Labor leader Bill Shorten has launched a full frontal assault on the “big lie” of News Corp newspapers’ “climate change deniers, and their ally, the Prime Minister – a coal-wielding, climate-denying cave-dweller.”
Stung by days of questions about the cost of his climate change policy, the Opposition Leader attempted to reset the debate in Darwin on Thursday, accusing media outlets of running a “malicious and stupid scare campaign”.
Asked about a report in The Australian that businesses might be forced to spend $25 billion on international carbon credits to meet Labor’s emissions reduction targets, Mr Shorten said it was built on “a big lie”.
“It is a nonsense claim and it is built upon the back of a big lie,” he said.
“It says somehow that using international offsets to help abate carbon is a bad thing. Well, if it’s a bad thing, why don’t go they to Josh Frydenberg, the current treasurer, who used to believe it didn’t matter where you cut the carbon from as long as you were cutting the carbon?
“The News Corp climate-change deniers, and their ally, the Prime Minister – a coal-wielding, climate-denying cave-dweller on this issue – they all say, ‘Look at the cost’, but never mention the cost of extreme weather events, do they?
“They never mention the cost of not getting into renewables and they never mention energy prices, do they? Energy prices are up 15 per cent.”
Mr Shorten said News Corp papers were running “a bit of a scare campaign” about international offsets for carbon pollution reduction.
“The $25 billion figure is a lie. It’s so intellectually dishonest it doesn’t deserve to be talked about. We’re using [the government’s] industrial safeguards mechanism. We’re using their National Energy Guarantee. We’re going to work with our energy intensive trade-exposed sectors, cement, steel, aluminium and others, creating a fund to help them invest,” he said.
“The government is now scaring you about policies they used to have and support.
“Did you know that if we properly invest in renewables, there would be tens of thousands of new jobs?
“Did you know if we don’t take action, we’ll have a greater cost on our insurance and arising from natural disasters?”
Mr Shorten said voters were fed up.
“They want to talk about why is this nation paralysed on climate change? It’s because one-half of the Liberal Party, the bully boys, bully the other half. The reality is, if the Liberal Party could be trusted on climate change, Malcolm Turnbull would still be prime minister.”
But Mr Shorten repeatedly refused to detail the cost to business of his own policy.
“I want to say: let’s get this straight. What is the cost of taking no action? What is the cost of no action? I can tell you. Energy prices are up. Cost of living is the big issue. Cost of living and wages are the big issue in Australia.”
“It’s a malicious campaign by this government. What they want to do is scare Australians and say that it’s too hard to take action on climate change.”