Parliament – energy and climate policy

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

f you listen to the minister, what becomes very, very clear is that he has no long-term vision for the future. He denies the absolutely core issue here: we need a long-term plan that reduces our carbon pollution and that provides reliability, bipartisan support and a system that will sustain us into the next 20 years. Instead, he’s cobbled together a number of initiatives that he tries to package up as a true climate change policy. But there is none. There is no climate change policy. For 10 years, I’ve sat in this House watching the Liberal Party and the National Party be wreckers when it comes to a long-term energy policy—a pol icy that will provide stability but will reduce our carbon pollution and that will sustain households and businesses into the future ; a policy for the future. There has been none from this government.

It is so sad to see them constantly in this state of flux with no long-term vision. I think they will be punished for this. I think they will be punished at the next election, because we know that businesses want certainty, residents want certainty and the community as a whole wants certainty when it comes to energy. They know it’s not sustainable to not address climate change. The community are not mugs. The Liberal Party and the National Party might treat them like mugs, but the community are not mugs. They know we need to do something about climate change. They know we need to reduce our emissions. We can’t keep burning fossil fuels forever. We need to transition, because that is what the future holds.

Of course, it is not only the Liberal and National parties that have failed to recognise this; it has also been the Nick Xenophon team. When it comes to education, Nick Xenophon is just another hue of blue, a Liberal through and through. And it is not only on schools funding, which he cut and cut and cut; it is also on energy policy. We have seen Nick Xenophon vote time and time again in this place not to actually deal with the issues that face us. Nick Xenophon voted against the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2009 and the clean energy bills, on which the sensible crossbench came together to negotiate. Nick Xenophon has voted no for any real action on climate change.

Some people would be quite surprised by this, because he often talks about the importance of renewable energy. Nick tries to ensure that renewable energy is at the forefront of people’s minds. That is what he tries to do. On the one hand he talks up renewable energy and on the other hand he rubbishes it. He was part of the gang of four that railed against renewable energy—John Madigan, Bob Day, Nick Xenophon and David Leyonhjelm. They were cheering when the then member for Warringah put in a full-time ‘wind commissioner’ to try and investigate. This was at the same time they cut the disability commissioner to a part-time position. All those who were experiencing discrimination for disability in their workplace—that didn’t need the attention of a commissioner, only a part-time commissioner. But wind energy needed a full-time commissioner. There has been no real, substantive evidence to show that windfarms cause the range of issues that Nick Xenophon has suggested. But that is because he likes to walk both sides of the fence.

Deep down, we know one thing is true about Nick Xenophon: he will vote with the Liberal Party time and time again. He will vote with the Liberal Party when it comes to schools and when it comes to energy. He used to be a member of the Liberal Party. If he gets power in South Australia, he will continue to vote with the Liberal Party. It is time voters knew the truth about Nick Xenophon. He can’t walk both sides of the fence. He must come clean and admit that he is against renewable energy and doesn’t support it one little bit.

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