Crossbench launches campaign for climate action framework

23 Jul 2020

Posted February 10, 2020

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie joined crossbench MPs and leaders in science, health and agriculture this morning to support the public release of climate action legislation being introduced by Zali Steggall MP.

Photograph: Attending today's press conference were Andrew Wilkie MP, Federal Member for Clark, left; Dr Kate Charlesworth representing the Climate and Health Alliance; Professor Penny Sackett, Current Chair of the ACT Climate Change Council and Former Chief Scientist for Australia (2008-2011); Charlie Prell, Deputy Chair for Farmers for Climate Action; Rebekha Sharkie MP, Federal Member for Mayo; Zali Steggall MP, Federal Member for Warringah; and Helen Haines MP, Federal Member for Indi.

Rebekha is seconding the Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020 which is scheduled to be introduced by the Independent Member for Warringah as a Private Member’s Bill in March.

The legislation is modelled on the UK’s Climate Change Act (2008) and is designed to provide a comprehensive framework to respond to climate change.

The final draft of the bill was released today and coincides with an online petition urging Australians to lobby their MP and call for a conscience vote on the legislation.

“It is a privilege to lend my support as a seconder to this bill. We need a new approach to break the climate policy deadlock in Australia,” Rebekha said.

“Constant uncertainty regarding Federal policy makes bipartisan consensus on climate change more important than ever.

“I see my role on the crossbench as encouraging this consensus, and helping support action on climate change.

“Zali has consulted widely with the scientific and business community to draft this private member’s bill to ensure proper plans are in place to protect the environment and the economy; plan the transition to net-zero, and prosper against the threats of Climate Change.

“The UK’s framework to tackle climate change all began with a private member’s bill.

“It is my hope that this legislation will break through the partisan politics and that the Australian community will get behind the campaign and put pressure on their Federal members to call for a conscience vote.”

Key features of the legislation include:

  • A comprehensive framework for co-ordinating adaptation of all sectors to warming climates. The framework sets statutory targets, assigns clear duties and responsibilities and provides clarity about the long-term direction.
  • Climate Change Risk Assessment for all sectors such as health, agriculture, energy and transport.
  • A National Adaptation Program to ensure Australia has a plan to meet increasing challenges.
  • The establishment of a Climate Change Commission, to provide expert advice on climate policy and long-term objectives and assesses the effectiveness of Government policy proposals for adaptation and mitigation.
  • The bill is supported by Professor Ross Garnaut, a renowned Australian economist who released the 2008 Garnaut Climate Change Review which examined the scientific evidence around the impacts of climate change on Australia and its economy.
  • He predicted that without adequate action, the nation would face a more frequent and intense fire season by 2020.


Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Mitigation) Bill 2020.

For a long period, there was serious dispute amongst Australians about whether temperatures in the world as a whole and in Australia would rise due to human activity causing increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

These were the real Climate Wars. Direct outcomes of the wars include political and policy instability, slow progress in reducing emissions and a negative influence on the global mitigation effort.

The casualty tally includes high electricity prices, inadequate investment in electricity generation and firming and in energy-intensive industries, and the waste of economic opportunity in rural and provincial Australia.

We now have reasons to hope that the real Climate Wars are over. There has been increasing and there is now widely shared understanding that temperatures are rising as a result of human activity and will continue to do so until we have achieved zero net emissions of greenhouse gases. Skirmishes continue - maybe forever - about the detail of how we respond to the shared understanding.

How the skirmishes are managed will determine whether Australia helps or hinders the global effort to contain the damage from climate change. It will also determine whether Australian employment and incomes—especially in rural and provincial Australia--are enhanced or diminished by the way in which we seek to play our role in the global effort.

Zali Steggall’s Climate Change Bill provides an opportunity for the Australian Federal Parliament to move decisively beyond the Climate Wars. Being introduced by a Member of Parliament from outside the partisan divide, it can pass without any of the Parties of government backing down from explicit electoral commitments.

I said in my report to the Multi-Party Parliamentary Committee on Climate Change in 2011:

“There will be no success in mitigation, at a national or international level, without good governance. The policies that will mitigate climate change cut across strong interests of many kinds. These are circumstances in which it is easy, indeed natural, for vested interests to capture policy and for the ultimate reasons for policy to be forgotten. Good governance is an antidote to these tendencies: the articulation of clear and soundly based principles as a foundation for policy, and the establishment of strong, effective institutions to implement the principles” (Garnaut 2011, pp 74-5).

In 2011, I commended the UK Climate Committee, then recently formed, as a model for good governance. Since then, this model has worked well in the UK. Zali Steggall’s proposal is guided by the UK model, and could provide much of the steadiness and good governance that is now required for Australian policy.

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