NSW Liberals call for national debates on climate change science
March 8, 2016
The NSW Liberals have formally called on the Turnbull government to conduct public debates about climate change – including whether the science is settled – in a stark reminder of the deep divisions within the party over the issue.
A motion passed at the party’s state council calls on the government to “arrange and hold public debates/discussions” between scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and “independent climate scientists”.
The motion says the events should cover “the global warming/climate change debate”; “the claims by the IPCC”; and the statement “is all the science settled”.
It proposes the first debate be held in Sydney, the second in Melbourne and “the others to take place one in each state”.
Fairfax Media understands the motion passed with support of more than 70 per cent of delegates at the state council meeting held on the Central Coast last weekend.
A second motion called on the Turnbull government to hold an inquiry into Australia’s engagement with the United Nations on climate change and report back to the party by mid-year.
But an amendment by NSW MLC Catherine Cusack, supported by left faction powerbroker Michael Photios, ensured the motion was sent off to the party’s platform committee for consideration at a later stage.
The motions – which were debated after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had left the room following his speech – reveal the level of climate change scepticism among the Liberal base in NSW.
Sources say Mr Turnbull – known to strongly support action on climate change – was heckled by sections of the party during his speech and a large section of delegates refused to rise when he was given a standing ovation.
The successful motion will be conveyed to federal environment minister Greg Hunt. Mr Hunt’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
A spokeswoman for the NSW Liberal Party said: “We encourage robust debate of policy motions at state council”.
Mr Turnbull has been accused of compromising his principles on climate policy since taking the prime ministership from Tony Abbott, who had previously described debate around the science of climate change as “absolute crap”.
Conservative government MPs warned Turnbull not to stray to the left on climate change when he took the leadership.
Despite supporting the measure as opposition leader, Mr Turnbull does not now support an emissions trading scheme to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The federal government says it still intends to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which funds renewable energy infrastructure.
Mr Turnbull has also been criticised for failing to intervene to stop cuts to the CSIRO’s climate monitoring and modelling units.