Straight from the Senate - Issue 15

5.00pm | April 12, 2017


1. Last week I met representatives from the Pacific Calling Partnership, an organisation that seeks to amplify the voices of the people of the Pacific.

They visited my office to present me with their petition, which has around 1,200 signatories from several states. The petition calls on the Senate to act urgently on climate change, given the impacts of climate change on the Pacific. I look forward to tabling this petition in theSenate when we sit in May. 

2. I was both bemused and dismayed last week when Minister for Energy Josh Frydenberg made the insightful observation on Q&A that when it comes to renewables, Australia can’t be Denmark.

His problem stems from the complete dearth of support from his party for action on climate. The former PM of Denmark said “If you think it through... it is possible. It does require investment. And often investment will require political will.” My view is that we can move to a low carbon future. What is needed is political courage and a plan. Labor has both.



Chris Bowen and our economics team have been doggedly pursuing Scott Morrison about the cost to our economy of his deal with Nick Xenophon to cut corporate tax.The cuts will cost the budget $24 billion, but the government has refused to  say what benefit they will bring to the economy.  The Grattan Institute’s modelling suggests it will be less than 0.2%. Scott Morrison is yet to have a response. His silence speaks volumes.

Ed Husic MP, Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy, has called on the Government to launch an independent inquiry into its digital transformation programs and expenditure on information and communications technology. The digital spend by the Commonwealth has doubled since the Coalition came into office, from $5 billion to $10 billion, all the while the Innovation PM has overseen the Census fail, Centrelink robo-debt debacle, and repeated crashing of the Australian Tax Office website. We now have reports that the Child Support Agency ICT upgrade is overdue and over budget, costing over $100,000 per day in consultant fees. An inquiry is essential to rebuild trust in government digital services.


Penalty rates, the minimum wage and the gender pay gap

For the past few months, I have been holding hearings into Australia's energy future as the deputy chair of the Senate Select Committee into the Resilience of Australia's Energy Infrastructure in a Warming World. Last Friday the committee handed in its report, and the remarks by the Labor Senators on the panel are available here

During our inquiry we heard from a huge range of voices: scientists, energy utilities, companies with exciting new technologies and workers from the energy sector. We heard time and again that the Coalition Government is squandering a valuable opportunity by refusing to deal with climate change. Australia's energy infrastructure is ageing; almost 75% of our plants are at or near the end of their lives. We are going to have to invest to replace these, but in the absence of certainty about our emissions reduction policies, investors have effectively gone 'on strike'. This is leading to higher power prices and shortfalls in supply at peak times. 

Labor has a clear policy to resolve this crisis and assist us in this significant transition. An emissions intensity scheme will provide investors with the certainty they need to help us transition to a clean energy future. This policy is supported by everyone from the National Farmers' Federation to the CSIRO. More information on Labor's climate change policy is available here

In Labor,

Jenny McAllister