A Liberal party dominated parliamentary committee has recommended that Independent MP Zali Steggall’s climate change bills, which would commit Australia by law to a target of net zero emissions by 2050, should not be passed by the parliament.
In a report handed down on Wednesday, the Energy and Environment Committee rejected the bills which are supported by key industry groups including the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Medical Association.
Steggall said she is “disappointed but not surprised” that the parliamentary committee rejected her bills that would put Australia on a path towards addressing climate change.
“Today we have the Chief Executive of AEMO [Australian Energy Market Operator] calling for an ambitious target for our country to establish an electrical grid ready to handle moments of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025. And at the same time, the Morrison/Joyce Government is rejecting a plan that could help get us there,” Steggall said.
“Never has a Liberal government been so out of step with the Australian business and investment community on a key issue as the current government led by Scott Morrison.
“In a time where industry and investors have been battered by COVID-19 they do not need more challenges. They need the Morrison Government to smooth the transition on climate for them. The inquiry has shown the accepted model to do this is proposed in the Climate Change Bills.”
Remarks from Liberal committee members Trent Zimmerman and Bridget Archer highlight the conflict over climate change within the Coalition government, that has so far refused to commit to a target of net zero emissions by 2050.
The two MPs wrote that they rejected Steggall’s bills, but also called on the government to set out a national commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 at the United Nations Glasgow summit this year.
Currently, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not made this commitment, only stating that Australia’s plan is to “preferably” reach net zero by 2050.
Steggall said the committee’s report is a “wake up call” for electorates represented by Liberal MPs who “say they support climate action but don’t deliver anything”.
“MPs like Trent Zimmerman should be embarrassed by their own government’s failure to act on climate change,” she said.
“They are looking for excuses not to support the approach proposed in the Bills and the recommendations; suggesting Australia should not be advised by independent experts when Australia has for the last 16 months followed expert advice at every turn in its response to Covid.”
On Wednesday, President of the Australian Medical Association Dr Omar Khorshid said the organisation was “extremely disappointed” by the committee’s decision.
“The AMA is deeply concerned that without a plan, Australia will be left behind. A number of global scorecards have now put Australia at the bottom of their lists regarding climate action and responsibility,” Dr Khorshid said.
“The committee’s report has ignored the wide community support for stronger action on climate change and does not reflect the urgent health and environmental imperatives.”