DOORSTOP: 4/5/19

May 04, 2019


MARK BUTLER: This election, in very significant part, is about which party is best positioned to respond to the challenge of climate change. The election so far has been very focused, for very understandable reasons, on what Australia is going to do to mitigate climate change. That is, to limit the impact of global warming or at least the level of global warming. But the Australian community is also dealing with the impacts of climate change that we are already feeling, and the impacts of climate change that are already locked into the system over the coming years and decades.

Today, I’m announcing a very important adaptation policy from the Labor Party to assist the Australian community in dealing with those impacts of climate change that are already happening. We know particularly that those impacts are probably going to be most seriously felt on our coast line, where 85 per cent of the Australian population lives. Sea level rise has been described as the sleeping giant of climate change and here in the Southern Ocean we see sea level rise rates at about twice the global average. We are also seeing evidence of increased wind energy on the Southern Ocean as a result of climate change, which is placing even more pressure on our southern coast lines. Labor has been working very closely with coastal councils, particularly the Coastal Councils Association, on what a Federal Government could do to assist coastal communities, and frankly other communities dealing with the impacts of climate change, deal with the adaptation challenge.

Today Labor is announcing a $62 million plan to assist the Australian community in managing the inevitable impacts of climate change. The Coalition Government, in contrast, completely defunded the former Labor Government’s adaptation program. A program that was driving research, planning and project funding as well for communities already dealing with these very, very serious impacts. What Labor’s plan today will do is deliver $12 million to reinvigorate the research and planning effort that was completely defunded, first by Tony Abbott in part, and then completely by Malcolm Turnbull. As well as a $50 million fund to assist in coastal resilience, to assist coastal communities and coastal councils to deal with those very serious impacts of climate change that we are already seeing.

This election is about which party is best placed to manage not just the impact of mitigating climate change, but also assisting local communities and local councils deal with those impacts that we simply are not going to be able to avoid.   

JOURNALIST: Mark, how does that tie in down here?

BUTLER: Here in South Australia, but frankly across our very broad coastline from here in the Southern Ocean right up to the Torres Strait, coastal communities and coastal councils are already dealing with sea level rise with increased wind energy and coastal erosion. We are seeing that, for example, at West Beach very prominently here in Adelaide. We are seeing impacts right across the country, and coastal communities are getting no support whatsoever from this Coalition Government.  

JOURNALIST:  Specifically in the Port River what are you doing?

BUTLER: Today we have also announced a $300,000 grant to Estuary Care, which is a great organisation that is also coming up with very innovative ways to make the Port River, or the Estuary particularly, more resilient to impacts of climate change as well – making the shoreline more resilient as it deals with much more energy in the system.

JOURNALIST: On other matters Mark, Labor’s candidate in Durack, Sharyn Murrow, posted online that “trouble maker refugees should go back to where they came from” is that a concern given the recent dynamics of what is happening?

BUTLER: This is a matter really that the party organisation is going to deal with. I haven’t seen those reports. I’m not in a position to respond to them.

JOURNALIST: But is there a concern that there are reports?

BUTLER: Of course these are reports that the party organisation would want to work through and talk to the candidate about.

JOURNALIST: How would you expect your party to respond?

BUTLER: I’m not across the detail of it so you would need to address that question to someone who is.

JOURNALIST: How confident are you that more Labor candidates won’t be dis-endorsed before the election is held?

BUTLER: I’m very confident that we have had a strong process to vet our candidates, their social media history and we are very confident with the slate of candidates we have going forward. It is a very professional, diverse set of candidates that have a great vision for Australia’s future.

JOURNALIST: Chris Bowen says the cost of the Budget of Labor’s climate change policies is half a billion dollars over ten years. Can you detail what the costs involve?

BUTLER: This has been published over the last few months. All of it has been approved and costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office, the independent Parliamentary Budget Office. The biggest part of our climate change policy in terms of government funding is a $300 million strategic industries fund that will hope those industries like steel, cement making and so many others that are critical to our economic future chart a pathway to that low-carbon future that the Australian community expects. 

JOURNALIST: Thank you.

BUTLER: Thank you.