PMB – Climate Change

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Mr PITT: In speaking on this motion, I’m going to start with some tongue-in-cheek comments. This issue is ‘so important’ to those opposite. Let us count how many there are here. Well, there were five but now there are four—one, two, three, four. I think there is one coming back. I am not sure whether the member is returning. We could get to five people on the other side. It is ‘so important’ to those opposite that they declare a climate emergency that they haven’t even filled the opposite side of the chamber!

I note that Matt Killoran is up in the press gallery, and I also note his story on the CourierMail site today, talking about the former member for Herbert, Cathy O’Toole—who has managed to find her spine on this issue—and former Labor Party member and Mayor of Rockhampton, Margaret Strelow, who have come out and said that the Labor Party has got it wrong. Let me count the ways! Once again, I take this motion with a grain of salt, to be honest. If those opposite were serious, they would all be here—every single one of them would be in the chamber. So this is, at worst, a stunt and, at best, a way to fill some space in this morning’s program.

If those opposite were serious about this, if it is a climate emergency, then everything should be on the table—everything—and we shouldn’t just be ruling things in and out because we like them or we don’t like them. That means that you should consider nuclear energy. That means that you should consider HELE coal. If a HELE coal power station can reduce emissions by 40 per cent, why wouldn’t you use it? Why wouldn’t we go to another country and take their biggest emitting industries and move them to Australia, cut them in half, improve the world’s outcome and create more jobs? But it seems that’s off the table, too.

I’ve got to say that I have missed one opposition member. There is an extra opposition member over here who I didn’t count previously. There are six here in the chamber. So my apologies to the Labor Party; there are six here for this debate. So, if everything is on the table for the climate emergency, that’s the end of snowmakers. There will be no more of those; they run on diesel. We’ll certainly have to stop using aircraft. So we will have to move parliamentary sittings and come here for a longer period of time, as there will be no more aircraft. There will also be no more cars.

But, in all seriousness, if we are to look at this issue properly, we need to consider what our contribution is. That is what we on this side of the House, the government, have done. We have put forward a proportional response to our contribution. We have put up a balanced approach to what we are doing in terms of the environment. When we look at what happened in the last election, we know the outcome: the people agreed with us. The people agreed with us, because they were terrified of what the opposite side would do. Those opposite had a completely uncosted policy. This was identified by Jonathan Lee at a press conference, when the then Leader of the Opposition simply couldn’t answer the question: ‘How much will your policy cost, Mr Shorten?’ If you cannot put forward a costed policy to the Australian people they will not support you. It is that straightforward.

You do not represent working people anymore. That is the reality of where we are at. If we look at what happened in Queensland, rusted-on Labor voters walked away from the opposition in droves. They know that it happened. I know that it happened. We know the outcome. We know what happened in terms of the election. But, to be honest, I think it’s a great shame—I really do—because the Labor Party used to be the party of working people. They are now the party of slogans. Where do you go from the climate emergency? Does it become a climate crisis? Do we wind it back and say, ‘It’s not quite as bad as we thought it was, so we’ll wind it back a little bit more’? Once again we find ourselves here talking about another stunt around the climate emergency. As I said during this speech previously, I haven’t seen a single member come in. I don’t see the Labor Party tearing in to support their colleagues on the PMB. I don’t see any of those things.

Once again, if you are out there representing working people, stop telling them you’ll take away their jobs, because that is exactly what they are concerned about. They are concerned about losing the roles that they have now. Their priority is to pay their bills, be employed, ensure they can send their kids to school and work their way through what they do in life. On this side of the parliament, we are representing them. We are here in their interests, not those on the other side. We hear a lot of noise and a lot of sloganeering and we see lots of people with stunts and who are holding up traffic and, once again, I’d say to those in Extinction Rebellion: there will be no glue for you if there it’s a climate emergency; we simply can’t produce any. Every single time we bring forward stunts like this, you depreciate the value of your position. If you really want to support climate change work and what we are doing around the environment, put forward a practical approach. Tell us what it is.

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