There is scientific consensus that our climate is changing. The time for waiting is over. The next parliament will carry critical responsibility for action on climate policy. That is why my Climate Policy Pillar is so important.

 

What does my Climate Policy Pillar include?

A growing global movement is calling for urgent, meaningful climate action, realising that not only is this imperative for humanity, but that the renewables revolution promises enormous economic opportunities.

Indeed, Australia regularly bears the brunt of climate-induced catastrophic events. Extreme fire and flood events are happening with ever greater frequency. As a journalist, I have been on the ground during and after these ever more frequent and severe fires, floods and superstorms. I have seen the impact of these disasters on communities. I know that we can no longer wait.

The major parties, beholden to fossil fuel interests, refuse to treat the climate crisis with the seriousness, and urgency, it deserves. Receiving substantial donations from fossil fuel companies, and connected with industry lobbyists, the major parties are incentivised not to act.

The Liberal-National Government, particularly the Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, has been at the forefront of denying the science and preventing meaningful reform. Meanwhile, our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, saw fit to bring a lump of coal to Parliament in a bizarre stunt, and exhorted Australians not to be fearful of it.

Climate policy has been weaponised for political reasons to the detriment of our nation.

Australia is being shamed internationally for being a “holdout” on climate policy.

This denial and inaction not only exacerbates Australia’s climate risk, but denies Australians the opportunity to benefit from the prosperity the renewables revolution promises. Even worse, these policy settings put Australia at risk of economic retribution from countries which seek to apply penalties to those still engaging in practices that damage the climate.

While the Liberal-National Coalition signed the 2015 Paris Agreement, theoretically agreeing to targets for climate reduction, there is a notable absence of detail regarding how exactly the Government intends to achieve the promise of achieving net zero emissions by 2050

The Morrison Government instead counts on technology – some of which is yet to be invented – to address the problem. Indeed, the Morrison-Joyce plan has been called by climate technology experts, a ‘colossal piece of obfuscation.‘ And it is a risky strategy of ‘picking winners’ that history shows often produces the wrong outcomes.

In the meantime, the Coalition is encouraging coal fired power plants to operate longer than even their owners intend while pushing for a post-pandemic gas-fired recovery that has never eventuated and is environmentally irresponsible.

Climate change and its extensive, severe and increasingly immediate impacts on Australia cannot continue to be neglected by those leading this country. If we are to preserve a liveable environment for future generations and also prevent and manage the disasters we are experiencing around us, urgent and meaningful action to reduce emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change and build a green and prosperous future is paramount.

This is why if elected I will seek the following:

Hold the Government to account on our Paris Climate Agreement commitments

  • The Government must not abandon its responsibility to create policies and frameworks that accelerate Australia’s decarbonisation.
  • I support a 60% reduction of carbon emissions by 2030 (based on 2005 levels) in line with previous recommendations from the Climate Change Authority. I also support a commitment to 80% renewable energy by 2030, a target that has been modelled as feasible by several organisations.
  • Appoint an independent climate body with teeth, to shape, monitor and assess climate policy and its effectiveness, and to hold governments of all persuasions accountable.
  • Legislate a binding emission reduction target that is not tied to elections.

Cease subsidising fossil fuels

  • Government spent $10.3 billion subsidising fossil fuels in 2020-21. We should not be subsidising or artificially propping up stranded and failing industries.
  • Large corporations and investors are already redirecting funds away from fossil fuels to renewable energy and industries. Policy certainty will encourage this and grow our economy.
  • Subsidies should be repurposed as support for clean, renewable industries and technologies. Large scale government investment in upgrading the energy grid is imperative and will form the foundation of our future economy.
  • No new coal or gas developments. Transition to the closure of coal fired power plants and deliver structured transformation to affected communities ensuring their economic security and future prosperity.

