In paying our respects to the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples today, let us also acknowledge some truths.
Aboriginal people, as we know, have a special connection with their country. That makes the impacts of climate change a particularly important issue for many First Nations people.
We must also acknowledge that climate change can and will worsen existing inequalities. Think of the impact of increased natural disasters, of flood and cyclone in remote communities where housing is already poor, and where isolation may be increased even further.
And think also of the acute impact of rising sea levels on our Torres Strait Island brothers and sisters, who already seeing sites of cultural significance literally washed away.
So, in acknowledging the stewardship of first peoples over our lands and waters for millennia, let us also acknowledge that the impact of climate change is another one of the many, many reasons for which First Nations peoples need and deserve a constitutionally-enshrined Voice to Parliament.
I also acknowledge and thank a couple of special guests.
I’m honoured that the Chief Minister of the ACT, my friend Andrew Barr has joined us today.
Under the Chief Minister’s leadership, the ACT is delivering one of Australia’s most ambitious climate agendas, with a commitment to net zero by 2045.
He’s also joined by two of my federal colleagues from the ACT, Senator Katy Gallagher and Member for Canberra Alicia Payne.
Katy and Alicia have been consistent advocates for the fact that climate action is good for our capital and good for our country, and I thank them both.
I also want to thank Pat Conroy for coming today.
Pat is my Shadow Minister Assisting for Climate Change, and he was integrally involved in helping me design the policy package we announced last week. He brings the valuable perspective of being a regional MP and one representing a community that is central to Australia’s energy transformation.
His dual role as Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific means he has developed a first-class understanding of the challenges and opportunities of climate change in our region. He’s a valued colleague and friend.
Regrets. We’ve had a few.
For many years, particularly under John Howard, Australia’s approach to climate policy was governed by the principle of “no regrets”. This was the concept that any potential action on climate must be subject to the over-riding caveat that there must be no negative economic impact on Australia.
The irony is, however, that this approach has left Australia plenty to regret.
Australia, which has so often prided itself on punching above our weight on the big issues, has been weighed down by dysfunctional politics of division on climate, resulting in a pathetic lack of ambition and embarrassing lack of action.
While we were told that we would regret the economic cost of action, we’ve ended up regretting that Australia has missed out on so much economic opportunity.
More petajoules of sun hit our landmass each year than any other country.
Our wind resource is some of the best in the world too.
We are an energy-exporting country, meaning we have the skills and expertise to lead the transformation to renewable energy.
Australia, which for so long has searched for areas of comparative advantage, has for the best part of two decades taken a pass on a comparative advantage staring us in the face.
We could have been well on the way by now to becoming a renewable energy superpower.
Of course, we still can be, but we have left our run very late and we have not a day to waste to catch up.
Far too many deniers and delayers have run toxic but effective fear campaigns warning of the economic costs of climate action.
Too many are still doing it today.
In a crowded field, the tactics of Scott Morrison at the last election win the prize for being the low point of sophistry and toxicity.
Australians were told that action on climate would come at a cost to the economy of billions of dollars.
Instead of being treated to a contest of ideas about how to best seize the economic opportunities of climate action, the Australian people were subjected to weeks of disinformation about how action would cost their jobs, their community and even their weekend.
Now, having sniffed the winds of political change, with too many of their own MPs under threat from voters fed up with the lies about climate change, Scott Morrison and the LNP want us to believe that they are the party to be trusted with the renewable energy transformation.
The guy who warned that electric cars would end the weekend - who claimed that big batteries are as effective as the big prawn – and who derided renewable energy targets as “nuts”.
The guys, including Josh Frydenberg as Energy Minister, who attempted to derail and destroy South Australia’s world-leading transformation to renewable energy.
These guys reckon they are the team to be trusted with this fundamental economic reform process today.
And arguably, even greater than the economic cost of the LNP’s inaction has been the cost to our body politic of their toxic and constant identity politics of division.
They’ve spent years dividing Australians and pitting cities against regions on the issue of climate change.
It is meant to be the job of the national government, of the Prime Minister in particular, to unite Australians around important national goals and projects.
But when Scott Morrison sneers at the climate concerns of people who frequent city wine bars, when he talks derisively of the “goats cheese circle” and when Barnaby Joyce dares to speculate that people who lost their homes in bush fires would predominantly be Greens voters – they betray that important unifying role.
This pandering to the identity politics of division makes my blood boil.
And now all of a sudden, worried about their urban seats, these characters announce a road to Damascus conversion, declaring that having divided Australians for so long, they are just the right people to unite us around the task of tackling our most urgent challenge: dealing with climate change.
Ending this destructive politics of division on climate is going to be a key task for an Albanese Government.
Just as it fell to Bob Hawke and Labor to bring national reconciliation after the divisions of the tumultuous decade to 1983, so it will fall to us to bring Australians together in dealing with what is the world’s biggest challenge and Australia’s biggest economic opportunity.
