April 27, 2016

In the summer of 2009, it was easy to feel despondent about global action on climate change. The Copenhagen Conference had ended in division and profound disappointment. Opponents of climate action were on the march around the world – and in the Liberal Party room.

Only six years later – the blink of an eye in most multilateral processes – we are still basking in the warm afterglow of a remarkably successful climate change Conference in Paris.

An agreement that all nations, not just developed nations, would take action to keep global warming well below two degrees above pre-industrial levels, as well as a more qualified commitment around a 1.5 degree threshold.

The fact that we find ourselves globally in a position that I think most people six years ago would not have imagined possible is a reflection not just of clever Conference management. Instead, the Paris Agreement reflects the fact that, across the world, nations are moving to harness the opportunities of a clean energy future. 

Last year, investment in renewable energy was greater than the combined investment in coal, nuclear, gas and hydro power.  China invested considerably more in renewable energy than the combined investment from the United States and the European Union.  India also has very ambitious investment targets, particularly in solar power.  In the United States, 200 of their 500 or so coal fired power stations have either closed in the last five years or have had a target date set for that closure.  And in the United Kingdom, the Cameron Government only recently announced that their last coal fired power station will close by 2023. 

These are all hard-headed decisions by national Governments that are aimed at positioning their economies and their people for the largest share possible of the enormous jobs and investment opportunities that flow from a clean energy future.  They also reflect a hard-headed recognition that, as the Governor of the Bank of England said in September, ‘climate change will threaten financial resilience and long term prosperity. And while there is time to act, the window is finite and it’s shrinking’. 

The time for debating whether we should take action is past. The debate around the world, and in most corporate boardrooms, has shifted instead to asking –

What do we need to do, and how fast do we need to do it?

Labor’s Record

During Labor’s last term in office, wind power in Australia tripled.  We went from a position in 2007, where only 7400 Australian households had rooftop solar panels, to 1.3 million installations six years later - and it’s continued to climb.  With the support of the CEFC and ARENA, we were able to approve the largest windfarm in the Southern hemisphere in Victoria, and the largest PV solar farm in the Southern hemisphere in New South Wales.  Jobs in the renewable energy industry tripled.

By the end of the last Labor Government, Australia was rated as one of the four most attractive places in the world to invest in renewable energy projects – along with China, the US and Germany. And our carbon pollution levels had come down by 8%.

That progress has all been wound back by Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull.

  • Australia has plunged from the 4th most attractive destination for renewable energy investment to 13th.
  • In 2014, investment in large-scale renewables plummeted by 88%, with hundreds of jobs lost.

For the first time in a decade, Australia’s carbon pollution levels rose in 2014/15. Carbon pollution from the electricity sector has jumped by 5.5% in less than two years. And in December 2015, the Turnbull Government released data confirming that pollution levels will continue to rise under Mr Turnbull’s Direct Action policy. The Government projects that Australia’s pollution levels in 2020 will be 6% above 2000 levels – nowhere near the 5% below 2000 levels committed by both major parties.

And the change in Prime Minister from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull has meant nothing in this area. In order to win the Liberal leadership last year, Malcolm Turnbull committed to his Party room that Tony Abbott’s policies would be left untouched – completely contradicting his assessment in 2009 that Mr Abbott’s policy was nothing more than a “figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing”.

Challenges and Opportunities for Australia

The transition to a clean energy future presents huge challenges for a country like Australia, as well as very significant opportunities.  The challenges largely flow from our highly emissions intensive economy.  In large part this reflects an economy that has been built on coal fired power, as well as the energy intensive manufacturing operations that tend to be attracted to the abundant and cheap power produced by coal. Of course, our emissions profile is also impacted by other sectors of the economy; land use, transport, the mining sector and the like.

The transition to clean energy around the world is already presenting a deep challenge to our economy, particularly as a major coal exporter.  As the world shifts to renewable energy and other low emissions sources of power such as nuclear and gas, the coal market is in steep decline.  The Queensland Resources Council reports that more than half of the thermal coal mines in Queensland operate at a loss. Thousands of jobs have been lost. 

But in the domestic market, coal is still king, powering more than three quarters of Australia’s electricity.  As a result, our electricity sector produces more carbon pollution per megawatt hour than China’s and about 87% more than the OECD average.  Electricity generation in Australia is the single biggest source of carbon pollution, accounting for one third of our national total.

It simply must get cleaner. 

And herein lies the opportunity. Because in electricity, unlike many other sectors of the economy, cleaner technology to produce power already exists; and it’s constantly getting better and it’s constantly getting cheaper. 

