The ACT Greens have expressed their anger and disappointment with Federal Labor and Liberal’s responses to requests for explanations of their national climate policies from their ACT counterparts.
The Greens say Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s response was full of “lies and bluster”, while Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese failed to even respond to Chief Minister Andrew Barr’s request.
Last year, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed a motion put forward by Greens MLA Jo Clay with tripartisan support that called on each party to write to their Federal counterparts and request detail on each party’s national climate policies as well as ask them to commit to “certain climate actions” such as 100 per cent renewable electricity.
Ms Clay says the response, or indeed lack of response, from each party has been telling.
“I’m particularly upset by Anthony Albanese’s failure to respond,” Ms Clay said. “We’re in a climate crisis and to have Federal Labor not even answer and not even tell us what they will commit to ahead of a federal election is frankly outrageous.
“We know from their policy platform that they have committed to very weak targets that are not consistent with the science … and we know they receive donations from the fossil fuel lobby.”
Mr Barr’s office suggested Region Media contact Federal Labor for an explanation as to why they were unable to reply to his letter – sent on 17 January this year. Mr Albanese’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to advocate for stronger emissions reduction targets at a national level.
Speaking in the Assembly last November, Opposition spokesperson for emissions reduction Leanne Castley said the Canberra Liberals were “fed-up with climate change being a political issue” and it was time to show young activists politicians are not all “blah blah blah”.
In his short response, Mr Morrison wrote that his government was “taking a responsible, technology-driven approach to tackling climate change”.
“Australia will continue to reduce emissions while keeping our economy growing, maintaining affordable, reliable energy and ensuring our regions remain strong, and we expect the average Australian to be around $2000 better off in 2050 under our plan than without it,” his letter read.
Ms Lee was unavailable to comment on how she viewed Mr Morrison’s response before the deadline for this article.
Last year the Opposition Leader, who is also the party’s spokesperson for climate action, attended COP26 where she said in a speech it was important that voices from across the political spectrum were present for discussions around climate change.
“We all want to leave our planet just as beautiful for the next generation to enjoy. I think it is important that voices from across the political spectrum are present for discussions around climate change action,” Ms Lee said.
Greens candidate for Canberra Tim Hollo said Ms Clay’s motion had “flushed out exactly what we would have expected and known about the federal parties’ positions on the climate crisis – the good, the bad, and the very ugly of national climate policies”.
Mr Hollo was impressed with Adam Bandt’s “comprehensive and supportive” response to ACT Greens’ Leader Shane Rattenbury’s letter and his words of congratulations for local climate action.
But Ms Clay said action at an ACT-level alone was not enough.
“The problem with climate change and the environment is that they are national and global issues and we are doing really well in the ACT … but we can’t actually fix climate change in the ACT as an island by ourselves,” she said.
While the ACT Greens have formed either coalition or minority governments with ACT Labor since 2008, Federal Labor has indicated it will not work willingly with the Greens to form a government.
Mr Hollo, however, believes Labor will be forced to work with the Greens “if they have to”.
Labor wants to legislate a 43 per cent emissions reduction target for 2030 if it wins the election but the Greens want pollution slashed 75 per cent this decade and the country on the way to net-zero by 2035.