February 24, 2020 Josh Burns MP

Fighting the dinosaurs blocking climate change action

Mr BURNS (Macnamara) (18:25): I rise to support the motion moved by the member for Melbourne. We are in a climate emergency. The motion that the member for Melbourne put on the Notice Paper is obviously a further motion to those a number of people, including the member for Hindmarsh, have attempted to put forward in this place. The member for Hindmarsh put forward a motion last year that, of course, didn’t make it to the floor of the House of Representatives for debate, because those on that side of the House are afraid of what that debate would look like. That side of the House is full of people, like the member for Hughes, who are climate change deniers. I’m sure that when the member for Hughes gets up here and has his five minutes of glory, we will hear and see the true colours of those opposite.

We are in a climate emergency. Before I touch on some of the contributions in this debate from members of the government, I reiterate the commitment made by the Australian Labor Party of net zero emissions by 2050 as part of our efforts to tackle climate change. This is not controversial, this is not extreme; this is in line with the science. It is in line with the recommendations of the IPCC and in line with the commitments made by Germany, by France, by Sweden, by New Zealand, by Denmark—by 70 other countries around the world. It is in line with the commitments being made by all of the states and territories in Australia, including those being governed by Liberal governments. I know this might be an inconvenient truth for the dinosaurs in the opposite party—

Mr Brian Mitchell: That’s you, Craig.

Mr BURNS: I appreciate the assistance of my colleague here—but we need to set a direction; we need to start lowering our emissions. Of course, the only time that we have done that effectively was when Labor was last in government and we had emission reductions of what we have seen on 2005 levels. They have plateaued under the governance of the Prime Minister and on the watch of the Liberal Party, but we must take action.

Let’s go through some of the reasons why we haven’t seen any climate action from this government. The first comes from the member for New England. The member for New England is a big reason why this government is not taking action on climate change. The member for New England spent the summer videoing himself in fields talking to clouds, saying climate change had all sorts of other reasons behind it—but he refused to take action on climate change. Senator Molan went on Q+A and admitted that his views on climate change had nothing to do with evidence, because apparently evidence isn’t something that we need to consult on or think about when tackling climate change. Senator McMahon said that we are all going to go back to living in huts before the days of electricity because of our net zero emission targets. And the member sitting over here, the member for Hughes, only recently was supporting a campaign in schools, as reported in the Fairfax papers, that said that climate change is a hoax. That’s what the member for Hughes wants in our classrooms. The member for Hughes wants to say to our students, who are worried, who are anxious about the future, who want hope and who want leadership in this place, that climate change is a hoax. It is a disgrace. It is no wonder that this government is not interested in listening to the science, it is no wonder that this government is not interested in tackling climate change and it is no wonder that we have become an international embarrassment under the leadership of the Prime Minister.

Our targets are in line with the science. We are emitting greenhouse gases right across the economy, across the country, and we must take action to reduce them. It is difficult and I acknowledge that it is difficult. I acknowledge the fact that to lower our emissions means changing the way in which we’re doing it, but I remember that when the Labor Party first set our 2020 renewable energy target people scoffed at us. People said it couldn’t be done.

Mr Craig Kelly: (unintelligible)

Mr BURNS: I didn’t quite catch the interjection from the member for Hughes. But all they are interested in is tackling Labor. They are not interested in tackling climate change. They are not interested in providing hope. They are not interested in listening to the science. They are not interested in responding to the calls of the international community. We are on the front line of climate change as Australians, and this government is taking a back seat and is ignoring the signs. We must change that now.


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