Australia is also blessed by the fact we don’t just have lots of coal, gas and uranium. We also have some of the best renewable energy resources on the face of the earth.  We have great solar radiation, extraordinary wind resources and, especially in the Southern ocean, some of the best wave energy.  And, over many years, we’ve consistently demonstrated we have some of the best minds and most innovative businesses - hungry to drive this transition to a clean energy future. 

Labor’s Consultations about Climate and Energy Policy

Over the past few months, I’ve been sitting down with industry, unions, community and environment groups, and local councils – to talk about Labor’s policies on climate change and energy. I’ve held around 50 sessions with different sectors, visiting a number of the regions of Australia that are on the frontline in this transition – the Collie Valley in WA, Latrobe Valley in Victoria, and the Illawarra and Hunter in NSW.

The Labor Opposition was completely excluded by Mr Abbott last year from his Government’s development of a 2030 emissions reduction target – a target that purported to cover future Coalition and Labor Governments. When we were in government, by contrast, we engaged the then Liberal Opposition about the Kyoto Protocol targets in order to reach a bipartisan position.  As a result, we decided last year that it was proper for us to undertake our own deliberative process. And we decided it was appropriate to use the expert Climate Change Authority’s recommendations as the basis of our consultations. As people broadly know, the Authority undertook a long, public process to reach those final recommendations, including the publication of a draft report.

My recent consultations have confirmed that all stakeholders broadly accept the central element of the Paris Agreement – that global warming must be kept to well below two degrees Celsius. And they agree that Australia has a responsibility to do its fair share to discharge that commitment.

It’s fair to say that there are different views about what Australia’s emissions reduction target in 2030 should be. Environment groups argue that our target should be for a 65-85% emissions reduction on 2005 levels by 2030. Some other stakeholders – mainly in business – argue instead that we should be more cautious than ambitious; and that we should keep a sharp eye on what nations that compete with Australia in heavy industry are doing. Most stakeholders, though, wanted to spend the time we had in our sessions talking – not about targets – but about how we’d get there. Those discussions and debates about the design of effective climate change and energy policy have been enormously influential in the policies we’ve announced today.

Sharing the Task Fairly with other Generations – Emission Reduction Targets

Labor is committed to ensuring that Australia fulfills the promise made to future generations that we will do our fair share of work to keep global warming well below two degrees Celsius. That means putting in place long-term policies that ensure that Australia produces net zero emissions by 2050.

It also means setting a credible – but sufficiently ambitious – medium term target that ensures we don’t simply hand all of the hard work to our children and grandchildren.

Australia’s action to cut pollution should be consistent with other developed countries to which we usually compare ourselves – like the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and the like. Many sectors of the Australian economy trade in global markets against competitors in the developing world. That fact doesn’t mean we shouldn’t compare our overall action with similar OECD nations, but it does reinforce the need for intelligent policy design to support the competitiveness of our emissions-intensive, trade-exposed (EITE) sector.

Climate Change Authority advice demonstrates that the Turnbull commitment  to a 26-28% reduction on 2005 levels falls short of those made by the US, UK, Canada, Germany and a number of other European nations – in some cases, by a considerable margin. The Climate Change Authority’s recommendation for a minimum 45% reduction over that period is consistent with Germany and Norway, lower than the UK, and higher than the US and Canada – although those two nations are likely to increase their 2030 commitments. The Authority’s proposed target would also see Australia’s per capita emissions in 2030 either the highest or second highest among OECD nations, depending on the scale of action ultimately pledged by Canada.

A Fair Share of Australia’s “Carbon Budget” Between Generations

Another – frankly more compelling – way of expressing the link between future rates of carbon pollution and the “two degree” threshold is the “carbon budget”. The world’s scientists advise us that a likely chance of avoiding two degrees of global warming depends on limiting the amount of carbon pollution released into the atmosphere between 2000 and 2050 to no more than 1.7 trillion tonnes – the global “carbon budget”.

The Climate Change Authority advises about 9 billion tonnes remains in Australia’s share of that “carbon budget” for the period 2015 to 2050.

If Australia adopts the Climate Change Authority’s minimum position for 2030, and that reduction starts immediately, Australia by 2030 will have used about three quarters of the 35 year “carbon budget” in just 15 years.

The position is even more pronounced with the Turnbull target.  In that case, Australia will have exhausted almost 85% of the 2050 budget - reinforcing the point that this decision is ultimately one of burden-sharing between generations. 

