Clean Energy Bill 2011, Clean Energy Consequential Amendments Bill 2011

Mr HUSIC (Chifley—Government Whip) (22:48): The effect of the amendment that has been put forward by the opposition is, as has been admitted by their side, to delay any action on climate change. Part of the defence is that in actual fact others are not moving on this issue and therefore we should not.

But quite frankly, we are not leading the world and the biggest danger for us is that we are in danger of being left behind. The rest of the world clearly is acting, and both our economy and environment are at risk through delay. Many countries—all the major emitters—are acting now to reduce carbon pollution, and a broad range of countries have introduced or are planning market-based emissions trading schemes and carbon taxes. It is worth noting that our top five trading partners—China, Japan, the US, the Republic of Korea and India—and another six of our top 20 trading partners—New Zealand, the UK, Germany, Italy, France and the Netherlands—have implemented or are piloting carbon trading or taxation systems at a national, state or city level. Many of those countries have renewable energy targets, including 14 of Australia's top 20 trading partners.

We are being asked to delay action when in fact the pace of change that is occurring beyond our borders is speeding up. Eighty-nine countries, accounting for over 80 per cent of global carbon pollution and over 90 per cent of the global economy, have pledged to reduce or eliminate pollution by 2020 under the United Nations Framework on the Convention on Climate Change. There have been ETSs operating for years in 31 European countries, in New Zealand and in 10 US states. California is the world's eighth largest economy and has legislated for an ETS. Again, we are being asked not to do anything when there are many countries and many parts of the US that are already moving on this.

In addition to regional cap-and-trade measures, at the national level the US is basically implementing a diverse range of actions to reduce carbon pollution, including environmental regulations, renewable energy targets and transport sector initiatives. All this work is happening. China, which was referenced before in the debate, has ambitious targets to reduce its economy's energy and carbon intensity. By 2013 it is planning pilot emissions trading in several major provinces and cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. The combined population—this is worth noting—is over 200 million people, and the combined GDP is significantly larger than Australia's. So it is obvious that the world is moving on this, and the danger for us is that we will be left behind as they move ahead and, as I indicated earlier in the debate, we will be forced to play expensive catch up. For every year we do not undertake any action we will be required to stump up $5 billion extra to help get us closer to the five per cent emission reduction target by 2020. I have noticed in this debate a reference to democracy, and I have noticed a reference to people not being given a say. I think that if we are going to talk about people having a say, there is one member of the entire opposition front bench of 21 MPs that has not spoken against the carbon price. He is the only member of the entire shadow ministry of 27 members, including all of the shadow parliamentary secretaries, who has not spoken. He is one of only five out of 72 coalition MPs not to speak against the carbon price and one of only three MPs of the 70 who have been present for the whole debate who have chosen not to speak. That person is the member for Wentworth. So if you are going to come in here and tell us that, bringing all of your petitions and all of your statements, and quoting people who have been denied a say, look at your own side, where there is clearly a division, particularly amongst senior people who believe that action does need to be taken and is not.

Significantly, we had some references when I had to sit in the chamber earlier listening to people who believed that they had been gagged. Let us go to the stats. Those opposite gagged 26 Labor MPs during the Telstra privatisation. I represented the union that was part of that organisation, where jobs went from 90,000 to 30,000 through the course of privatisation. All of those people lost their jobs and their livelihoods. There were 26 Labor MPs gagged during that privatisation—

The SPEAKER: Order! The member should not unduly reopen the second reading debate.

Mr HUSIC: and 20 Labor MPs gagged on Work Choices. If we are going to have people talking about democracy, look first at your own record before you start lecturing us.

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley


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