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A message from Zali Steggall - Member for Warringah

It is time for a plan. The UK passed the Climate Change bill in 2008, then amended last year to lock in Net 0 by 2050. It all started from a private member’s bill. 

I will be presenting the Climate Change bill in parliament. I believe that people can make change happen. I look at Warringah and how energised everyone is to be speaking up, to be independent, to have a voice beyond party lines. 

The key features to the legislation will be to provide Climate Change Risk Assessment for all sectors such as health, agriculture, energy and transport and a National Adaptation Programme, to ensure Australia has a plan to meet increasing challenges, clearly vitally important when we consider our current unprecedented fires and drought.

A comprehensive framework law is an essential tool for coordinating adaptation of all sectors to warming climates and increase resilience. The Climate Change bill sets statutory targets, assigns clear duties and responsibilities and provides clarity about the long-term direction of travel. Economy-wide, multi-year targets, set well in advance, help to define a clear yet flexible path towards the long-term climate objective. 

It establishes a Committee on Climate Change, to provide expert advise on climate policy and long-term objectives, and assesses the effectiveness of Government policy proposals for adaptation and mitigation. A strong independent body is critically important to ensure consistent policy delivery and evidence based decision-making.

All of this is desperately needed in Australia. We need a plan. To make this happen, everyone needs to demand of their local MP to step out from behind party lines. It is not ok to say you believe in Climate Change action if you are going to follow up with “and the Morrison Government is doing enough”. It isn’t. And people know it. 

The UK did this in 2008. 2020 needs to be the year Australia does it. #ClimateActNow

Article by Andrew Clark AFR Jan 4th 2020

A political wedge 

Meanwhile, Zali Steggall, the former world downhill ski champion who defeated Abbott in his former Liberal electoral fortress of Warringah on Sydney’s North Shore in last May’s federal election as an independent campaigning on climate change, plans to introduce a climate change bill into Parliament and demand a conscience vote. 

Ms Steggall’s credentials as a climate change advocate are not in question, but the party-political potential in her proposed bill is also obvious. It could place more moderate Liberal MP’s like Trent Zimmerman and Jason Falinski in NSW, and Tim Wilson in Victoria, in a dilemma. 

She says the bill would “set the long term goal and the framework” for an Australian climate change plan, covering “adaptation and mitigation,” as well as transport and water. It is modelled on legislation enacted in June by the UK Tory government requiring net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and may include provisions for a climate change commissioner, which would be an independent position with powers to assess progress in the area. 

However, she says “it’s not something that is a political wedge. I’m not Labor. The way forward over this partisan warfare is you can argue, but let’s at least agree on where we need to get to and get on with the job,” Steggall says. 

“I think Scott Morrison has really missed an opportunity," she says. "I find incredible similarities with Tony Abbott in terms of the rhetoric and defensiveness. It’s the tone-deafness of not wanting to address the reality of the situation. It’s so tone deaf it’s crazy.” 

The government’s tactics for dealing with Steggall’s private member’s bill have not yet been decided, but it is likely to immediately reject her call for a conscience vote, and have the issue decided on party lines in the lower house. Should these tactics be adopted, they are not risk-free. Morrison has a one-seat lower house majority, and climate change is a major issue in numerous Liberal-held seats like Mackellar (Falinski) and North Sydney (Zimmerman) in NSW, and Kooyong (deputy Liberal Party leader and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg) in Victoria. 

Further straining Liberal Party cohesion on the issue, the NSW Coalition government’s Environment Minister Matt Kean said, ”extreme weather events are a result of climate change and we need to be taking steps to mitigate the impacts of climate change”. 

He has also commissioned the state's chief scientist to prepare a report on how a decarbonised state economy could be a leader in clean energy. 

In December’s NSW Young Liberals called on the federal Liberal-National Party government to make sweeping changes to tackle “the extraordinary challenges presented by human-induced climate change”. 

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