DOORSTOP: 19/12/17

December 19, 2017






MARK BUTLER MP, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY, MEMBER FOR PORT ADELAIDE: For each of the three years that Malcolm Turnbull has been Prime Minister he has taken the deeply cynical decision to wait until the week before Christmas to sneak out Australia’s official report on its carbon pollution numbers. Malcolm Turnbull has done that again this year.

In the shadow of a Cabinet reshuffle, the mid-year budget review, and while Australian’s are busy doing their last minute Christmas shopping he has snuck out the 2017 report on Australia’s carbon pollution levels. When you look at those numbers you really do start to understand why he would sneak them out, because they are a shocking set of numbers.

The report from the Government today confirms that Australia will not meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the UN protocol on climate change. Australia committed to cut its carbon pollution levels under that protocol by 5 per cent between 2000 and 2020. This report confirms that by 2020 our carbon pollution levels will not have reduced at all against 2000 levels. Indeed, if you excluded accounting changes in forestry and land-use our pollution levels would  be much worse than they were in 2000.

The projections for the longer term, to 2030, are also shockingly disappointing. The Government, you will remember, committed in the Paris Conference in reducing its carbon pollution levels by 26-28 per cent between 2005 by 2030. This report shows that under Malcolm Turnbull’s policies we will get nowhere close, nowhere near an already inadequate target. Under this report we might reduce our carbon pollution levels by 5 per cent, not 26 or 28 per cent. 

JOURNALIST: It had to come out at some stage, would you have preferred that he sat on it?

BUTLER: It has been sat on for six months. This report is six months old, we would have expected it to be released at a time where it could have been properly analysed and subject to questioning through the Parliamentary process. This is just a cynical way of trying to sneak out numbers that reflect very poorly on Malcolm Turnbull.

Now Josh Frydenberg was out this morning boasting that Malcolm Turnbull was leading the world on climate change policy. What I would say to Josh Frydenberg is if these numbers reflect Malcolm Turnbull leading the world, than the world is in a hell of a mess.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BUTLER: It’s incredibly disappointing, Australia needs to do its fair share on the international stage to deliver on the Paris Agreement commitments to keep global warming well-below 2 degrees. It is part of our international commitments but perhaps just as importantly, or more importantly, it is a commitment our generation has to future generations of Australian’s and we are letting future generations down.

It should be no surprise we don’t have an energy policy that will reduce carbon pollution. We have an energy policy that Malcolm Turnbull promotes which is designed to strangle renewable energy. We don’t have a policy to clean up our transport system.

The Climate Change Review that was also released this morning contemplates that if anything, the Turnbull Government wants to make it easier for bigger polluters to start to increase their pollution levels, not to get them down.  

JOURNALIST: What do you think this is all about?

BUTLER: This is all about Malcolm Turnbull kowtowing to the hard-right of his Coalition Party Room. We know that a condition of him to become leader of the Liberal Party, and therefore Prime Minister of Australia, he had to promise not to touch Tony Abbott’s climate change and energy polices. We know that Tony Abbott’s policies were designed to let rip on carbon pollution and not to do anything about reducing it. That really is going to be Malcolm Turnbull’s legacy until he stands up to Tony Abbott and the hard-right and gets serious about climate change action. 

JOURNALIST: Standing in your position now what can you do about this?

BUTLER: We took to the last election a policy that would clean up our electricity system, that would see 50 per cent of Australia’s electricity generated from renewables by 2030. We took a policy that would clean up our light passenger vehicle fleet. We are now the only OECD country, the only developed economy that doesn’t have mandatory pollution restrictions on our car fleet, in our light commercial vehicle fleet. We would put limits on big industry pollution rather than letting it rip. 

JOURNALIST: It is easier said than done though; the money has to come from somewhere?

BUTLER: This is all difficult policy but we have technology going our way. We know that expanding renewable energy is not just the cleanest way to reduce electricity emissions but it is the most affordable way to renew our ageing electricity infrastructure. 

JOURNALIST: So do you think Turnbull did purposely sit on this and put it out now because it would be covered up by everything else going on?

BUTLER: He has done it every year he has been Prime Minister, cynically trying to sneak out figures just before Christmas in the hope no one would notice. Well we have noticed and any Australian who cares about climate change action has also noticed.

Under Malcolm Turnbull we are now pretty much the only major advanced economy where carbon pollution levels continue to go up, and up, and up – rather than coming down.

JOURNALIST: The latest Newspoll shows Nick Xenophon is fairing very well for the state election. What do you make of this; he says people are turning away from both major parties?

BUTLER: I don’t even comment on polls in my own jurisdiction in federal politics, but nice try.

JOURNALIST: It’s quite interesting though isn’t it?

BUTLER: As I’ve said I’m sure it’s interesting to a lot of commentators. For my part I don’t commentate on federal polls let alone state polls.

JOURNALIST: That’s not very interesting.

BUTLER: I’ll take that as a piece of commentary. Thanks very much.