Bill's Transcripts

Radio Interview: ABC News Radio - Paris COP21; Labor’s positive plan for climate change action






SUBJECT/S: Paris COP21; Labor’s positive plan for climate change action


MARIUS BENSON, HOST: The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten is in Paris for the climate conference and a little earlier this morning, I spoke to Mr Shorten.


Bill Shorten, just a general question to begin with - what's your purpose in being in Paris when so many people are in Paris?


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I want to understand better what the rest of the world is doing on climate change. I have had a great opportunity already to talk to leaders of nations through to businesses through to non-government organisations and it is very apparent that a lot of people throughout the world take climate change very seriously and are committed to making sure that we work together to restrict the global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius increase.


BENSON: And the people you've been speaking to, are they familiar with Australia's position and are they telling you what they think of Australia's position?
SHORTEN: Yes, Australia sadly has been quite notorious for being a climate change denier for the last couple of years under Tony Abbott. People are aware that Tony Abbott is no longer Prime Minister but what they are also telling me is when will the policies change from Tony Abbott's policies?. They are comparing us to Canada. In Canada they changed Prime Minister and Canada has changed their climate policies. In Australia it is becoming clear to people that we've only changed our Prime Minister but the climate policies haven't changed.


BENSON: Can I ask you about some of the specifics that have come from Malcolm Turnbull's intervention in Paris - one is that the Government has opted out of signing an international agreement to phaseout fossil fuel subsidies. How do you feel about that decision by the Government?
SHORTEN: I can see both sides of that argument. For me it's not just a question of whether or not Australia has diesel fuel rebate, which I support keeping as well. The question is Australia pretending to do climate change reform, or is it fair dinkum? This conference is about setting out the global action on climate change from 2020 onwards, post the Kyoto conference goals. And yet, today the Australian Government has fronted up and announced that they are going to implement the second stage of the Kyoto goals and Labor had announced that three years ago. My point is, leave aside the technicalities, Australia needs to be acting on climate change, gaining some of the investment opportunities and job opportunities that come with that, and we need to pull our weight. Having seen what other countries are doing, I am not convinced that Malcolm Turnbull is on the right track by keeping Tony Abbott's policies.


BENSON: But just to clarify on that one on phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, the Government are saying it will not do that and that would endanger the diesel rebate among others, you are with the Government on that?


SHORTEN: I don't think when you look at all the policies, I think there are other ways to achieve meaningful change on climate and that's why we have committed that by 2050 we believe Australia can be a net zero emitter of carbon pollution. We believe that we should be guided by Climate Change Authority policies which keep temperature rises within 2 degrees increase and that's why Mark Butler will be consulting with industry, with community on the Climate Change Authority's proposals. The Climate Change Authority was set up to be an independent body, it was set up to do the best practice research. Ever since they have made a recommendation on what policies should be in Australia for the long term, the Liberals in power have studiously ignored it. We won't ignore the best science. People can vote for Labor in the complete assurance that we are backing the science and that we are not interested in the short-term politics.


BENSON: Some other things the Prime Minister has announced; Australia contributing at least $1 billion over the next 5 years to help Pacific neighbours build climate resilient  and also that Australia is going to be contributing to the fund generally to assist developing nations on climate. You'd be in favour of both of those?


SHORTEN: The truth of the matter is that the Government needs to spell out where they are finding this money. If they are taking it from other aid programs which were going towards tackling infant mortality or basic literacy in developing nations, it is really robbing Peter to pay Paul. So I think the Government needs to come clean. Is this just some tricky accounting where they move money from one column to another column and nothing actually changes or is it a new commitment from the Government? Secondly, what the Government said today is good as far as it goes. But the truth of the matter is that this is a government which not showing any bravery at all. There is a real contrast between Malcolm Turnbull - insurgent backbencher chasing Tony Abbott's job - and the person we have now got who took Tony Abbott's job. The right-wing of the Liberal Party as far as I am concerned, are still running climate change policy in Australia. There is a better salesmen but the substance of the policies and the low ambitions and the short-termism of the current government's statements on climate change are hugely disappointing I think for everyone who thought by changing Tony Abbott you'd become much more fair dinkum nation in dealing with climate change.


BENSON: And that is the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten speaking from Paris.