And let’s be frank. Our party has paid a big price in these climate wars. We carry our share of scars.
There are some keen observers who predicted that Labor would simply match the Coalition’s approach to climate to minimise the risk of yet another destructive scare campaign from a government that has no record and no agenda to campaign on.
As if signing up to their weak and pathetic targets and effectively endorsing the politics of division might be an effective tactic to convince people to vote Labor.
As far as I’m concerned, this was never going to happen.
Because while we must learn the lessons of battles lost, we must also ensure they are the right lessons.
The answer is not to eradicate our ambition, but to craft our policies to ensure that we can win the argument that climate action is an essential element to, not a brake on, economic growth and job creation.
Our policy release last week – Powering Australia – was accompanied by the most substantial economic modelling ever released by any Australian Opposition about any policy.
We’ve spent this year thinking deeply about how to design our climate policies with maximum positive economic impact for Australia, and the modelling helps us assess and explain just what that impact will be.
Several months ago, I outlined four principles that would underpin Labor’s climate policies.
Each of these principles is put into effect in the suite of policies that Anthony and I announced on Friday.
First, that net zero by 2050 is absolutely necessary, but not sufficient on its own.
That the drive to net zero must be accompanied by strong medium-term targets.
Second, that those targets must be accompanied by substantial and well-designed policy levers.
Aspiration is essential, but it is not enough.
Third, that good climate policy is good jobs policy, and this must be reflected in policy design.
And finally, that the regions which have powered Australia for so long must be front and centre not only of our thoughts, but of Australia’s approach to tackling climate change.
Those four principles and the policies we have developed to give them life mean that we can offer the Australian people more jobs, lower power bills, and less emissions.
Our target of 43% emissions reductions over the years to 2030 is ambitious and achievable.
It isn’t an aspiration. It is the emissions reduction outcome of the policies we have designed and announced to take the Australian economy forward as the world changes around us.
It’s a target with teeth.
Inevitably, the conservatives have derided it as ‘not safe’ for the economy, and the Greens argue it sends the world off a cliff.
It wouldn’t take a fortune teller to predict those responses, but I was particularly impressed with the fortune-telling ability of both parties on this occasion.
Both held their press conferences on our policy before it was even announced.
Morrison’s was hours before. Neither had seen the extensive policy work, or the great outcomes for the Australian economy in the modelling – and indeed the regions, before making these unfounded pronouncements.
Their first instinct was to divide, as it’s in the political interests of them both to keep the climate wars going. It’s not in Australia’s.
The Australian people – fatigued from the past decade, and the past two years in particular, deserve better than this.
They deserve a Government with concrete plans and an intention to unite Australians, not divide them, on this most important national journey.
We’re seeking a mandate for our approach to climate change because that’s an important first step to building national unity around the national agenda.
Important too is explaining the principles of our approach that I referred to earlier and how our policies advance those principles.
Firstly, net zero by 2050 is necessary, but not sufficient on its own – we need the strong pathway to get there, and that’s what Powering Australia delivers by reducing emissions by 43% by 2030.
We can’t leave the net zero task to a set of assumptions or hope about “technology” emerging in the 2040s.
Partly because aggregate emissions over the next decade will determine whether the world stays below 1.5 or 2 degrees of warming.
And partly because of the benefits to the Australian economy of greater ambition in the 2020s – and the risk of missing that opportunity.
In many ways, the economy most analogous to Australia’s is Canada’s because of our mutual reliance on resources.
I don’t think its an accident that our 2030 targets are so similar.
While no two countries’ policy mix will be identical, Powering Australia’s target does return Australia to the sensible approach of similar economies.
The second principle was that the target must be accompanied by policies.
Scott Morrison says a target without policies is meaningless.
I agree with him on that point.
But where he uses the ‘target without policies’ slogan as an alibi for weak targets, I use it as an imperative to have both.
Of course, we had already announced substantial policies well before Friday.
Our electric vehicle tax cut.
Our community battery policy.
Our 10,000 New Energy apprentices.
And probably most importantly, the Rewiring the Nation Fund for the urgent upgrade of the grid to unlock renewable energy across the country, and improve reliability and resilience.
But we always said this wouldn’t be enough.
And so last Friday we announced more.
That an Albanese Labor Government will deliver solar banks to help lower-income people and renters get access to the benefits of renewable energy.
That a Labor Government will ensure the non-defence elements of the Commonwealth Government are net zero by 2030.
That a Labor Government will introduce real-world vehicle testing, to ensure Australian motorists have more accurate information about fuel use and emissions when they buy cars.
But inevitably, much of the focus has been on our announcement to improve the Safeguard Mechanism.
Equally inevitably, the Government has embarked on their usual scare campaign.
