THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT
LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA
THE HON MARK BUTLER MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER
MEMBER FOR PORT ADELAIDE
MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE NEGOTIATIONS IN THE DARK ON IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is the Minister responsible for Australia’s international climate change policy but doesn’t know – or care – what impact climate change is having on the world.
In a Senate Question On Notice from Labor, Ms Bishop was asked: “What impact will climate change have in the Minister’s area of portfolio responsibilities?”
Ms Bishop said she can’t provide a response to that question because it would involve “an unreasonable diversion of departmental resources”.
This is despite the fact Ms Bishop’s department is responsible for international climate change issues and is home to Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment, Mr Peter Woolcott, who leads Australia’s negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
It’s astounding that just five months ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) the Minister who will represent Australia can’t answer such a fundamental question.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) famously insisted another Minister accompany Ms Bishop to the Lima climate talks last year.
While Ms Bishop reportedly “went bananas” when told she would be accompanied by Trade Minister Andrew Robb, her admission she knows nothing about climate change suggests the PMO’s concerns were well-founded.
It’s time the Abbott Government got serious about climate change and Australia’s approach to COP21 – starting with the responsible Minister.