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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 October 2010) . . Page.. 4659 ..


Rather than dwell on the mistakes and failures of the past, it is worth while to reflect on how we got to where we are today and where this change will take us. Fifteen years ago, those who propounded the need to urgently address the impending tragedy that climate change will bring were labelled, criticised and ridiculed by those who did not want to face up to the problem. Deniers tried to brand climate change as just some new leftie environmental ideology. We now know—the science clearly shows—that the planet is warming and that it is our greenhouse gas emissions that are causing it. The only ideologues now are those left hanging to the barest threads of climate change denial, funded by vested interests and blinded by short-term profits. The only ones who do not see are the ones who refuse to objectively evaluate the science.

It is only because of those who are prepared to come to the matter with an open mind and evaluate the science objectively that we are here debating this bill today. There have been many agitators, and they all deserve our sincerest thanks for their persistence and tireless efforts in advocating for the most pressing cause we face this century. Thanks to their efforts, in the ACT at least we are no longer having a debate about the science, the moral imperative or the great urgency for meaningful emissions reduction.

What today’s debate does show is that we are a progressive jurisdiction, and the fact that the question before us is whether we should adopt a 30 per cent or a 40 per cent target reflects very well indeed on the ACT. That said, it must be remembered that, as much as any other jurisdiction in the world, we are proportionately responsible for causing climate change and we are the ones who should be taking the most significant steps to reduce our negative impact on the planet.

It must also be made abundantly clear that we are only having the debate today because of the Greens. The Greens are the political party that have driven this issue across Australian parliaments, the only party that have advocated for meaningful action on climate change for the past two decades. We made it the first policy outcome in the parliamentary agreement with the ACT government, with the ALP. I must say that I am immensely proud and pleased that the commitment made in that agreement is being fulfilled this week.

Equally, as I mentioned earlier, it must be said that the credit also belongs to the many hundreds, if not thousands, of Canberrans that have devoted many thousands of hours working for change and also to the many thousands of Canberrans that have turned out to actively say they want real action on climate change. It is because of these people—they have advocated, participated and voted for the Greens—that we are having this debate today. We all know about the devastating impacts climate change will have, not only on the environment but on just about every aspect of our economy and society.

As has been indicated, the Greens will not be supporting the Liberals’ bill. It is not consistent with current science and does not represent the best way forward for the ACT. There are important initiatives within the bill, but equally there are some unworkable provisions. On balance, the bill presented by the government, with the Greens’ amendments that will be moved during the detail stage, represents the most appropriate way forward.


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