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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 15 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 5610..


MS PORTER (continuing):

On 24 November 2009, the Bureau of Meteorology issued a special climate statement in recognition of the prolonged spring heatwave experienced over central and south-east Australia during November 2009. This last November was the hottest on record for many areas across south-east Australia. The heatwave started to be felt on the weekend of 5 November and continued unabated until 15 November. Following a mild change, even hotter conditions returned between 18 and 22 November. Record temperatures for this month were set across the region. Mean monthly temperatures were some 4.61 degrees above average in New South Wales. The heatwave was exceptional because of its length and because prolonged hot spells are rare in November, compared with summer and early autumn.

That is not the only story about locally warm conditions. At the close of our last winter, Canberra had experienced 17 consecutive winters with above-average maximum temperatures. The recent observations on our weather provide further evidence to back up the findings of the scientists.

While the science is increasingly clear, there are some who still deny that there is a climate change problem. It should be noted that several progressive-minded members and senators from the federal opposition accept the compelling scientific evidence that climate action is required to address climate change. However, it is with great regret that I read today that a fellow Canberran is apparently willing to sell his soul for a position on the federal shadow frontbench. The stance that Senator Humphries has previously articulated has been cast aside—sold out for the opportunity to sit alongside his climate-sceptic, extremist colleagues on the frontbench.

In an interview on Lateline just over a week ago, Senator Humphries exhorted members of the Senate to "reflect what their electorates are telling them". He said:

Mine is certainly saying to me it wants to be in support of a mechanism to deal with climate change ...

I do not believe that Mr Humphries's elevation to the frontbench is Mr Abbott's way of incorporating moderates. Rather, I believe that Mr Humphries is turning his back on what his electorate is telling him, in order to advance his career. I wonder what Mr Abbott's electorate are telling him. Just yesterday, in an interview with Alan Jones, Mr Abbott said:

... over the last decade, the world's warming has stopped.

Such pronouncements are evidently part of a strategy that Mr Abbott hopes will buy himself time—time that humanity cannot afford to lose. Denying this problem and failing to act will make the task of addressing climate change more difficult and more costly. In his report to the Australian government, eminent economist Ross Garnaut said:

The case for strong mitigation is a conservative one. Even at the levels of mitigation that now seem to be the best possible, the challenges could be considerable. In the absence of mitigation, we can be reasonably sure that they would be bad beyond normal experience ... The consequences of inaction now are not ... reversible.


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