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Estimates Reply - Jaensch

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 16 June 2022

Tags: Climate Change, Environment, Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Dr WOODRUFF - Chair, there are many things to report back on, but I wanted to give an overview of my reflections on the minister's responses and his actions as the Minster for Environment and Climate Change, arguably the most important issues facing Tasmanians today. 

For the rest of our lives we will be responding to the rapidly heating planet and the effect it is having on natural disasters increasing and our capacity to produce food, our capacity to have homes that are safe, our capacity to have the infrastructure that links our communities together and is able to survive the pressures that we are seeing unfolding in eastern Australia right now, not to mention all around the world. 

I started off asking the minister about when he would release a climate action plan for Tasmania.  Currently, under this Government, there is no plan of action for how we respond to natural disasters.  There is no plan for how we respond to multiple crop failures as a result of climatic conditions we cannot control, except for the emissions that we put into the air, and that is something I will get to. 

I talked about what the New Zealand Government is doing.  They are doing some incredibly wide-reaching stuff.  Standard stuff, really.  We only get excited about it because there is a dearth of it in Tasmania.  New Zealand has an action plan to protect communities and the financial system from shocks and future disasters from natural events that will occur more frequently. 

The response of the minister was that there will be an action plan after the climate change legislation, which has not, so far, been produced.  It is delayed by a year on the Government's own time frame.  This time last year the Government promised Tasmanians, the climate change stakeholder community and the parliament that we would have that legislation last year.  Here we are -

Mr Jaensch - It was tabled last year.

Dr WOODRUFF - You are in control of government business and we are not.  You have not brought it on.  It is fine for you to have it sitting there as a not very important order of business.  It is obviously much more important to push through anti-protest legislation, while we heard from Ms Archer that there is zero evidence the Government can produce that there has been a single example of a protester harming a person in a workplace in Tasmania.  There is nothing.  Nothing to underpin it. Nothing with WorkSafe.

The Government's priorities are distressing for young people.  They are very anxiety-provoking.  The glacial - glacial and dangerous - pace of action from this minister on preparing us for the inevitable increasing natural disasters is appalling and shameful.  He should be named the minister for dithering.  He is certainly not the minister for climate change action.  What we have just seen from Ms O'Connor with him in Children and Youth is the same thing repeated portfolio by portfolio.  Where is the state of the environment report?  Where is the climate change action plan?  Where is the legislation to govern us on the most important issue we have in front of us as a community this century? 

In addition to the glacial pace of action, the other narrative that was very clear from the minister's responses in question times is a series of false statements the minister made designed to pretend to people who are listening that there is some concern to take action on the issues that matter the most to them.  Those issues, for anyone who is concerned about climate change, would be reducing the emissions that we put into the environment.  The minister said: 

Our Government is leading the way in terms of our EV fleet, in terms of the emissions that we control.  Reducing emissions has to be an absolute key focus of what we do.  We are taking that commitment to track those emissions down to their source, to work with the owners of those emissions and reduce them so that we can remain net zero or below, up to and beyond 2030.

They were the minister's words.  I will put it to him:  why then, will you not meet with Dr Jen Sanger, who has just produced a report on the amount of emissions that government-managed Forestry Tasmania is putting every single year into the atmosphere - emissions that this Government controls?  This Government can do something about those emissions.  Those emissions are the largest source of emissions of any single sector in Tasmania and they can be gone with the strike of a pen - 75 million tonnes of carbon can remain protected in our forests until 2050. 

Our carbon-dense forests are being logged and burnt every single day, every single year with this minister's complicity.  The emissions from that logging and burning creates more carbon dioxide-equivalent gases going into heating our atmosphere than 1.1 million cars on the road, two‑and‑a-half times more than our whole transport sector.  The minister has the gall to talk about the only thing that this Government is doing to reduce emissions, which is to increase the number of electric vehicles in the government car fleet.  Even that is a lie.  There is no effort to do this, none at all.

I asked this minister questions, I asked the minister for Transport questions about how this is being done, and in Treasury.  It is not happening, it is words that go nowhere, designed to create a false sense of action, designed to trick young people into thinking that their Government is taking this seriously, is taking action.

I asked you, minister, 'Talking about reducing emissions, which you have agreed is a key and important measure', he interrupted me and said 'It has to be the main game'.  If only people could believe what you said, minister.

Mr Jaensch - Mmm.

Dr WOODRUFF - No 'mmm, mmm', if only people could believe what he said.  Why not get up and talk about the main game?

Mr Jaensch - I do but you do not want me to interject, otherwise I would be all over you. 

CHAIR - Please do not incite the minister.

Dr WOODRUFF - You do not have the guts to stand up and answer that question directly to people.  When you said to me in a committee, on behalf of all the people I represent, that controlling, reducing our emissions has to be the main game, yet, you say absolutely nothing about the largest source of emissions in Tasmania. 

Mr Jaensch - I have read in a dozen initiatives and you can just choose not to hear them. 

Dr WOODRUFF - The largest source of emissions in Tasmania is written very clearly in this report, Tasmania's Forest Carbon:  From Emissions Disaster to a Climate Solution.  We can have a solution, we can retain and enhance the stores of carbon in our forests.  Instead of having the highest emitting industry in Tasmania being the native forest clearfelling and burning sector, we can end that and make something really substantial. 

The reason  the Government is going soft on a commitment to a net-zero-today target and to bettering that by 2030, is because they are planning to keep logging the 400 000 hectares of still-available native forest between now and 2030.  They are planning to make sure that every single bit of the carbon stored in those forests will be emitted into the atmosphere.  That is the Liberals' plan, that is what the Liberals are doing in government.  They are keeping to door open to logging the native forest until it is gone, until it is emitted, until every single stick of wood is either lying on the forest floor or has been burnt.

We will not stop talking about it and the community will not stop talking about it.  People will not stop protesting because the minister is obviously not listening to science, he is not listening to children, he is not listening to the community of people who are concerned, he is not listening to anybody, I guess, except the people who are paying the piper.  It is about signalling in the dirtiest and most dangerous way to the wrong people in the community.  We utterly reject everything that this minister is trying to do in this portfolio because it is pathetic and hateful. 


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