Climate Change

I must confess, I am embarrassed, but I am embarrassed for the Greens, who once again have demonstrated their complete contempt for the will of the Australian people by proposing this matter of public importance today. People at home have listened to the Greens, as have the people in the gallery, be more concerned about readers of newspapers overseas and that says something. We have a Green party here who are more concerned about the Los Angeles Times than the South Burnett Times. We have a party who are more concerned about the readers of the Washington Post rather than those who read the Cairns Post. We have a party here who are more concerned about what hipsters living in lofts in Brooklyn think, rather than families living on the breadline in Hervey Bay, Townsville or Nambour. So I am embarrassed for the Greens who continue to espouse their environmental socialism in the face of the clear mandate delivered to this government at last year's election—a mandate to abolish the carbon tax, to lower the cost of living for Australians and to implement practical solutions to deal with climate change.

Let us not talk about what the Los Angeles Times says—I am sure it is an august publication. Let us talk about what the government is doing with climate change. I am embarrassed that the Greens have not heeded the concerns of the Australian people who delivered this government a very big mandate and have not listened to the concerns of the Australian people over the debt and deficit disaster left to us by the former Labor-Greens government.

I am embarrassed that the Greens are advocating that we borrow more money. Our interest bill alone is $1 billion a month at the moment and they want to borrow more money from overseas, to put more money on the government credit card, which will be paid off by our children and our grandchildren, and then send it off to an unelected international body which is unaccountable to the people of Australia.

Despite the opposition of the Greens and the Labor Party, this government has delivered on its promise to abolish the Labor-Greens carbon tax, the world's largest carbon tax, saving the average household around $550 a year, including $200 on the average household electricity bill and $70 on the average gas bill. So for the families living in Nambour, near where I live, Hervey Bay, Townsville or wherever, getting rid of the carbon tax has meant real differences in their wallets and purses.

I was up in Karumba a few weeks ago with Senator Canavan and we heard from some fishermen and fisherwomen about the impact of the carbon tax on refrigeration and how much their costs have gone down since the abolition of the carbon tax. In my home state of Queensland, electricity prices are 9.4 per cent lower than they would have been if Labor and the Greens had had their way.

This government is already delivering on Australia's commitment to reduce emissions by five per cent on 2000 levels by 2020 without a carbon tax. This government's approach is to provide positive local environmental outcomes that reduce emissions in Australia, rather than imposing an economy-wide tax that drives up power prices and sends taxpayer dollars overseas—the position advocated by the Greens.

The government's $2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund will help businesses and communities across Australia enjoy the benefits of a cleaner environment and help us to meet our 2020 emissions reduction target. The Emissions Reduction Fund is a buyback model based on activities that actually reduce emissions. This is the basis of the largest and arguably the most effective system in the world, the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism, which to date has generated approximately 1.4 billion tonnes of emissions reductions—something the Greens surely would have no objection to. Competitive auctions will be held, and the government will enter into contracts to buy emissions reductions from successful bidders at the lowest cost, and payment for abatement will only be made when emissions reductions are actually delivered.

Our community-led Green Army projects will also support practical, grassroots environment and heritage conservation activities, which will make a real difference to the environment and local communities, while providing meaningful training and skills to young people. The opposition of Labor and the Greens to these practical solutions only highlights their hypocrisy when it comes to climate change.

The government has always said that it would take into account the action taken by the world's major emitters and our trading partners when considering Australia's post-2020 emissions reductions targets before next year's Paris climate conference, given that we only account for 1.3 per cent of global emissions. As such, it is on the record that the government has welcomed the announcement by the United States and China to reduce or cap emissions, with those countries accounting for 15 and 24 per cent of global emissions, respectively. It is a positive step in the right direction but it must be met with firm action.

I note that, in discussing the US-China agreement, US President Barack Obama expressed concern for the Great Barrier Reef—a natural wonder and a source of tourism jobs in my home state of Queensland. However, instead of high-minded rhetoric—and President Obama is well known for his rhetoric rather than delivering what he talks about—we have got to look at how we get to this, and it has taken Obama over six years to reach this agreement with China on reducing emissions.

In contrast, in addition to our Direct Action Plan, our government has made tangible commitments to securing the future of the Great Barrier Reef rather than just talking about it. The federal coalition government and the Queensland LNP government—led by Campbell Newman and Andrew Powell, my local state member—are developing the Reef 2050 Plan to guide sustainability and management of the Great Barrier Reef over the next 36 years.

It is the federal coalition government and the Queensland LNP government that is investing in the Reef Trust with a $40 million initial investment from this government to help improve water quality and coastal habitat along the Great Barrier Reef; control crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks—and they have been responsible for 42 per cent of coral loss since 1985; and protect threatened and migratory species, particularly dugong and turtles. These are practical steps to ensure the reef's future for years to come, not words and platitudes from a visiting head of state.

It is important to remember that we cannot deal with the challenges posed by climate change or any other problem unless we have a strong economy and a healthy budget position—and this is what the G20 was all about. Instead of the Greens or Labor being all embarrassed like spotty teenagers going out with their parents, we should very proud of what the G20 did on the weekend.

It highlighted Brisbane—I am very proud to say this as a Queenslander—as being one of the world's great cities. It also shone the light on Queensland—and Australia—and our beautiful climate, and that we are open for business. That is the real story that has come out of the G20, not climate change—it is what the world's economies are doing to push economic growth and create jobs, and what the Prime Minister of India, the President of China and the Prime Minister of the UK have been talking about. It is about jobs for people. It is about creating economic growth. The work that the Queensland government, the Brisbane City Council and the Australian government did on the G20, I think, is fantastic.

As G20 President, Australia has led with the development of an agreed Brisbane Action Plan of over 1,000 measures to boost the world economy by an additional 2.1 per cent over the coming five years—that is an extra $2 trillion into the world economy and millions of new jobs. By strengthening the world economy, we support job creation at home and drive the economic gains that will help to repair the budget.

Graham Quirk, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, has estimated that the G20 pumped $100 million into the local economy of Brisbane—and that is not counting all the people watching CNN or listening to the BBC World Service thinking: 'I might go to Australia for a holiday' or 'I might move to Australia and start a business there'.

For the time being, with Labor's red ink still running through the books, Australia will not make a contribution to the Green Climate Fund at this time but will instead continue to prioritise climate mitigation assistance through our aid development program. Through direct action locally, international engagement and our aid program, Australia is playing its part in an effective international response to climate change.

The Greens are embarrassed about what happened on the weekend; I am not. I am very proud about what happened. I think our Prime Minister did a fantastic job. I think all the people involved with the G20 did a fantastic job. Instead of talking and moving pointless motions like this, perhaps the Greens could work with the government and act like adults to make sure we have practical environmental protection in this country but not at the expense of growing our economy.