Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repal) Bill 2013 [No. 2] - Amendments - Second Reading 07/07/2014

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (21:31): The most exciting thing I heard in Senator Milne's speech is the guarantee that the election in 2016 will be on a carbon tax. Nothing has been sweeter music to my ears than to hear that. I hope the Labor Party will again follow their Greens colleagues in making this the issue in the 2016 election. I can assure senators that the Australian people will give it the same result as they gave it in the 2013 election.

I want to start, while Senator Milne is here, by talking about the global warming that we have heard about so often in her speeches and in this parliament from the Greens and the Labor Party over the years. I quote from an article:

The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.

That was in 2012.

This means that the 'plateau' or 'pause' in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.

Is this Ian Macdonald saying this or some ratbag scientist that is vilified by the Greens? No, sorry. This is the United Kingdom Met Office. They say:

The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, was issued quietly on the internet, without any media fanfare, and, until today, it has not been reported.

I suppose Professor Judith Curry, who is the head of the climate science department at America's prestigious Georgia tech university, will be one that the Greens and the Labor Party will say is not a real scientist, but from all research she seems to be a very real scientist to me. She told this newspaper that it was clear:

… computer models used to predict future warming were 'deeply flawed'.

Senator Milne quoted the United Kingdom government. I understand that the new energy minister—or not quite so new now—promised:

The high-flown theories of bourgeois left-wing academics will not override the interests of ordinary people who need fuel for heat, light and transport—energy policies, you might say, for many, not the few.

Of course, that statement by the UK government bought fury from all those fearing reductions in huge subsidies given to wind farms.

I spoke earlier tonight on a related matter before the Senate. I quoted from an article in The Weekend Australian entitled 'Coral comes back from the dead'. It is an interesting article. I recommend that Senator Milne and her colleagues in the Greens have a read of it. I will quote one passage from this article and invite senators to have a look at the rest. The research was done by a Dr Gilmour. The report says:

Gilmour's boss at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, research director Jamie Oliver, concedes there's still no way of knowing whether powerful cyclones have struck before in clusters. 'I think all we can do at this point is say we are seeing a decline in the reef, and we are seeing that cyclones are playing a major role in that decline but we don't know for sure whether it has been as a result of human activities.'

If you listen to the Greens and the Labor Party, Dr Oliver would be pilloried as a climate change sceptic, simply because he says, as I say and as most sensible people say, the science is not settled. I do not know what Senator Milne thinks of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. I think it is a pretty good organisation. It is just one of many organisations, like the United Kingdom Meteorological Office, who say it is not quite as settled as some would have you believe. I said earlier that there is so much research done into trying to justify the Greens and Labor Party's view on climate change and, if you did not have that view—if you happened to be a scientist that had a different view—you would be pilloried. I mentioned many times Professor Bob Carter as being one that the Greens also pillory, but he is as well qualified as others who have a different view. I know, and I do not think I am giving away any confidences by saying, that he knows that he will never, under a Labor government, get any money for any research that is different to what the Labor government wants the results to be.

I mentioned an answer to a question on notice way back in 2009. I will have to get it updated. Over pages and pages it lists hundreds and hundreds of grants—grants of $250,000, $563,000, $255,000. There are pages and pages of them. All the grant money, all the research money, was going to those who would promote the Labor and Greens view on climate change. If you did not have that view, you got no research money. That is the way this whole debate has occurred in Australia.

I want those in the Labor Party to answer this one question: if the carbon tax is such a good thing, why is it that your leader, prior to the 2010 election, promised that there would never be a carbon tax under a government she led?

Senator O'Neill: Because an ETS is better, Senator Macdonald.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I see. She promised it would not be there and then she introduced it. Tell me: why did she make that promise and then introduce it? It is a simple question. I am just waiting for the answer. Nobody has ever been able to tell me why, if it is such a good thing, the Labor leader promised not to introduce it. It just shows the hypocrisy, the absolute humbug, of the Labor Party and the Greens political party.

I thought the Labor Party would have learnt their lesson. I cannot talk about other states, but I can talk about Queensland. The Labor Party should have a look at the results of the last election in the seats that used to be traditionally Labor. Capricornia, which is based in Central Queensland and in the Bowen Basin coalfield, is as Labor a seat as you will get. I think we have held it a couple of times in the recorded political history of Australia. Who won it last time? Michelle Landry for the Liberal-National Party. Why? Because she opposed the carbon tax. Why? Because she knew that all of those workers the CFMEU is supposed to be representing understood that they would be losing their jobs. In fact, thousands of people in the Bowen Basin mining industry lost their jobs because of Labor and Green policies. And the Labor Party wonder why they did so poorly in the last election! Australians spoke. Nobody could deny the assertion by Tony Abbott before the last election that the last election would be a referendum on the carbon tax. Everybody knew that. What was the result? I do not need to tell the reduced Labor numbers in the Senate what the result was.