Continue and strengthen solar rebates and subsidies

  • Private households have shouldered the bulk of the transition to renewable energy. Families invested in solar panels to ease the burden of utility bills and in the process helped reduce the cost of electricity while reducing emissions.
  • No other industrialised nation is better suited for solar homes and as a Member of Parliament I will support the continuation of programs like the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme that subsidises new solar installations.
  • Community energy and battery storage projects are worthy of detailed investigation to give communities agency and opportunity

Fix the grid to support more solar energy

  • For decades network operators produced easy profits running poles and wires from a small number of centralised, mainly fossil fuel generation plants. Today, more than 2 million Australian homes supply their surplus solar electricity into the grid which can create technical challenges for grid operation. Infrastructure and technology upgrades are needed to make better use of Australia’s abundant free solar energy.
  • Rather than upgrading the grid, some network operators would rather limit the amount of solar feeding into it during highly productive periods (“curtailment”). This would have a negative financial impact on households, many of whom relied on feed-in earnings when they decided to invest in a cleaner future.
  • As a Member of Parliament, I will not stand by watching the Government allow networks to put the brakes on the solar revolution. Network operators must be held accountable for providing an optimally functioning electricity grid.
  • Meanwhile, the federal government must fund R&D which addresses technology upgrades so that solar and other renewable energy can smoothly electrify the national grid, and bring about a move away from gas and coal-fired electricity generation.
  • Build a skilled renewable energy workforce. We have under-invested in building the skills needed to enhance this transformation and in re-skilling workers from sectors of the economy and in regions where the new technologies will be deployed. This can and must be corrected as a priority.

Make solar batteries affordable and part of the national grid

  • Today, solar homes without batteries produce an abundance of cheap energy during daytime for supply to the electricity grid, but none at night-time. One way to even-out the supply and ensure minimum electricity in the grid (“base load”) can still be majority-sourced from renewables, is to install batteries, but these are currently expensive for home-owners.
  • As a Member of Parliament, I will push to retain and expand solar battery rebates and subsidies for householders nationally. As well, I will work hard to introduce and support funding models for community-scale batteries, and network-operated renewable energy storage schemes.
  • By solving accessible pricing for solar batteries, the ongoing efficient-use of solar energy, and investment in rooftop solar panels will be protected for all.
  • Accelerated take-up of electric vehicles will also alleviate the issue of the high-cost of solar batteries, because the family car can become a dual-purpose rechargeable home battery on wheels.

Accelerate the transition to electric vehicles

  • Light vehicles account for around 10% of carbon emissions in Australia.
  • Transitioning to electric mobility not only leads to lower carbon emissions but also reduces pollutants and traffic noise in our suburbs.
  • The Government went to the last election pushing hard against electric vehicles.
  • Consequently, Australia now has one of the lowest rates of adoption of electric vehicles among OECD nations.
  • The Government missed the opportunity to resurrect our once proud automotive industry by shifting to electric vehicles. They have also resisted offering financial support for EVs.
  • This means car manufacturers supply only a handful of models and at high prices, compounded by luxury car taxes, creating a vicious circle of low demand and low supply.
  • The take up of EVs must be sped up via government incentives, potentially including discounted registration and stamp duty, and innovative approaches, including free parking and commuter lane access.
  • Accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, including a national charger network, electrifying government fleets and reforming Fringe Benefits and Luxury car tax
  • Implement programmes supporting entrepreneurs who are creating jobs around electric vehicles, batteries and charging
  • Adopt fuel efficiency standards to encourage an increase in the supply of low and zero emission vehicles and to prevent Australia from being a dumping ground for high-emission vehicles.

Protect our environment by reducing carbon emissions

  • Create a coordinated system of incentives for householders to make their homes more energy efficient
  • Actively drive carbon sequestration via genuine, monitored tree planting, mangrove and kelp replacement and support agriculture to reduce methane emissions via innovative farming practices
  • Review existing carbon offset programs to ensure genuine offsetting is taking place
  • Develop a coordinated emergency response system for rapid action to support communities before, during and after climate related disasters
  • Actively develop strategies to manage and mitigate climate impact in high risk communities, including coastal and bushfire prone areas
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