Scott Morrison was in Cabinet when the Safeguard was designed.
He was Treasurer when it was introduced.
Of course, all we are doing is taking the Government’s Mechanism and properly applying the baseline to make it consistent with Australia achieving net zero by 2050.
A commitment that the Government is supposedly now on board with.
Nine out of the ten biggest-emitting facilities, and more than two-thirds of all facilities covered, are committed to net zero emissions by 2050.
Many of them also have ambitious interim targets.
Our announcement provides a supportive policy framework for those efforts – including by giving industry the certainty that it has been so desperately lacking under the Coalition.
That’s why our policy was recommended by the Business Council of Australia.
They recommended this approach months ago to ensure Australian industry can remain competitive in a decarbonising global economy.
Indeed, we haven’t gone as far as the BCA, because on balance we don’t think the coverage of the scheme should be expanded to additional facilities.
I welcome the supportive response we’ve seen from Australian industry in recent days.
From the Business Council – that Labor’s 2030 target is both ‘sensible and workable’, and that ‘in particular [they] welcome the use of the existing Safeguard Mechanism.’
From the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry – that Labor’s plan is ‘a chance to end climate uncertainty’ and that ‘reforms to reduce the baseline of the Safeguard Mechanism are a sensible approach’.
And from the Australian Industry Group that ‘building on the existing Safeguard Mechanism is an obvious place for any Government to start’ and that making reductions ‘firm and predictable can help underpin transformative industry investments’.
I would like to think it’s hard to argue with that.
But Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor are arguing they know more about the impact of Labor’s policies on Australian companies than those companies themselves.
This is a policy business itself has asked for to keep Australian industry competitive and help to drive innovation in a decarbonising global economy.
So, if Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor want a debate about the economic impact of our Safeguards policy, be my guest.
Which brings me to the broader jobs impact of our policy.
The third principle I outlined was that good climate policy is good jobs policy, and must be designed as such.
You might have heard me say before: the world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity.
And the modelling confirms it.
$52 billion of private investment unlocked because of our policies.
64,000 direct jobs, and over 600,000 total jobs created by 2030.
Power bills cut for households and businesses across the National Electricity Market.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Because our independent modelling is very consistent with so much analysis by others.
Modelling by Professor Warwick McKibbin found a $35 billion jump in GDP by 2030 with a 44% target.
Modelling by BCA and Deloitte shows a 54% target delivering 195, 000 direct jobs over coming decades.
And of course the Reputex modelling for Powering Australia also showed that five out of the six jobs created by our policies
will be in the regions.
Again, this shouldn’t be a surprise.
The regions which have powered Australia for so long will be the regions that will power us into the future.
The Hunter Valley, the La Trobe Valley, Central Queensland, the Pilbara, Collie-Bunbury.
And as we electrify everything that can be electrified, as we make that electricity renewable, as we build the massive storage required through batteries, pumped hydro and hydrogen, there will be thousands and thousands of jobs created in those regions.
And we have the capability to begin manufacturing some of these technologies here – with a boost from Labor’s National Reconstruction Fund and our Buy Australian Plan.
Skills – economic complexity
Up to this point we’ve largely missed out on seizing opportunities for manufacturing in new energy industries.
Less than 1% of the 60 million solar panels across Australian roofs are made in Australia – despite much of the research and technological development coming out of Martin Green’s team at UNSW.
Australia is full of smart and hard-working people, it always has been. But we’ve had a Government that has turned its back on investing in Australia’s future.
While we are a wealthy country, Australia’s economic complexity, its productive knowledge, ranks 86th globally.
Just behind Paraguay and Oman, with the U.S and the UK at 11th and 12th respectively.
Economic complexity is a key hallmark of innovative nations with resilient economies.
In an unstable world, increasing innovation and complexity is a downpayment on weathering future storms.
Australia’s regions are ripe to seize the opportunity to develop clean energy manufacturing industries and export technologies like batteries, and renewable technologies to a world hungry with demand.
We have 9 of the 10 critical materials for batteries underneath our toes but we largely send them offshore for processing and manufacturing and buy them back at a premium.
Key to seizing those opportunities is the skills agenda Anthony announced yesterday.
To become a renewable energy superpower, we’ll need not only more workers, but more workers trained in the jobs of the future.
Yet under the Coalition, there are 85,000 fewer apprenticeships and traineeships than there were in 2013.
One in four Australian businesses are experiencing skills shortages – yet there are 2 million Australians unemployed or underemployed.
That’s why an Albanese Labor Government will implement our $1.2 billion Future Made in Australia Skills Plan.
465,000 Free TAFE places, including 45,000 new TAFE places.
20,000 new university places.
And crucially, support for 10,000 New Energy Apprentices to train in the jobs of the future.
Frankly, we need a Government that not only understands the future, but wants to seize it in Australia’s interests.
