Moments ago, the Senate to voted into law Australia's biggest ever public investment in clean and renewable energy - and one of the great achievements of the Greens in this parliament in starting to build a cleaner, healthier, smarter Australia.
It's a profoundly exciting moment for all of us here - after years of campaigning and months of negotiations, the historic $10 billion commitment to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is a huge change for the better for Australia.
The CEFC will invest in the rollout of clean energy technology across the country, from huge solar power stations to smart grid infrastructure to ground-breaking new technologies to create power from sun, wind, earth and water. We'll see a jobs boom, especially in rural and regional Australia, cleaner air and water, a big cut in the pollution that drive global warming, and a substantial shift in thinking as the CEFC begins its work. And this is just the beginning!
We're only days away from July 1 when, for the first time, Australia will start moving to tax what polluters burn, and not what you earn. The largest polluters will be charged $23 for every tonne of pollution they put into the atmosphere, which will drive innovation across the economy - and the tax-free threshold on personal income will go from $6000 to $18,200, and support payments for those not in work will be increased.
The Clean Energy Act we negotiated with the government includes:
- An independent expert panel to recommend how fast and deep to cut pollution, which was appointed this week, including climate scientist David Karoly and others;
- Australia's first Biodiversity Fund, which will protect critical habitat for our native species and establish natural carbon stores;
- An independent body to systematically support renewable energy research and development and a start to planning an Australia powered by 100% renewable energy;
- The end to the absurdity of classifying the burning of native forest products as 'renewable energy'; and
- A price on the pollution that drive global warming, investing proceeds in helping householders and supporting clean, renewable energy.
We're not done yet. There is a lot more to do to put Australia properly on track to tackling the climate crisis.
But this week - from the start of the rollout of the clean energy economy, to starting to tax what polluters burn - shows just how far we have come. It's an exciting time, and thank you all for being a part of it. Without 1.6 million Australians choosing the Greens at the last election putting the Greens in the balance of power in both Houses of Parliament in 2010, none of this would have happened.