The less we do, the more we expect of our children!

Labor accepts the considered advice of the Climate Change Authority that Australia’s emissions reduction target for 2030 should be 45% below 2005 levels; a reduction equivalent to 40% on 2015 levels. That medium term target is consistent with scientific advice, comparable to other relevant nations and a fair contribution by our generation towards the longer term target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

We understand that our decision to adopt a target different to Malcolm Turnbull presents some challenges. Unlike Labor’s approach in relation to the 2020 target under the Kyoto Protocol, Malcolm Turnbull made no attempt to engage the Labor Opposition before lodging his target as the Australian position at the Paris Conference.

The Paris Agreement establishes a “facilitative dialogue” between 2018 and 2020 to review and update the national targets. If elected, Labor will commission formal advice to allow Australia’s 2030 target within the Paris Agreement to be increased as part of that review process.

Labor’s Climate Change Action Plan

Today, Labor released a comprehensive plan to combat climate change by getting Australia’s pollution levels back under control and ensuring that Australian business and workers are in the best position possible to benefit from the huge investment and job opportunities that come from a renewable energy and clean technology future.  Labor’s policy is underpinned by our fundamental commitment to fairness, ensuring that Australians are supported through this transition and no one is left behind.

Our Climate Action Plan provides an ambitious pathway for an orderly transition to a low pollution economy through six key elements:

  1. Making Australia a leading renewable energy economy - ensuring that at least 50% of the nation’s electricity is sourced from renewable energy by 2030, expanding the investment mandate of the CEFC, and developing new community energy projects.
  2. Cleaner power generation - ensuring that the transition in Australia’s electricity generation from old heavily polluting coal fired power stations to modern clean energy is an orderly transition, with meaningful support for workers and communities.
  3. Building on Jobs and Industry - maximising the job opportunities from clean energy and clean technology, while also securing the future of critical Australian industries through a Strategic Industries Task Force.
  4. Cutting Pollution – through an Emission Trading Scheme, placing a legal cap on the emissions of the largest polluters through a “cap and offsets” scheme, while supporting industry by ensuring access to international carbon offsets.
  5. Carbon Capture on the Land - reinvigorating the Carbon Farming Initiative to encourage carbon storage on the lend and in agriculture, and taking decisive action to deal with broad-scale land clearing.
  6. Higher Energy Productivity and Efficiency – doubling Australia’s national energy productivity by 2030 and introducing new emission standards for motor vehicles to cut pollution on our roads.

A Renewable Energy Superpower Again

Labor’s commitment to ensure that at least 50% of the nation’s electricity is renewable by 2030 is central to our ambition for Australia to reclaim its place among the top 5 renewable energy nations in the world. We’ll consider international developments in this policy area in detail before deciding on a mechanism for the coming decade.  For some time, I’ve been clear that we’re open to mechanisms other than the retailer obligation that underpins the 2020 Renewable Energy Target.  Legislation governing post-2020 arrangements will be introduced to Parliament in late 2017. It will obviously be designed in a way that does not disturb investor sentiment around the delivery of the existing RET.


After failing in its attempts simply to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Government has sought to hamper the Corporation’s work by imposing ridiculous restrictions on its Mandate.  Labor will remove those restrictions, returning the CEFC to its original Mandate and lock it in for the full course of the next term of Parliament. Labor will also continue the Clean Energy Innovation Fund announced recently by Mr Turnbull.

In addition to the work allocated to ARENA under the Clean Energy Innovation Fund, Labor will inject $200 million for ARENA to undertake a specific Concentrated Solar Thermal round of funding. This will obviously be of particular interest to the Re-Power campaign in Port Augusta. But Solar Thermal is more broadly an important emerging technology which allows storage of solar power for dispatch at later, peak demand times. It is critically important that Australia develop a capacity in this technology that allows the cost to come down to a point that is economic without grant funding. Labor’s commitment will allow that to happen in a way that Mr Turnbull’s Innovation Fund will not.

While Australia has led the world in the adoption of small-scale renewables – particularly rooftop PV solar panels.  There are real barriers to being a part of the solar revolution for Australians in rental accommodation, social housing or apartment-style living. It’s a basic question of equity for Labor that we start to break down those barriers.

To that end, Labor in Government will create a Community Power Network. The Network will oversee the development of Community Power Hubs that will work in communities to support the development of local projects to address local needs. Labor in Government will also provide start-up funding to help kick-start clean energy projects across Australia. Those projects could include ‘solar gardens’ for renters, community renewable energy projects, energy efficiency programs in social housing – and more.

