrier Reef, and, of course, the loss of the ski fields. We know that extreme weather events will change the agriculture in Australia. The Goyder Line in South Australia, the limit of agriculture, has been steadily shifting back down towards the coast and many farmers are worried that they won't be able to continue to farm in their areas. It will have an impact on the amount of water and it will have an impact on people's insurance bills. But if we act then we can take advantage of these great clean energy opportunities. You know, back in 2008, one watt of clean energy via solar power cost $4. Now that's down to 17 cents, because solar has become so much more efficient, which is why a quarter of us have it on our roofs.

PAUL: What are the dangers of climate change to regional Australia, Andrew?

LEIGH: It's the farming impacts, but also, Marcus, the impact of bushfires that we see every summer. We know these extreme weather events are becoming more frequent. As one commentator has said, we may soon stop calling it ‘extreme weather’ and just start calling it ‘weather’. But if we're able to get the world to act, we will be able to head off the worst effects of this. Australia is a modest share of global emissions, but when we work with other medium-sized emitters, we can make a case to push the rest of the world for stronger action. We do have higher per-person emissions than any other advanced country, so we have a moral obligation to act. Of course, there's also this great economic argument, which was articulated so well by the Business Council of Australia and the ACTU report that came out last week. That report made very clear that there is a strong case for Australia taking strong targets to Glasgow.

PAUL: Barnaby Joyce says he and other National Party members may have to quit cabinet if they can't reach an agreement on whether to commit to a net zero target. This comes after another partyroom meeting yesterday to go over the net zero by 2050 proposal, but Mr Joyce said people have further to go on reaching their decision and discussions were continuing. I mean, they've had eight years, Andrew! What the hell have they been doing in eight years?

LEIGH: Marcus, you’ve just got to realise who else is signed up to net zero by 2050: our biggest miners, our biggest banks, the National Farmers Federation, every major business group, every state and territory in Australia, and as I mentioned before, every other advanced country in the world. Net zero by 2050 is not a radical position. Conservative governments in Britain and in Germany signed up to it long ago. The fact is that the National Party are being left behind by history. I don't know why they're not acting in the interest of rural and regional Australia, who stand to lose the most if unchecked climate change goes ahead, and have great opportunities to gain if we're able to shift to a clean energy economy and ensure areas such as the Illawarra and the Hunter benefit from clean energy jobs.

PAUL: Well, I mean, the cynic in me says that the Nats, if they commit to 2050, I mean, they're being wedged by One Nation. One Nation, of course, is saying that they will run a very expensive advertising campaign against the Nationals in their seats should Barnaby Joyce sign up to any United Nations climate deals ahead of the next federal election. One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson says they would act to protect jobs in agriculture and mining if the Nationals failed regional Australia and supported agreement with UN's COP26 climate change goals in Glasgow. So look, I can understand why they'd be a little bit concerned. They're copping it from every angle here. Not only will One Nation wedge them in their own electorates, but of course, the other more cynical point of view is the fact that well, if they do go ahead, who's going provide them with all those juicy, well, 'donations', Andrew?

LEIGH: Marcus, this is a sad state of affairs. We only get one life. You only get one career in politics. Surely the right thing to do is to get in there and with all your energy do the right thing to serve the constituents. The idea that you would kowtow to the fearmongering of climate denialists is just outrageous to me. Nats voters should be in white-hot fury about their representatives selling them out over the issue of climate change. The Nationals ought to be strong supporters of action on climate change, as rural conservatives are in many other countries. The fact that they're in hock to some of the most bizarre conspiracy theories in Australia says everything about the weakness of the modern National Party, and it's the reason why it has been in structural decline for decades.

PAUL: All right, Andrew, well, the Coalition fighting to avoid action on climate change will mean whole communities will miss the opportunities of the renewable revolution, leaving their own people behind to placate their billionaire donors. I mean, that's a really good comment that I'm reading here this morning. Thank you for coming on, as always.

LEIGH: Real pleasure, Marcus. Thank you.


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.