Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon defends his call for Labor to accept Government's reduced climate change target

Member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon
Member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon

Member for Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon has defended his shock call for Labor to accept the Government's reduced climate change target, which has sparked a backlash from some of his own colleagues.

Mr Fitzgibbon, the Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources, says the Government has not been held to account for its years of inaction on climate, and that has to end.

He has called on Labor to drop its green house gas emissions target from 45 per cent to match the Government's more moderate 28 per cent.

In today's AdvertiserMr Fitzgibbon wrote a letter to fully explain his decision.

"Our Prime Minister speaks from both sides of his mouth," he writes. "He says he's on track to reduce our emissions by 26-28 percent by 2030, but his energy department says emissions are rising.

"When pressed on the inconsistencies in his messaging, Scott Morrison turns the attack on Labor and its more ambitious commitments to reducing green house gas (GHG) emissions. If his tactic continues to work, we'll have six more years of GHG emissions growth rather than three. That would be 12 years of inaction."

Mr Fitzgibbon acknowledged that some Australians might want higher emissions-reductions targets. But he points out the first task has to be holding the Government to its existing emissions targets.

"Reducing emissions by 28 percent by 2030 may not be ideal but it would be a huge change in Australia's current trajectory. And if we can reverse the growth without damaging our economy, we'll have a great platform from which to argue there is scope to be more ambitious.

"Labor has to point the spotlight in Scott Morrison's direction."

Mr Fitzgibbon suffered a major voter backlash at the May election where his comfortable majority was slashed - a reaction he puts down largely to the Coalition's scare tactic over Labor's 45 per cent target.

Read Joel Fitzgibbon's open letter here.