MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE - Climate Change


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (16:25): Again, can I try to bring a reality check to this debate which the Greens, the Labor Party and the ABC seem to continue to want to thrust upon the Australian public. Senator Lines and Senator McAllister talked about these thousands and thousands of people. Even according to the organiser's own estimates, there were 100,000 around Australia marching in support of this philosophy and against the Turnbull government, which means that there were 23,400,000 Australians who did not march and who think the government's proposals at Paris are just right. So 100,000, even according to the overinflated estimates of the organisers, marched around the whole of Australia; 23,400,000 Australians did not march. Keep that in your mind for a reality check.

As I always say about this debate, Australia emits less than 1.2 per cent of all emissions of carbon in this world. If you shut down Australia completely, if there was not a skerrick of carbon coming out Australia, it would not make one iota of difference to the changing climate of the world or to the world's environment, not one iota of difference would it make. So you just need to bring some reality into these debates.

The Greens and the Labor Party hate the fact, absolutely loathe the fact, that under the Turnbull government, under the Abbott government, this nation is actually doing something to reduce emissions. That does not really matter if we stop all our emissions. It would not make any difference to the world's changing climate if carbon emissions are what are causing it. Nevertheless, Australia has gone along and we are reducing particulate emissions into the atmosphere. I think that is always a great idea. I am one of those who always acknowledge that the climate changes. I always say, 'Once upon a time, Australia was covered in ice and the centre of Australia was a tropical rainforest.' So of course the climate changes; always has.

Even if you accept that carbon emissions by mankind are causing something then Australia, with such a limited reduction, will make not one iota of difference. Having said that, Australia is one who meets its targets. We signed the Kyoto protocol, and we have actually beaten the targets we set ourselves then, whereas we are lectured by the American President, Mr Obama, about our Barrier Reef. Yet his country would not even sign the Kyoto protocol and wanted nothing to do with it at all. We have the American President come out and make promises. It is easy to make promises—just join the Labor Party or the Greens. It is so easy to make promises; it is a lot harder when you have to meet the promises you make. President Obama, as long as he is left in the White House, will have no influence whatsoever on the American reductions.

If you believe that carbon makes the difference and you want to do something about it then have a look at America, have a look at Canada, have a look at India, have a look at China. When their carbon emissions are down to what Australia emits then you might start looking at Australia and saying, We've got to take more drastic action.'

But I ask for this reality check. As I say this, 23,500,000 Australians did not bother to go along to the march organised by the Greens, Labor, GetUp! and the ABC on the weekend. Those 23.5 million Australians think the current government is doing a pretty good job. We are exceeding our targets. We are ahead of the game, and the Greens and the Labor Party just hate it.

The Kyoto targets I have mentioned. Australia makes a promise, we do it in all seriousness and we actually meet those targets that we set, and we continue to do that. I heard one of the previous speakers from the opposition talking about how it was a dirty trick—an accounting trick. But, of course, we use the same United Nations accountancy on targets as has been happening for some time and as the previous Labor government used. But it is like so much from Labor and the Greens: if the coalition does it it is bad, but if Labor do exactly the same thing then it is good.

Again in this whole debate, I ask for and urge some reality—a reality check on what this is all about. I emphasise that Australia has a responsible and achievable—I emphasise again 'achievable'—emissions reduction target. We are going for 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and because it is Australia who has promised it Australia will meet that target, because we are one of the few countries in the world that have met their targets. We have done it without buying these dodgy credits that popped up all over the world and made the merchant bankers a lot of money. We have done it without buying those dodgy carbon credits. We have done it by serious, achievable and affordable emissions of carbon.

When this subject is debated, can I just ask Australians to take a reality check. Look at what really is happening. Australia emits less than 1.2 per cent of the world's emissions, and our emissions do not really mean much at all, but still we are going to follow along and reduce our emissions, as we have promised before and as we have achieved before.

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