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Christine Milne: Intergenerational Report ignores global warming - it must be rewritten

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Christine Milne 5 Mar 2015

The Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, addresses the Senate about the Abbott Government's decision to ignore global warming in their Intergnerational Report. She argues that you can't have true intergenerational reporting without examining global warming and pollution from fossil fuels.

Senator MILNE: I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Finance (Senator Cormann) to a question without notice asked by Senator Milne today relating to the 2015 Intergenerational Report.

I have to say that I am absolutely disgusted by the Intergenerational report that the government has put out today. Senator Cormann made it very clear that he does not care. He simply does not care that they have put out a document which is based on no modelling whatsoever. It is just a Liberal Party pamphlet, and I will go into the detail of that.

I asked Senator Cormann to explain why the 2010 Intergenerational report said that climate change represented one of the most significant challenges to economic sustainability. I asked him what had happened in the last five years such that now it has no reference to economic sustainability. What did he do? He refused to answer the question. He went nowhere near that question. The next question I asked him was: given the bulk of the text on the Emissions Reduction Fund, why wasn't there any modelling of this policy's growing drag on the budget? We are going to be paying the big polluters out of the taxpayers' pockets but there not a single dollar's modelling in there. He ignored that question as well. The last question went to the issue of what are the modelled costs of the impact of global warming on public health, emergency services, agricultural profitability, infrastructure, housing, insurance and defence? Why haven't we got the costings of global warming on all of those-given we have just had cyclones in Queensland smashing the infrastructure left, right and centre? In Western Australia, since 1 January this year, there have been 1,000 fires. Since 1 January this year, in eight or nine weeks, 1,000 fires have been reported in Western Australia and the latest report from the Climate Council has said that south-west Western Australia is drying out. It is becoming much more fire prone. It is getting to the point where it will be difficult for people to continue to live there, and that is because they will not be able to insure their property. This has serious impacts for water availability, infrastructure, human health-all of these things-and yet the government is pretending that global warming will have no impact out to 2055. The extraordinary thing is: this report devotes more time to the debt in Ireland than it does to global warming in Australia. What does that tell you about the junk that this report actually is?

We have got a Treasurer and a Prime Minister who have decided to use taxpayers' money to bring out an Intergenerational report which simply reframes their Liberal Party ideological agenda and they are going to insult the public even more by using taxpayers' dollars to run an advertising campaign to try to reboot the government. That is what this is about and it is junk. That is why this has to be rewritten. It needs to be rewritten because it has insulted every serious economist and every scientist in the country. Alan Pears, a highly regarded scientist, has come out and said that, if this were written 20 years ago, it might be reasonable. That is the kind of dump that is happening on this report from everyone who has a serious policy or evidence based background.

The amazing thing for me is that people keep saying, 'Oh, the Liberal Party manage the economy.' Really? The Liberal Party are not taking into account the two overwhelming threats identified by the World Economic Forum: global warming, the greatest challenge facing the planet, and wealth inequality. Those two things are coming at us left, right and centre and they are destabilising communities. Here in Australia we have a government which completely ignores global warming and wants to drive wealth inequality by attacking the poorest in our community, trying to get them to pay much more for health and education while letting the big end of town off the hook. We had another example of it this week when the government moved with Labor's support-to their shame, I must say-to give the mining industry another $100 million worth of exemptions and subsidies for exploration and to give the big end of town the benefit of the doubt: 'Oh, they simply were inadvertently making false claims on their tax.' It is disgraceful.

Question agreed to.


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