Five months ago, the Greens under Senator Richard Di Natale launched “Renew Australia – Powering The New Economy”, an ambitious plan to transition to a new economy built on clean renewable energy and to safeguard a future for our country.
More recently, in the aftermath of the Budget and the decision to call a double dissolution election, Malcolm Turnbull’s government has begun talking about “A Strong New Economy”. While Malcolm has been happy to lift the “transitioning to a new economy” terminology from the Greens, that’s about all he’s borrowed. The two plans are as different as chalk and cheese… or, if you like, coal and sunshine.
In the Liberals’ “plan” – really no more than a pamphlet – they suggest that “strong new economy”means cuts to the CSIRO, unrestrained defence spending, old-style trade deals, tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy, cuts to health and education, more and more massive toll roads and reintroducing the ABCC – by definition, re-establishing something is the opposite of “new”.
There’s one glaring omission from this list, and it’s a big one: global warming. Our planet’s climate is changing rapidly and if we are to have any future at all, we need to adapt. We need to change. And we need to do it now.
A healthy economy depends on a healthy environment; that’s a fundamental truth. The economic cost of climate change is rapidly growing worldwide and the longer we delay taking action, the harder and more expensive it will be to survive.
“Renew Australia” recognises this reality. The Greens vision for a “new economy” is one with clean, renewable energy at its core, and includes:
- At least 90% renewable energy nationwide and doubled energy efficiency by 2030;
- Driving $5 billion of clean energy construction by 2020;
- Transitioning away from coal;
- Creating tens of thousands of jobs in the clean energy and associated industries;
- Creating funds and authorities to oversee the transition for workers and communities.
The Greens “new economy” is fully costed and funded by ending fossil fuel subsidies and truly reforming our tax system to ensure the wealthiest pay their share. That’s a far cry from the Liberal’s “new economy” built on tax cuts for the wealthy.
Ultimately, Malcolm Turnbull’s “strong new economy” is nothing more than déjà vu. His budget still has all the cuts that Abbott and Hockey couldn’t pass in 2014, has nothing new to offer and no vision for the future.
Tom Cummings is the Greens candidate for La Trobe in Victoria