MOTIONS - Energy


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (17:29): For those few people who might be listening to this debate late on a Thursday afternoon, what you've just heard is another typical lying Labor speech—a speech that's full of lies and inaccuracies. It's like the motion we're debating, which is in three parts, and the three parts are just lies. The senator who just spoke was inaccurate in just about everything she said. She calls those of us who have a sensible, commonsense view on electricity and on the climate 'deniers', as if a denier is worse than a paedophile. As I have said to her and to anyone else any number of times in this chamber, I am not a denier. I accept that the climate is changing. It always has changed. Once upon a time, the earth was covered in snow. Once upon a time, the centre of Australia was a rainforest. Clearly those two things don't occur these days. So, of course, the climate is changing. It's always been changing. I don't deny that, yet Labor Party and Greens politicians time after time get up in this chamber and accuse me of being a denier, as if that is, as I said, worse than being a paedophile. Well, I am not a denier. I accept that the climate is changing, and I think everyone on this side of the chamber does.

Then the previous speaker said, 'Senator Macdonald doesn't believe the science, doesn't understand the science, won't take the advice of scientists.' Well, I'm sorry for the senator who spoke before: I am relying on science. In fact, I'm relying on Australia's Chief Scientist, who told me at estimates, when I asked him about it, that if you shut Australia down completely it would have 'virtually no impact on the changing climate of the world'. Yet the Labor Party and the Greens continue to run around, continue to lie to young children, continue to try to propagandise all of our young people at schools that Australia is causing climate change. Yet Australia emits less than 1.2 per cent of the world's carbon emissions. If carbon emissions are causing climate change, then what impact would cutting Australia's 1.2 per cent by 26 per cent, which the coalition is doing—or 40 per cent or 50 per cent or whatever it is that the Labor Party wants, or the 80 per cent that the Greens want, or even 100 per cent, which means you'd shut down every building, every factory, every office in Australia, and there'd be no cars; there'd be nothing in Australia—have on the changing climate of the world?

Don't ask me for the answer; ask the Chief Scientist. He will tell you, as he told me in estimates—and it's all there, recorded for everyone to read, and if you can't read you can watch the video exchange I had with the Chief Scientist. What impact would that have on the changing climate of the world? Virtually nothing. Yet the previous speaker from the Labor Party was trying to tell the Senate that I don't listen to science. Well, sorry, but I do. I listen to the Chief Scientist. Clearly she didn't—can I call her 'she', or have I got to call her 'they'? Clearly the previous speaker has not listened to the Chief Scientist, doesn't understand what it's all about, simply goes along with the propaganda and rhetoric that's churned out.

I'm pleased to say that there is some hope for the Labor Party, because, while most of them just follow the propaganda, I see that the CFMMEU have at last tried to bring some sense to the Labor Party when they warn the Queensland government that its ambitious 50 per cent renewable energy target is 'not realistic' and that Labor should instead back new clean coal power stations. That's the CFMMEU—not a union I usually instance in supporting any argument, although I do make the point that, when Michael O'Connor was head of the forestry section of the then CFMEU, he and I worked together against the Labor Party to save the forestry jobs of workers in Tasmania. I'm pleased that Mr O'Connor and his CFMMEU, as it is these days, is at last starting to stand up for mining workers and to realise that the party that the unions support, the Labor Party, doesn't care one iota about workers in the mining industry, about workers in my state of Queensland. I can understand why nobody from Queensland in the Labor Party cares about workers in the mining area, because all of their senators come from Brisbane. They wouldn't know what a mine looked like. They would barely know Central and North Queensland, where the mines are. Occasionally they blow in and out on a one-day trip, but they don't understand what it's all about. That's why they're so out of touch, even now, it seems, with the CFMMEU.

I read somewhere that I think the AWU is starting to come around to my way of thinking—that emissions from Australia have no impact on the changing climate of the world, again, agreeing with the Chief Scientist, Dr Finkel. They are starting to realise that these are jobs of the workers that the unions are supposedly looking after. I'm pleased to see there is a light starting to burn in the unions, who allegedly look after the workers, and I'm pleased to see that light is starting to show through. It'll take a long time to get through to the thick brains of members of the Labor Party, but at least it's a start. And, because the unions completely control the Labor Party and all of the senators from the Labor Party in this chamber, I'm hopeful about the action and leadership taken by the CFMMEU and I believe the AWU—and I think the ETU is also starting to raise doubts about the policy that the latte set in the Labor Party have been running for the last decade or so.

I keep asking any Labor Party senator, any Greens senator—no-one will ever answer my question—how anything we do in Australia, which emits 1.2 per cent of the world's carbon emissions, is going to make one iota of difference to the changing climate of the world. Criticise me all you like, but the Chief Scientist agrees with me that, no matter what we do in Australia, it will make not one iota of difference. Senator McAllister was saying, 'When John Howard started this, he started a movement, and every other country in the world stood up and said, "Australia's doing this, so we'd better do something about it."' I'm as proud an Australian as anyone, perhaps prouder than anyone else. I'm very, very proud of my country. I think we're a great country. We do wonderful things. Yet, sadly, when we attend international conventions, people struggle to work out whether we're Austria or Australia. So, to the senators who would say that, because Australia has done something in the emissions area, everybody else follows suit, that is laughable. Much as I'd like it to be the case, I'm afraid that's not the reality.

