Independent MP’s climate bills deserve conscience vote

A government-dominated parliamentary committee’s rejection of independent MP Zali Steggall’s climate action legislation shows the Morrison government is out of touch with the views of the Australian community, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.

The committee recommended that the bills – which would put Australia on a path to net zero emissions and risk-based adaptation with interim targets, an independent Climate Change Commission and a process for updating plans – not be passed.

“This committee received more than 6,500 submissions and 99% of them were supportive of the bills,” said ACF’s climate change campaigner Suzanne Harter.

“Among the 99% of supportive submissions were contributions from peak business and industry groups the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group, yet the committee has rejected the bill and its key elements.

“The committee members who supported this recommendation find themselves at odds with business, industry and community concerns.

“Many individual government MPs say they want climate action – not only metropolitan members like Jason Falinski and Katie Allen, but also regional representatives like Darren Chester, Anne Webster and Warren Entsch, who are well aware of what an increasingly hotter climate means for farmers.

“Victorian regional MP Russell Broadbent has told his electorate billions of dollars in food exports would suffer if Europe, the UK or the US imposed carbon tariffs on Australia.

“These bills should be given a conscience vote in the parliament.

“Australia has unrivalled sun and wind resources, but we are particularly vulnerable to climate change. We must have a national plan that secures and creates great jobs and keeps people and wildlife safe from dangerous, climate-fuelled bushfires, droughts and storms.

“More delay equals more danger as our ability to limit climate damage moves out of reach.

“ACF calls on every MP and Senator who cares about the future of their community to support these bills in the parliament.”

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