Standing up for Canberra

Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 (Part I)

I thank the member for Wright for that interesting contribution. I particularly liked the bucket analogy. I am still trying to work it out. It was an interesting analogy. I want to say first of all how inspiring it has been to listen to the speeches of my colleagues on this carbon tax repeal legislation. This is an issue on which Labor is united. We believe that climate change is a real and significant threat and one that demands a strong response. 

Labor is 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.

We have known for some time that our sea levels are rising as a result of human induced global warming and the advice from climate scientists is clear on this. Most recently the fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released this year told us that warming of the climate system is unequivocal and the sea level has risen. We know too that extreme weather events are increasing in intensity and frequency as a result of climate change. In Australia we do not need to be reminded about the devastation that extreme weather events can cause. It is something we all know and it is something we all fear. It is something, therefore, that we should be united in tackling.

Those opposite agree on the need to reduce carbon pollution. What we disagree on is how we should go about that. Labor will support the repeal of the fixed carbon price in order to replace it with an emissionstrading scheme. What we will not support is the removal of the fixed price on carbon if it is not going to be replaced by a carbon-pricing scheme that puts a cap on carbon pollution, that guarantees a reduction in carbon pollution.

I want to talk a bit today about the significance of the moment we are in right now. We are at a fork in the road. If we choose one course, we have an opportunity to position ourselves to make the most of the carbon constrained global economy that is coming over the horizon as a matter of certainty. We have the opportunity to ease the challenges that our children and grandchildren are certain to face. We have the opportunity to join our trading partners and our allies as they demonstrate to the world that limiting carbon pollution can be done and must be done. This is not about being a global leader anymore. That moment has gone. The global leaders have been operating in carbon constrained economies for years. This is about not being left behind.

Then there is the other course that we can take, which offers us a future that is not so bright. Along this road our children and grandchildren will face insurmountable problems and the costs, both financial and human, associated with tackling those problems. Along this road we will lag behind the rest of the world —lag behind our trading partners, our allies and our neighbours who took action when they first saw the opportunity and the need to do so. Along this road our future economic prosperity is at risk.

Yesterday I was talking to one of my staff members about the position that Labor has taken and the crossroads that we are at at the moment. I was saying to her that it is a bit like being in the late 1970s and being on our way out to get a VHS player. We had ordered it and worked out how we were going to pay for it and it was almost ours, but at the last minute we switched and decided to get a Beta, which we went on to regret for years to come. My staff member, who is a lot younger than me, said that a similar situation occurred in 2001 when people decided to ditch their brand-new Apple iPods for Sony MiniDisc players.

While these analogies might not be perfect, the message is clear. Moving away from a price on carbon is making the wrong choice. It is making a choice that Labor believes and that I believe Australia will live to regret.

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