Climate Change Bill 2022 - Second Reading

03 Aug 2022
Parliament House
Prime Minister
Check against delivery

Thanks, very much, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Can I congratulate on your election as Deputy Speaker.

Can I say to the previous speaker, who is not a bad bloke, but, for goodness sake, to speak about facts when it comes to climate change. Wow.

Yet, we should listen to the facts and we should listen to the science. Because the science is very clear, that we need to act. And the facts are very clear that by acting, we can actually create economic activity and create jobs.

The fact is that in our first month in office, we updated our Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement to reflect the target that we were elected on a 43 per cent by 2030 and to set Australia on the path to net zero by 2050.

We sent a message to the world, to our friends, to business, to our trading partners that for the first time in a decade, Australia has a Government that takes climate change seriously.

We have a Government that understands the opportunity which is there, particularly for the regions in acting on climate change.

Passing this legislation sends a great message to the people of Australia that we are taking real action on climate change. That the decade of inaction and denial is over. That Australia is out of the naughty corner in international forums and we are once again engaging with the global community who understand the importance of acting on climate change and understand that this is also not just an environmental issue, this is the biggest economic transformation that we will see globally in our lifetime, as big and as significant as the Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution was based upon fossil fuels. It brought great prosperity. But what we know also is that it is changing our climate.

And that is why we need to respond to the science.

Australia knows that by responding, we can create that certainty, drive new jobs, drive new industries, with new technologies and a new era of prosperity for Australian manufacturing.

This bill is also about our national security.

One of the things that we found when it came to the pandemic was that Australia needs to be more self-reliant. We need to be able to stand up for ourselves and our economy, more self-sufficient.

One of the things that cleaner, cheaper energy will do is to drive advanced manufacturing in this country.

We should continue to export our resources that we have. But, where possible, we should value-add. When you value-add, you create jobs, you create economic activity there.

The risks of climate change are here, right now.

This isn't some economic debate in an academic journal.

Australians in recent times have experienced first drought, then bushfires, then flood and then more flood. Australians have experienced the catastrophic consequences on human beings, on families, on communities. But they have also experienced the economic cost of climate change, with whole towns destroyed by fire, with devastation of floods. In some cases, in parts of Sydney, the Member for Macquarie's electorate has been impacted by bushfires and then three floods in a very short period of time.

I don't know what it will take for those opposite to wake up and to say, 'Yes, we were wrong, the science is clear, the science told us that there would be more extreme weather events and they would be more intense and that is what is happening'.

Remember when the bushfires were occurring here and Government members and Ministers were standing up saying, ‘How dare you relate that to climate change?’ That it was being woke.

Well, for the people of regional Australia, for the people who were impacted by those bushfires, whether it be in Gippsland or in Eden-Monaro or in the Blue Mountains or other communities on the north coast of New South Wales, they know the harsh reality of climate change.

That's why we have seen a real transformation in the amount of support that is there for action.

And I thank those on the crossbench who have been prepared to engage constructively legislation, who have been prepared to put forward their ideas within the parameters that we weren't about to change our essential mandate that we had of 43 per cent by 2030, that we understand that when you put in place the mechanisms that are there in the Powering Australia plan, what you will see is the market operating to drive that change through the economy, to drive those jobs through the economy, to drive that change.

We also understand that we need to bring communities with us, to make sure that where there are changes in the nature of work in communities, that communities aren't left behind. And we're determined to do that as well.

That's why, when we signed the new Nationally Determined Contribution to the UNFCCC, the Minister and I stood in front of the Business Council of Australia Secretary and President, Australian Industry Group, representing Australian manufacturers, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the National Farmers’ Federation, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Clean Energy Council, the Australian Conservation Foundation and others, including the Greenpeace and others who have come out in support.

What you have is people not quietly, loudly, screaming out for action, saying, 'Enough is enough'. We need to actually get on with the business of transition, of putting in place structures that will encourage that investment to occur.

Because when that investment occurs, we know from the modelling that we did through Reputex, over 600,000 jobs will be created. And half a million of those will be in regional and rural Australia.

We know the incredible opportunity which is there from the change that will happen in our economy.

We see it with innovative Australian businesses. We see it particularly in the regions.

Projects like Sun Cable, which will be the world's largest solar farm, which will use renewable energy there, using - those opposite are a bit obsessed by nuclear - well, there is the largest nuclear power plant, it is up in the sky and it is free.

The Sun Cable project will use solar power to help to power up to and perhaps beyond 20 per cent of Singapore's power needs.

This is what we talk about when we talk about being a renewable energy super power, as Australia can actually export that energy.

And because it's renewable, because it's free, it is not finite. It is infinite what we can achieve in this century, whereby renewables will dominate the century as we go forward.

That's why this is such an opportunity.

The market for batteries, for example, is only just going to grow.

We have already introduced our legislation to make electric vehicles cheaper. We have nickel, copper, lithium and everything that goes into a battery. Why aren't we making things here?

There is not a solar panel in the world that doesn't have some intellectual innovation that was created here in Australia at UNSW or ANU just up the road but we hardly make any of them here.

If we actually open our eyes to the opportunity, we can transform this economy, we can create jobs, we can make such an enormous difference going forward.

I think this is as important a piece of legislation as will come before this Parliament.

It's a matter as well of our responsibility.

And I say this to the young people out there.

When you know that pollution is being created, you have a responsibility to act on it.

Just as we don't accept people just putting their rubbish on the ground so someone else will pick it up, we have a responsibility to not just say we won't worry about emissions because we will worry about the future generations to fix it.

We have a great responsibility to this beautiful island continent that we live on to make sure that we act on climate change.

This Government will.

And then we will tell our children responsibility that we stepped up, we took responsibility and we met the moment.