I mentioned the lying speeches we've heard from the Greens and the Labor Party, which are completely devoid of any accuracy, any truthful statement. They are relevant for this particular motion that the Senate is debating, because the three elements of this motion are all in themselves lies. The first part of the motion says that the Senate notes that government policy inaction is driving up electricity prices. Well, hang on. Until recently, the states were entirely responsible for electricity prices—regrettably, most of them are Labor states—and prices kept going up and up, mainly because Labor states are mad keen on these expensive, subsidised renewable energy projects. They don't want coalmines; they don't want to look after the coalmining workers, so they've gone to these very expensive renewable energy schemes that have pushed up power prices. Of course, in my state of Queensland that suits the energy company, particularly the one up my way, because it's entirely owned by the Queensland state government. It makes huge profits and the Queensland Labor government love that because they can't run a budget. They're almost as bad as Wayne Swan—also regrettably a Queenslander—and the Labor Party federally. They can't run a budget. The Queensland Labor Party can't run a budget, and they rely on the dividends from Ergon Energy and the other electricity companies to try to keep their budget in some sort of order. And they do that with the Townsville Port Authority. Every other agency the Queensland government owns contributes their profits to try to help the Queensland government in some way get near to balancing their budget—not that they ever achieve that. So the first part of this thing is an outright and abject lie.

Then it says we're 'abandoning the National Energy Guarantee' and that's another lie. The National Energy Guarantee is coalition policy, and it's all about reducing prices and confirming, guaranteeing, reliability, which is something the Labor Party doesn't understand. The Labor Party ran South Australia for years and years and they ran out of electricity. That's how good they were at trying to keep even the lights on, let alone keep the prices down. So the coalition government does have a policy. It's not about emissions. Our Paris target—which I think is a farce but we have made it—is to 26 per cent, I think, which we've almost achieved without any legislation, so dropping the legislated carbon emissions target from our National Energy Guarantee is irrelevant. We've achieved that 26 per cent reduction without legislation, without the big stick, but by arranging incentives.

The second part of the motion:

… observes that the Government refuses to act, citing any and all excuse to delay, when everyone knows it is internal Coalition division and the weakness of the Prime Minister that are really to blame …

Again, none of that is factual or truthful. The government has acted, but the Labor Party won't help. The Greens won't help. They'll just sit in their corner and criticise and encourage prices to go up because they think it gives them a political advantage. That's all it's about—pure, raw, crass politics. The government has acted.

The motion goes on to say—the third lie; the third element of the motion which is simply incorrect:

… that Australians deserve real leadership on energy ...

Again, what Australia has got from this government, for the very first time at federal level, is a clear position and real leadership on energy. This is something that wasn't originally a Commonwealth responsibility, but the Commonwealth—the federal government, the coalition government—took it over because the states were simply incapable of keeping the lights on and keeping power at affordable prices. So the Commonwealth has come in to try and make sure we have reliable supplies of electricity at reasonable prices. The initiative taken by the coalition in relation to making gas available within Australia was just one element of that policy, which has been so successful today. The coalition has spent a lot of time debating this and a lot of work has gone into getting a national energy policy. Whereas the Labor Party, in the six horrible years they were in government, did absolutely nothing. I might say—digressing slightly—that the Labor Party criticise us for shipbuilding failures in Australia. Labor were there for six years. They didn't build a ship. They didn't even build a canoe! They took no action towards a shipbuilding industry, whereas, under the coalition government, we will shortly have a thriving, sustainable and long-term shipbuilding industry. These are just some examples of the wonderful work coalition governments have done over decades to help Australia along.

I'll return again to the speeches from the previous Labor speaker and the previous speaker from the Greens political party. They are fixated on carbon emissions. They know that going to renewable projects at this time, at this stage of the cycle, is enormously expensive. That's why electricity prices are so very high in Australia. They know it, but they can't bring themselves to accept the reality that that's one of the reasons why electricity prices have skyrocketed. The renewable energy guarantee was, I regret to say, an initiative of the Howard government, but it's one that everyone now accepts has been a failure. It hasn't brought the price of electricity down. It hasn't brought the price of renewable energy down. It has just made it more and more difficult for ordinary Australians to be able to turn on their lights.

Labor Party and the Greens political party senators just go along with the rhetoric because it's easy to do. As they're sitting around drinking their latte coffees in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney, it's easy to feel that they're doing something for the world when, in fact, if they had any brains—if they had just a smidgen of common sense—they could work out, like the Chief Scientist has confirmed, that nothing Australia does will have any impact on the changing climate of the world, particularly now America has pulled out of any international agreements. India were never in them. China allegedly is in them but only pays lip-service to them. China opens a new coal-fired power station every couple of weeks. So nothing we do in Australia will have any impact except to send Australian jobs overseas. The Labor Party have been pretty good at doing that over their terms in office. The demise of the car manufacturing industry—most industries in Australia—occurred under the Labor years. Their fixation with this ideological position on carbon emissions has meant that Australia has simply become uncompetitive. Factories have all moved overseas, and Australian jobs have gone with them.

For all the rhetoric of the Labor Party, all the viciousness, all the anger in their speeches directed at me and others, they can't even look at the commonsense approach. Forget about the Chief Scientist; just have a look at yourselves. A bit of common sense—

An opposition senator interjecting

Senator IAN MACDONALD: You know this. You understand as well as I do: nothing we do in Australia is going to make one iota of difference, so why are we whipping ourselves? Why are we flagellating ourselves just to get the approval of some United Nations committee?

An opposition senator interjecting

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Ask your workers about that. I know you know the answer. I know you've got to go along with Labor Party policy. But you, for one, would understand, because you have a bit of common sense. You can hear what the Chief Scientist says. You know that Labor and the Greens are bound together in this ideological bubble that means nothing. It gives them a warm inner feeling but doesn't do anything at all for the changing climate of the world—and it certainly does nothing for Australia's economy.

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