A FAITH-based group has handed their federal member 560 New England residents’ signatures in an Australia-wide petition asking for more action on climate change.
Armidale’s Maxine Ross presented Barnaby Joyce with the petition yesterday morning at his Tamworth office, on behalf of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC).
Mr Joyce said he would table it in parliament, but “there’s two sides to this equation”, the other being residents who couldn’t afford their power bills.
Ms Ross was accompanied by Uralla’s Lee Milroy and retired priest Father Ron Perrett – Mr Joyce’s religion teacher at Woolbrook Public School.
The ARRCC is gathering names in all 150 electorates in Australia.
The petition calls for the House of Representatives to:
- commit to deeper, more urgent reductions of Australia’s greenhouse emissions;
- develop a plan, and support families and communities, to ensure we achieve zero net emissions well before 2050; and
- provide more help for our neighbours affected by climate change.
Mr Joyce said the New England was already a renewable energy exporter and Australia ahead of its international obligations.
However, he said, “We’ve got to make sure we get this equation right.”
“We’re one of the renewable exporters in this electorate, investing over $1 billion around Glen Innes alone in renewable energy [but] we’ll do more harm than good if we go about our power requirements in such a way that they become unaffordable,” Mr Joyce said.
“The National Party’s position is that we’ve must look after the poorest. Our electorates are the poorest.”
Mr Joyce said power prices rose every time a coal-fired power station shut.
“They said that would never happen after Hazelwood closed down – it did. Close down Liddell and others, they will go up exponentially,” he said.
“Why I temper these things is: you just have to decide whether you want electricity on a level you can afford it.”
Ms Ross said she empathised, but “there’s a leap of courage that we have to make into renewables, and when are we going to do that?”