MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE - Climate Change


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (18:09): Rarely do I agree with Senator Cameron, but I have to say I couldn't help but agree with him enthusiastically today when he said that hypocrisy just oozes out of the Greens political party. That is so obvious not only in relation to climate change but also in relation to just about everything. The Greens are the party of hypocrisy. The grand poobah of the Greens, the founder of their party, of course is on record, as Senator Duniam pointed out, as supporting coal-fired power. Yet the Greens continue to tell lies around the world about climate change and about coal. In the face of the facts, the Greens cannot accept the common sense, the actuality of the fact that Australia's export of coal actually helps reduce carbon emissions in that it lessens the reliance of the rest of the world on poorer-quality coal.

Now, I have to say, that's as far as I can go in praising Senator Cameron—although, did I detect, and did anyone else detect, a slight change from the Labor Party as we approach the election? That is the first time I have heard any Labor senator being so enthusiastic about the jobs of coal workers. We always talk about that. Particularly where I come from, in Northern Queensland, coal workers' jobs are vitally important to us, but they never seem to be for my Queensland Labor Party colleagues in the Senate; they don't seem to be interested in the jobs of workers in the mines in Central and North Queensland. But their state counterparts do rely on royalties from coal to keep the state budget afloat. As Senator Duniam mentioned, $3.8 billion goes from the coal industry into the coffers of the Queensland state government. Without those coal royalties, Queensland would be even broker than it is at the moment.

Yet the Labor Party people—and I appreciate that the Labor Party are a bit conflicted on this—when Mr Shorten's in the North, he likes Adani and coalmining, and when he's in Melbourne and Victoria, he's totally opposed. The poor old current member for Herbert, Ms O'Toole, doesn't quite know where she is. She doesn't want to support Adani, because that's a swear word in the Labor Party, I understand. But she's trying to pretend that she's interested in workers' jobs—and not just workers' jobs, but all of the small businesses in Townsville, Mackay and North Queensland generally, and Central Queensland, who make their living out of supporting the mining industry generally and the coalmining industry in particular.

Senator Cameron's change of heart is good to see. I hope that follows through. But of course we know we can never trust the Labor Party, and we understand their hypocrisy as well. I was in this parliament when the then Labor leader, hand on heart, three days before an election, gave this rolled-gold solid promise to the Australian people, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' And what was the first thing she did when she got into power? She introduced a carbon tax. That's what you can take from what Labor says. They too, I regret to say, are full of hypocrisy.

I desperately ask, in every one of these debates that we have: can someone—anyone—tell me what is wrong with this proposition? Nobody ever does, and I can guarantee that nobody in this debate today will. But tell me, anyone who's prepared: Australia emits less than 1.3 per cent of the world's carbon emissions. The Chief Scientist is on the record saying what everybody knows: that 1.3 per cent of carbon emissions, if you stopped it completely, would have absolutely no impact on the changing climate of the world. It's a matter of common sense, but the Chief Scientist actually said that on the record. And I ask people: why does Mr Shorten want to cut emissions by 50 per cent and the Greens want to cut them by 80 per cent, when if you cut them by 100 per cent it won't make any difference at all to the changing climate of the world? I accept the argument that Australia has to do its bit, and Australia does more than its bit. We are one of the few countries in the world that have met their Kyoto targets and that will meet their Paris targets. We are genuine when we enter into these agreements, whereas most other countries in the world aren't. So I ask someone to please explain it to me—I've been begging for this for the last 10 years, in fact—but no-one ever can, because there is not an answer.

We talk about renewables. I live in the Townsville region. My office is in Townsville. I live in Ayr. A couple of months ago, we had a period of about four weeks of rain in Townsville. Those who relied on solar energy for their power—sorry—had to turn on the grid electricity and go back to the coal-fired power to keep their lights on. This is one of the problems with wind and solar energy. When the wind stops and the sun disappears, where does your energy come from? It's got to come from a base-load power station, and in Australia at the moment that is principally coal-fired power stations.

I'm pleased that our state party and, I believe, the federal party are keen to promote a HELE coal-fired power station in Queensland. It's one that will use the latest technology, which will mean that emissions will be very, very limited but still much, much less than the alternative coal suppliers around the world. As Senator Williams continues to remind me, China has 103 coal-fired power stations. They are building 130 new coal-fired power stations as we speak. In India, they are building, as we speak, 70 coal-fired power stations. Australia has in total just 22. I repeat: China is building, as we speak, 130—and India, 70—to go with the 1,003 already in place in China, yet the Labor Party want to cut Australia's 1.3 per cent of emissions by something like 50 per cent, and the Greens want to make it 80 per cent. It is just ridiculous. It defies logic. It defies any common sense whatsoever.

People accuse me of being a climate change denier; I'm not. I'm the first one to say that the climate has been changing since records have been kept and even before records were kept, because anthropologists and geologists can work this out. We know that the climate has always changed. Once the world was covered in ice. Once there was a rainforest in the centre of Australia. Once there were dinosaurs everywhere. Clearly, the climate is changing. It has always been the case. We hear people getting up and saying, 'Yasi is the biggest cyclone that has ever hit Australia. That's because of coal-fired emissions.' 'Yasi is the biggest cyclone that has ever hit Australia'—and then they mention sotto voce—'since 1928.' 'The floods in Brisbane were the biggest we've ever had, all because of climate change! They're the biggest that they've ever been since 1933.' It's always: 'This is the hottest day we've ever had in Australia since records were kept'—since some date in relatively recent times.

For all the interjections you get from the Greens, please answer this. Don't just abuse; don't just accuse everyone who doesn't agree with your warped view on life of being idiots or climate deniers or whatever. Just answer the question—because you don't, you never have and I say you never will, because the facts are obvious. I look forward to the day when I'm in this Senate when someone can explain it to me. The Chief Scientist couldn't. The Greens never can. No-one in the Labor Party can. They always avoid the topic. They go on to some other abuse. This happens on Facebook. If you point out the facts, all you get is abuse from the trolls in the Labor Party and the Greens political party. This debate is about hypocrisy: the hypocrisy of the Greens and the Labor Party. (Time expired)

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