Not fearmongers about it for short term political gain.
Now the Australian public, and many people in this room, are fatigued by the toxic politics we’ve had in this country on climate change policy for over a decade.
At the state and territory level, and in business and industry, we’ve moved past the bruising fights on energy.
Now there’s an almost unanimous desire to just create some policy certainty on the trajectory to net zero and get on with job of protecting Australia’s future.
That’s a pretty remarkable thing, and a very welcome change from just a few years ago.
It’s a great opportunity for a leader to bring the country together, be ambitious and seize the economic opportunity on our doorstep.
Instead, the Prime Minister says 43 per cent isn’t the right policy for Australia, it doesn’t get the balance right and it’s not safe for the economy. He says this hours before he’s even seen the policy.
The Prime Minister once said in the Parliament that net zero by 2050 would require 43% emissions reductions by 2030.
Now he says he’s committed to net zero, but that 43% is unsafe.
Which is it?
And if Labor’s 43% is unsafe, what does the Prime Minister think of the New South Wales Government’s 50% by 2030 target?
South Australia’s 50% target?
Tasmania’s 100% target?
Are they unsafe?
When the Prime Minister talks about driving out jobs in Bell Bay, and the Hunter, is that directed at Peter Gutwein and Dom Perrotet?
The reason Scott Morrison’s attack makes no sense is because he only ever cares about what suits the politics of the moment, what makes the best attack grab in that interview.
He doesn’t care if its inconsistent with what he’s said in the past.
He only ever thinks of his short term political interest, not the country’s long term interest.
Despite the evidence not just of the boost to the economy of Powering Australia – but of the huge shift in capital that we risk missing out on with more division, we’ll see the scare campaign against Powering Australia only get more ridiculous.
Instead of creating consensus, the Prime Minister wants one more run of climate misinformation and scaremongering in the regions to lead him back to the Lodge.
But he has a difficult task ahead.
Despite having no policy to achieve it - he also needs to pretend his climate conversion to net zero by 2050 is real for his urban seats under pressure.
People are fed up with their representatives like Dave Sharma, Josh Frydenberg, Katie Allen and Jason Falinski taking their voting orders on Australia’s climate policy from Barnaby Joyce.
The credibility cloud over his climate conversion is compounded by his mixed messages to the international community and the Australian people.
In Glasgow, the Prime Minister signed up to the request that countries that haven’t updated their 2030 targets should do so next year.
But just hours later, the Government said its 2030 target was “fixed”.
So we must deduce from the 26-28% target that remains, that he is either hiding from the Australian public what his medium-term target is before the election, or that his net zero promise is empty.
That joins an ever-growing pile of empty promises to Australians under his leadership.
It is past time for Australia to turn the page on the toxic climate politics of the last decade, and Powering Australia is designed to do just that.
While I’ve listed off some of the bigger set pieces here today – equally important is the intent to normalise the development and implementation of climate policy in this country.
By restoring integrity to decision making – ensuring Treasury models risks and opportunities across the economy of both the changing climate and the decarbonising economy.
Acknowledging climate policy is now a critical part of diplomacy, and acknowledging the security threats a changing climate poses, particularly for our region.
Restoring the Climate Change Authority, ensuring the Government of the day has the independent advice it should in decision-making, while retaining those decision-making powers with the Government of the day.
And the Climate Change Minister providing an annual report to the Parliament looking at progress on targets and not consigning climate policy to only be developed in fever pitch just before an international conference, or an election.
It’s a genuine effort to move towards bipartisanship on climate policy.
But frankly that work can only start with the election of an Albanese Labor Government with Powering Australia as one of its key reforms.
Not a paralysed Morrison Government with the same rump of climate deniers still calling the shots.
And so, there is now a real contrast of approaches between the Government and the alternative Government when it comes to the most important challenge and opportunity facing the nation: climate change.
They issued a pamphlet.
We have issued a comprehensive plan.
Their target brings international condemnation.
Labor’s will put us back in the range of our allies and close trading partners.
The Morrison Government was embarrassed at COP.
We will bid to host a COP.
They won’t introduce legislation because they would be embarrassed on the floor of the house by their climate deniers.
I’ll introduce a Climate Change Bill as Minister for Climate Change and will report annually to Parliament on progress, because we want to be held accountable.
What we are presenting to the Australian people is not an echo, but an alternative.
What we are presenting to the Australian people is not just an election policy, but what we want to be one of the signature reforms of an Albanese Labor Government.
Nothing is more important to giving Australia a better future than tackling climate change and seizing the economic opportunity it provides.
Accordingly, as an Albanese Labor Government goes about the task of navigating a better future for Australia, climate change policy will be at the centre of our agenda.
I can’t wait to get started.
In paying our respects to the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples today, let us also acknowledge some truths.