The duplicity and dishonesty of the Labor Party over the carbon tax is symptomatic of their approach to this whole question. The Labor scheme had carbon emissions going up by 2020. Those are their figures, not mine. They were all out there and published by the then department. They showed that Labor's carbon tax would actually increase the emission of carbon. They also showed that the cost of living went up for all Australians. They also showed—and this is beyond doubt—that electricity costs went up and would continue to go up. The only thing that went down was the number of Australian jobs. You have seen a rush of manufacturing jobs from our country to overseas countries. We have all given examples of this before. Just recently the Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia was in Weipa—and I am pleased that Senator Waters was there. We heard firsthand how the aluminium industry in Australia is faltering because the bauxite now goes as a raw material straight across to China where they smelt it and make aluminium in far less conducive situations than we do in Australia. There are more carbon emissions when they do it in China than when we do it in Gladstone. This is the Labor Party's view on carbon reduction.

I think we have to keep in mind that Labor's promise with its carbon tax was to reduce Australia's emissions by five per cent. Do I need to remind senators that Australia's emissions of carbon in the world are less than 1.4 per cent? What Labor was going to do with this huge job-destroying carbon tax was reduce Australia's 1.4 per cent of world emissions by five per cent and that was going to save the world. All the biodiversity that Senator Milne talked about, all the forests and all the coral that are disappearing were going to stop if Australia reduced its 1.4 per cent of world carbon emissions by five per cent. How ludicrous! How absolutely ridiculous! How desperately defying logic is the argument of the Greens political party?

I have made my comments about the five per cent, but if that is what is good policy in Australia then I refer to the coalition's policy, which also had a five per cent reduction in carbon emissions but by direct action, things that encouraged people to reduce whatever it was that was causing pollution and particulates. Direct action would work. It is funding things like the wonderful algae project at James Cook University that will help in cleaning emissions from coalmines. They are the sorts of things that the Abbott government's Direct Action Plan would do.

The Labor Party particularly are quoting all of these economists. Have a look at what all the economists in business say about the carbon tax. The Labor Party have got 50 'economists' to sign a bit of paper. What about the thousands of economists in Australia who deal with real life and who demand that the carbon tax go? The Labor Party are quoting President Obama—and I am not quite sure they are quoting him correctly—but I am afraid they did not quote Al Gore, the white knight of the climate change industry. I wonder what the Greens, who used to worship Al Gore, might have thought when Mr Gore turned up with Mr Palmer as he announced he would be voting to remove the carbon tax. I have not heard too much about that at all. I am waiting for someone to give those glowing endorsements of Mr Gore they used to give. To my mind, Mr Gore's actions in relation to the whole climate change debate are circumspect at best, and other people have mentioned that far more relevantly.

They do not talk too much about global warming now because the UK Met Office has said, 'Sorry, it's not warming.' We hear that all of these events are happening more regularly. Remember Cyclone Yasi, up my way? That was the biggest cyclone that ever hit Queensland—since 1917, when there was a bigger one. We do not worry about that. We just think the original Australians must have been responsible for the carbon emissions, when they burnt off large tracts of land before 1917, that caused that much bigger cyclone. But we just forget that; we put it aside; we only talk about Cyclone Yasi. We talk about those huge, destructive, life-taking floods in South-East Queensland a few years ago. They were the biggest floods ever to hit Queensland—that is, the biggest since the early 1950s. We have all of these outrageous claims by those who would have us believe that the science is settled.

I repeat: I am not a scientist. I retain an open mind. I know the climate is changing because, as I mentioned earlier, the world was covered in ice once. It is no longer, so clearly the climate has changed. There used to be a rainforest in the centre of Australia; it is not there anymore. Clearly, the climate has changed. I think every Australian accepts that the climate has changed. But is it man's emissions of carbon that have done that? I do not know. There are respectable scientists who say no, as there are respectable scientists who say yes.

That is why I think Australia has been very foolish in leading the world. Senator Milne would have us believe that China is suddenly going to impose a carbon tax, or that America is going to impose a carbon tax, or that Germany is going to do something serious; but we have all seen the carbon prices and the carbon market, which is fraudulent and subject to manipulation. And this is what the Greens and the Labor Party want us to adopt.

We do have a responsibility to look after our environment. Our Direct Action Plan will help in that regard, and I certainly hope that other parties in the Senate will support it. But we do not need a job-destroying tax to do that. I say that and I know many senators say that, but, more importantly—forget about me and forget about what people will say in this debate about getting rid of the carbon tax—we are a democracy and there could not be a clearer message from the people of Australia to the legislators in this building about what they think of a carbon tax. They want to get rid of it. They understand it destroys jobs. They understand it puts up their cost of living. That is why we must move as quickly as possible to get rid of that soul-destroying tax and all of the paraphernalia that grew up around it, which is the subject of the other bills in the package of bills before the Senate. I certainly urge the Senate to support the bills introduced in this chamber, which reflect the decision made in the lower house to rid Australia of this job-destroying carbon tax.

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