Climate Change - Matters of Urgency - 22/09/2014


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (17:05):  This is an urgency debate, and I have to say that there could be nothing less urgent than the Prime Minister attending the United Nations Climate Summit in New York. It will be just another talkfest, like the much-vaunted Copenhagen climate change conference was years ago, and it will achieve about as much as the Copenhagen conference achieved—absolutely zero; zilch.

Those supporting this urgency motion seem to place a lot of faith on the fact that a tiny, tiny percentage of the Australian public, of the 22 million people in Australia, happened to attend a protest march in Melbourne on the weekend—a protest march no doubt organised and rallied around by GetUp, who, as I have said before, are just an element of the Greens political party. What a pathetic turnout in Australia—10,000 people in Melbourne at the weekend. And, for that reason, this motion demands that the Prime Minister should go to New York.

There are urgent issues for the Prime Minister to deal with, and they are in Australia—that is, dealing with Labor's $600 billion debt that is costing us something like $33 million a day in interest; dealing with difficulties with our Indigenous Australians; and, this week, dealing with terror aspects and the security of each and every Australian. They are the issues of urgency for the Prime Minister, and I am delighted to say that he is not going to New York for a climate change talkfest but is staying in Australia to address the really urgent issues. He will be going to New York later this week, but that is to again work on the security issues that are so vital to each and every Australian.

This debate should be put in perspective. Australia emits less than 1.4 per cent of the world's carbon emissions. On the recent analysis that came out just over the weekend, I think we have even dropped in that. The climate change debate is turning into a real farce. I understand that the real debate in New York will not be on the level of CO2 in the atmosphere and how it is affecting the climate but on whether the global cooling that has been going on for some time is for 15 years or 19 years. I understand that is going to be the big issue discussed in New York: global cooling and whether it has been going on for 15 years or 19 years. Then we will be hearing about the sea ice expansion in the Antarctic, which we have been told for years has all sorts of problems. Here we are with, unfortunately for the IPCC, the sea ice in the south increasing. In the north, I accept, it is decreasing, but it simply shows that the science is not confirmed and not settled. I see that the University of New South Wales Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science has said that part of this is because of increased heat in the Pacific Ocean. That was in a peer reviewed paper. A similarly peer reviewed paper that came out a little while later by another university said that the heat was in the Atlantic Ocean. Clearly, the scientists are themselves confused.

As for the Prime Minister not being there, neither will be the prime ministers of India or China, two of the nations that are by far and away the biggest emitters of carbon—and I should add to that: perhaps President Putin of Russia. The American President will be there. Whilst President Obama says a lot, his congress, which represents the wishes of American people, stalled Mr Obama at every turn.

As I said at the beginning of my address, I cannot think of anything less urgent for the Prime Minister to be in New York. I am delighted that the Prime Minister is staying at home to address the issues of real interest to Australians.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Seselja):  The question is that the motion moved by Senator Milne be agreed to.

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