And to directly drive investment in renewable energy, a Labor Government will negotiate Power Purchase Agreements to bring Commonwealth energy use up to 50% renewable energy by 2030.

Cleaning up the Power Sector

Electricity policy has been driven historically by two overarching objectives; the reliability of supply and affordability. But climate change and local pollution concerns have now added a third public policy imperative – the carbon footprint. At the same time, the traditional business model of large generators dominating the system is being disrupted by innovations like rooftop generation, as well as emerging storage options.

Most of Australia is covered by the National Electricity Market (NEM) which was introduced through the 1990s. At the time, there were only a couple of thousand households with PV solar panels on their roof (compared to 1.5 million today) and negligible generation from wind power in Australia. The long-standing dynamics of the Australian market– growing demand and price stability - were still in place. Understandably in those circumstances, the NEM architecture and rules were built on the traditional drivers and assumptions of electricity policy.

The NEM rules and operations are all driven by the National Electricity Objective. And neither the overarching Objective of the NEM, nor its rules, reflect in any way that third driver of modern electricity policy – the imperative to cut carbon pollution.

Accordingly, Labor in Government will initiate a broad review of the NEM – the “Electricity Modernisation Review” - to ensure that its Objective, rules and operations are consistent with the needs of Australian consumers in the 21st Century. In particular, that Review will ensure that the system takes proper account of the need to decarbonise electricity generation - and of modern trends in electricity, including distribution and storage. The Review will also advise the Government on a longer-term framework for the orderly transition from heavily polluting coal-fired power.

Labor will consult with the COAG Energy Council, NEM agencies, the industry, unions and users about the conduct of the Electricity Modernisation Review. The Review will commence by the end of 2016 with its Report to be finalised within 12 months.

Labor has also decided that electricity generators should be subject to arrangements separate from the rest of the large emitters that will be covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Labor intends to implement the model proposed last year by the Australian Energy Market Commission. Under the AEMC model, each generator will be allocated a pollution “cap” that is calculated according to a sector-wide emissions intensity baseline – effectively reflecting an industry average. Cleaner generators will be able to sell credits to those generators that operate above the baseline. The scheme establishes a fully internalised market in carbon which, according to the AEMC, will operate “without a significant effect on absolute price levels faced by consumers”.  That scheme will commence on July 1 2018.

A “Just Transition” from Coal Fired Power

If Australia is to achieve its international commitments to cut carbon pollution levels – and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 – it is essential to develop an orderly process to decarbonise the electricity sector.  This process requires an orderly transition from heavily polluting coal-fired power to modern, clean power sources – particularly renewable energy.

Labor will introduce a framework to kickstart the closure of the older, heaviest polluting generators consistent with the principles set out in our policy documents.  Labor will also develop a longer term framework to drive that transition, based on advice from the Electricity Modernisation Review.

Labor will not use taxpayers money to pay electricity companies to close their generators. 

Labor will develop a market based mechanism to kickstart the closure of some of the oldest, most heavily polluting plant.  Such a mechanism was proposed last year by the ANU and has been the subject of considerable attention within the industry.

A central principle of the Paris Agreement is that Government must ensure that the transition to a clean energy future is a “Just Transition” for impacted workers and communities. The “Just Transition” commitment is consistent with Labor’s longstanding approach to dealing with the impact of economic change on workers and communities, exemplified by the Hawke and Keating Governments. The Labor mission has always been – not just about breaking down the structural inequalities in society – but also ensuring that the big transitions that inevitably emerge are managed in a way that doesn’t leave particular groups behind; and ensures that everyone gets a chance at the opportunities that come with change. This transition will impact some communities deeply; just ask the people of Port Augusta and Leigh Creek. Labor will stand by those communities and workers.

Labor will establish a Just Transition Unit in Government to co-ordinate the work of different Commonwealth agencies around the implementation of that element of the Paris Agreement. The Unit’s work will focus initially on transition in the electricity sector, and will draw on advice from a tripartite Council that brings together governments (including local government), industry and unions.

Our policy document set out some principles that will guide Labor’s approach to employment impacts from this transition.

“Just Transition” also demands a proactive program of economic diversification for impacted regions and communities. Labor will work with relevant State and Local Governments and business to develop these programs – which will be factored in to the market-based approach to orderly closure proposed by the ANU.

Labor’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)

Perhaps the central problem with Malcolm Turnbull’s Direct Action policy is its failure to provide any control or discipline on Australia’s largest polluters. Around the world, country after country has demonstrated that the most efficient and effective way to achieve those cuts in pollution is through an ETS that caps emission levels – and then lets business work out the cheapest and most effective way to operate within that cap.

