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The Hon Peter Garrett MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

You can't Google your way out of Climate Change

Opinion piece
The Punch (
4 January 2010

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Google 'Google' and you break the Internet - or so the urban myth goes. Google 'emissions trading' and 'Liberal Party' and you almost have the same effect.

News articles, blogs, superseded media releases and the random night thoughts of IT addicted insomniacs await to take you on a virtual walk down memory lane - like one of those 'best and worst of 2009' montages we endured before New Years Eve.

But just as relying on fake emails to mount a political case has its pitfalls, Googling facts and peddling them as truth opens up more cracks in credibility than a last-day pitch at the SCG.

Tony Abbott's extraordinary revelation last week that the only basis for his false claims about the cost of the Government CPRS on Australian households was 'reports' plucked from a Google news search left the Liberal Party's new leader without a fig leaf of credibility.

Worse, it demonstrated just how far Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party are prepared to go to mount a climate change fear campaign.

But the inconvenient truth, to borrow a phrase, for Mr Abbott and the Liberal Party is that Australia's national interest and that of the rest of the world demands action on dangerous climate change.

And the most effective way of doing that is through a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

It is why over thirty nations, including all of Europe, Japan, the United States of America, and New Zealand have either introduced or are introducing a CPRS of their own.

It is why a CPRS is the central plank of the Rudd Government's plan to tackle climate change and why it was the approach supported by John Howard, Peter Costello, Greg Hunt and Malcolm Turnbull.

Because to quote the latter, suggesting there is any cost-free way to dramatically cut emissions is "bullshit."

That is why Tony Abbott has chosen to rely on false claims about the costs of a CPRS to justify the 'anything but a carbon price' position he and the resurgent dinosaurs of the Liberal Party have forced the conservative side of politics into.

And so, as a new year dawns we have a case of déjà vu all over again. The Opposition's climate 'in'action spokesman, Greg Hunt, is frantically trying to design a new policy, foiled almost daily by his own colleagues and leader who keep shifting the goal posts.

Next month, the Government will again introduce a CPRS into the Parliament. The Liberal Party are very familiar with its contents because they were intimately involved in negotiating it.

They knew then as they know now that its design was informed by the largest modelling exercise undertaken by the Treasury in the nation's history.

They knew then as they know now that 90 per cent of Australian households will receive assistance to manage the scheme's impacts. In fact, just last week the Government confirmed that overall, low-income households will be financially better of as a result of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

The CPRS makes such obvious economic, social and environmental sense - it puts a cap on emissions, and makes polluters rather than taxpayers pay for the pollution.

In addition to the CPRS assistance, households that take action to live sustainably stand to win, because the greener your home, the lower your energy costs.

That is why since coming to Government we have embarked on an unprecedented federal government investment in energy efficiency and clean energy.

It is because energy efficiency is the critical second plank of action on climate change. Our investment will see around 1.9 million households insulated under the Home Insulation Program, reducing heating and cooling costs by up to 40 per cent.

Up to 360,000 households will get a free home sustainability assessment under the Green Loans Program and up to 75,000 of them will have access to four-year zero-interest loans to reduce their environmental impact.

We're on track to help over 120,000 homes install solar panels - eight times our election commitment. And around 100,000 homes have installed solar hot water since we boosted the rebate in February. That compares with just 4,000 solar hot water rebates provided over the life of the previous Government.

We are designing a CPRS that is in Australia's national interest, investing significantly in energy efficiency and clean energy and ensuring we play our part in helping arrest the most dangerous impacts of global warming.

In the meantime, the Liberal Party are trying to concoct a window display without putting a price on carbon pollution. This is despite the essential fact that complementary measures without a carbon price don't actually 'complement' anything. You end up with the policy equivalent of dessert without a main course – a sugar-hit without any substance – served up as a half-baked magic pudding.

And Tony, you won’t find a recipe for one of those on Google.


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