The Hon. Luke Hartsuyker MP
Member for Cowper
Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister
39 Little Street
Coffs Harbour, NSW, 2450
8 August 2016
Dear Mr Hartsuyker,
We congratulate you on your recent re-election as the Federal Member for Cowper and appointment as Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister in the new Turnbull Government.
As you will be aware, we are two community organisations with many members and supporters across the Cowper electorate. All of these members and supporters have great concerns about the future of our country due to the scale and impacts of climate change.
These impacts include:
- Bleaching coral off the Solitary Islands, and mass coral bleaching ravaging the Great Barrier Reef.
- Heatwaves which make it hard for children to concentrate or play sport at school, and are potentially deadly for the elderly and vulnerable.
- More intense bushfires and a longer fire season.
- More intense droughts and less reliable rainfall impacting agriculture and our food security.
- More intense storms risks flash flooding and damage to homes and towns.
- Rising sea levels threaten our coastlines, infrastructure, economy and our way of life.
There are clear resolutions to these problems. We ask you to consider the following actions as priorities for the next term of government:
1. End carbon pollution. At the Paris Climate talks last year, the Turnbull Government agreed to the goal to limit global warming to below 2 degrees and preferably 1.5 degrees. The current targets and policy frameworks proposed by the Turnbull Government are inadequate to cut emissions in line with what scientists say is necessary to meet these goals. Climate policy should be efficient, effective, scalable and stable - and we encourage you to work with the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to realise this.
We cannot accept the risks that come from a hotter, more volatile climate. It is essential that we cut emissions to net zero as quickly as possible, and before 2040.
2. Clean up the energy system. We were pleased to recently hear the new Minister for Energy and the Environment, Josh Frydenberg, speaking positively of the need to transition to a low carbon energy system. This must be followed by a formal commitment to a strong renewable target beyond 2020 to give guidance to investors about the direction of the energy market.
The Turnbull Government will need to set out a roadmap to 100% renewable energy. We refer you to the recently published Homegrown Power Plan by Solar Citizens, as well as the Zero Carbon Australia project by Beyond Zero Emissions. We note that Mr Turnbull himself spoke at the launch of the latter in 2010 and we look forward to his leadership in this direction, with your active support.
Most immediately the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will be critical to achieving this, specifically ARENA’s grant-making function and the full $1.3 billion in capital grants funding provided in the current legislation.
In addition, the Turnbull Government will need to rapidly develop a national plan to phase out all coal- fired power plants, starting with closure of the oldest and dirtiest coal fired power plants in this term of government. Communities and workers must be supported through this process. A government-led transition plan will be better for energy markets and for consumers and will ensure access to clean, affordable power for all.
The Turnbull Government will also need to ensure there are no new coal mines or coal mine expansions, as a first step towards a complete phase out of all fossil fuel extraction in Australia.
3. End fossil fuel subsidies. Over three quarters of Australians support ending subsidies for fossil fuels, which adds up to $7.7 billion of taxpayer funds. In particular, the Government should:
● End non-agricultural fuel tax credits, boosting the budget by $5.5 billion;
● End exploration and prospecting deductions for the mining industry ($650m);
● End statutory effective life caps for the oil and gas sector ($349m);
● End the concessional rate of excise levied on aviation gasoline and aviation turbine fuel ($1.24b);
● Confirm that the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility will not invest in fossil fuel projects or in infrastructure that primarily assists such projects.
We respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss these important issues in more depth. As your constituents in Cowper, we would welcome constructive dialogue with you, our elected representative. Sarah Wood from Coffs Coast Climate Action Group will contact you to find a suitable time. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0431 299 707.
Coffs Coast Climate Action Group
Climate Change Australia - Hastings