Consistent with our long-standing policy position, Labor will introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme with two distinct phases. The first phase is designed to get Australia’s pollution levels back under control and to establish the architecture for an enduring ETS. The second phase will then drive the long-term transition in our economy. As I explained earlier, the electricity generation sector will be subject to a separate, ongoing scheme developed by the AEMC.

The first phase of the ETS will impose a “cap” on carbon pollution produced by entities emitting more than 25,000 tonnes per year. This “cap” will reflect an appropriate proportion of the limits on pollution required to achieve the bipartisan commitment to ensure that carbon pollution levels in 2020 are 5% lower than 2000. These arrangements will be finalised in Government and implemented by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER).

Phase one of Labor’s ETS will reflect a “cap and offsets” model.  No price will be imposed by Government on carbon pollution under this phase. Liable entities will not be required to purchase or receive permits to operate. But, where a liable entity breaches or exceeds its “cap”, it will be required to provide the CER with an equivalent number of “carbon offsets” for that year. The CER will publish rules governing the types of offsets that are eligible under phase one, including access to international offsets approved under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism as well as Australian offsets approved through mechanisms like a reinvigorated Carbon Farming Initiative.

Given that Australia’s emissions intensive, trade-exposed – or EITE - sector competes in vigorous global markets, those companies will be allowed unlimited access to approved international offsets under phase one of the ETS.  This “cap and offsets” model will limit any effective carbon price for EITE businesses that breach their cap to a small fraction of a dollar per tonne of pollution.

Labor will introduce an ongoing Emissions Trading Scheme from 1 July 2020. Under phase two of Labor’s ETS, pollution levels will be capped and cut over the course of the decade in line with Australia’s international commitments under the Paris Agreement.

The design of the 2020 ETS will be finalised during the 2016-2019 Parliament, to commence after the 2019 election. Those details will include rules governing the allocation of caps to liable entities, access to international markets (including the possibility of formal linkage to other schemes), the operation of the domestic offsets market and the like. The design process will also include advice from the Strategic Industries Taskforce.

Securing Jobs in a Clean Energy Future

There are important strategic reasons for Australia continuing to have a domestic capability in industries like steel-making, cement, aluminium and others. These industries are highly trade-exposed – competing in the main with developing countries like China. And many don’t have a technological change on the horizon that will substantially reduce their inherent emissions intensity.  No global environmental purpose is served by those operations simply closing in Australia and being picked up by another nation.

Labor will establish a Strategic Industries Taskforce to undertake in-depth engagement with those industries to identify options to support their future competitiveness. The Taskforce will provide advice to government grounded in practical industry thinking and tailored to the unique needs of each sector - seeking to blend the objectives of maintaining a vibrant industry base in Australia with our national emissions reduction task.  The recommendations of the Taskforce will then help inform the design and rules for the Emissions Trading Scheme commencing in 2020.

Responsible Management of our Land Sector

Australia only achieved our first commitment under the Kyoto Protocol because of a huge reduction in land sector emissions.  Australia’s land sector emissions were around 135 million tonnes in 1990 or around one quarter of the national total.  By 2014, they had plummeted to just 14mt. That huge reduction was overwhelmingly due to land clearing restrictions introduced in Queensland by Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh (supported by John Howard who understood the benefits in achieving the Kyoto commitment).

While Campbell Newman had promised to retain those land clearing laws, he reneged on that promise shortly after taking office.  Following the Newman Government’s repeal of Labor’s reforms, clearing in Queensland jumped more than threefold.  The Queensland Auditor-General has reported that clearing in the Great Barrier Reef catchment areas increased by 230%, with obvious implications for run-off onto the Reef as well as carbon emissions.

Those reductions in land sector emissions in Queensland underpinned a substantial part of Australia’s international commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. The unpicking of those reforms by the Newman Government had a direct impact on the treaty obligations the Commonwealth undertook on behalf of the nation.

Labor will introduce a “climate trigger” in federal legislation to allow the Commonwealth to regulate broad-scale land clearing across the nation.  In relation to Queensland, our intention is to restore the land-clearing laws that were in place before the election of the Newman Government – reflecting the policy of the Palaszczuk Government.

Labor will also explore other ways of ensuring that State land clearing laws are consistent with Australia’s international obligations and commitments; including by re-invigorating COAG’s National Vegetation Management Framework. That will require the adoption of consistent reporting of land and tree clearing across States, in line with best practice in this area – which has traditionally been the Queensland SLATS Scheme verified by field reporting.

Doubling Australia’s Energy Productivity and Efficiency

Energy Efficiency - or Productivity - is often described as the “fifth fuel” - after coal, gas, nuclear and renewable energy. Strong performance in this area has multiple benefits; cutting pollution, reducing costs for households and business, and improving the overall productivity of the nation’s economy.

Australia’s energy productivity improvements in recent years have been poor, against both OECD and G20 averages. Over the past two decades, for example, China has improved its energy productivity twice as fast as Australia. We currently sit in the bottom quartile of OECD nations on this important economic measure.

In December, the Turnbull Government announced a weak plan to improve Australia’s national energy productivity by just 40% from 2015 to 2030. Such a target would see Australia slip even further behind our global competitors.  President Obama, by contrast, has introduced a plan for the United States to double its energy productivity between 2010 and 2030. And an Alliance of business groups and NGOs has called for Australia to match that ambition - an Alliance that includes some of Australia’s most important business voices, such as the BCA, ACCI, AIG, AGL, Lend Lease and others.

Labor will introduce a comprehensive strategy to double Australia’s energy productivity by 2030 on 2010 levels.  This Strategy will build on the COAG Energy Council’s National Energy Productivity Plan and draw on the work of the Alliance, Local Government and other groups.

Cutting Pollution on our Roads with Cleaner Cars

An important part of improving energy productivity is found on our roads.

Australia is now one of the last developed nations without mandatory emissions standards on light vehicles. Car companies are able to sell dirtier versions of their global brands in Australia than they can in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan. That needs to change.

Labor will introduce mandatory light vehicle emission standards, consistent with advice from the Climate Change Authority. Those standards will be phased-in from 2018 and will cut the emissions intensity for all light vehicles by almost one half - by 2025. The Authority’s advice is contained in a 2014 Report and aligns with standards being introduced by President Obama in the United States. In my consultations with industry and automobile associations, a consensus view was put that the American standards were more appropriate to the nature of the Australian vehicle fleet than the European standards. We have accepted that view.

The Authority predicts that these changes would:

  • Deliver fuel savings of $830 in the first year
  • Save $8,500 in fuel costs over the life of the car, with a net lifetime saving of $7000

In addition to introducing light vehicle standards, Labor will put in place policies to encourage the growth of low emissions vehicles such as those powered by electricity or Hydrogen.

And to drive better energy productivity in large infrastructure, Anthony Albanese announced in March that a Shorten Labor government would toughen assessment of proposed major infrastructure projects by requiring the incorporation of smart infrastructure technology and sustainability measures before projects qualify for Commonwealth funding.


Labor has thought deeply about this policy – and we’ve consulted deeply, with all stakeholders, across a broad range of industries, viewpoints and regions. We’ve obviously also reflected on our previous two attempts to introduce reform in this area. Our first attempt – the CPRS – was stymied by a leadership coup in the Liberal Party room, followed by an unusual alliance between Tony Abbott and Bob Brown in the Senate. Our second attempt got through the Parliament, only to be repealed by Mr Abbott within two years. We’ve reflected on mistakes Labor made in the design and the presentation of those reforms.

An almost universal plea from business in our consultations was for there to be greater consensus and investor certainty in this policy space. Many climate and environmental organisations have made the same plea.  There is, I think, a quiet recognition that the consensus that existed until Mr Turnbull was replaced as Liberal leader in 2009 was not just broken in the Parliament – that business, the media and others played a role too.

There is almost no democracy in the world which has a strong climate policy, where it is not underpinned by broad bipartisan support.  The scale of change required by the commitments our nation has made in the Paris Agreement demands a greater level of consensus than has existed in the past three Parliaments. Investors will not put money on the table to drive those changes if they think that legislative reform is a swinging pendulum.

Labor is putting a Climate Change Action Plan before the Australian people that will get Australia back on to the path to a clean energy future; but it’s also the type of Plan that Malcolm Turnbull should embrace – forging the consensus for change we need in this country instead of kow-towing to the Abbott-right in the Liberal Party. In his heart, Mr Turnbull knows that Direct Action isn’t working, that he needs a plan for renewable energy to grow beyond 2020, and that we need to get broad-scale land clearing back under control.

Ultimately, though, that’s a matter for Mr Turnbull to work through. Whatever he decides to do – Labor will make our case loudly and consistently for a strong Climate Change Action Plan for Australia.