Thursday, 21 November 2013
Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Manufacture Levy) Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, True-up Shortfall Levy (General) (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, True-up Shortfall Levy (Excise) (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, Climate Change Authority (Abolition) Bill 2013, Customs Tariff Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, Excise Tariff Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, Clean Energy (Income Tax Rates and Other Amendments) Bill 2013, Clean Energy Finance Corporation (Abolition) Bill 2013; Consideration in Detail
I believe that the Prime Minister will go down as the Neville Chamberlain of the climate change crisis. You may remember, Mr Deputy Speaker, that as World War II was brewing Neville Chamberlain went over and saw the Fuehrer and came back and said, 'I've got all this sorted—no problem.' He told the people to go home and to get a nice, quiet sleep. Well, I believe that is exactly what the Prime Minister is telling us to do, that we have got nothing to worry about, that we do not have to make any changes to the way we do things, we should just go home and have a nice quiet sleep.
We have had many of those on the other side tell us about problems from the financial impost that has occurred to people in their electorates. It is true that any change in the economy does cause some pain, some adjustment. That is the way of the world. But it can be managed, and it has been demonstrated that it can be managed. We have had members opposite saying it does not work. We have seen a 6.1 per cent reduction in our emissions from electricity generation but at the same time our economy continued to grow. We have had this really naive expression that we are running against the tide by putting in place a carbon price. This is the bit that I find really extraordinary. Just as we are seeking to remove any pricing on carbon, what do we see around the world? We see that next week Beijing and Shanghai will both sign up and commence the operation of a carbon emission scheme. They will be joining Shenzheng and Guangzhou, which have already got an emissions trading scheme. That actually encompasses more than 50 million people—more than twice the population of Australia. But we keep saying that no-one else is doing this. It is really interesting to see what has been actually happening in China. They chose seven cities to start off with to have an emissions trading scheme. There was concern among some of those seven cities that by the scheme being confined to them industry in those areas would be tempted to relocate to unaffected provinces. However, the very opposite appears to be occurring. According to reports, some Chinese regions that have not been included in the ETS trial are now putting their hands up and saying that they want to join in too.
I think there are profoundly strong economic arguments, putting aside all the environmental arguments that we have heard. This is a matter of fitting our economy up. The sorts of adjustments we had to make in the 1980s when we were floating the dollar, when we were removing the tariff barriers, do require adjustment and there is a measure of pain. But ultimately that is what we have to do to get our economy in shape. We see countries now around the world and areas around the world embracing ETSs. Very interestingly, the American states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont talk about introducing about their emissions-trading scheme early, with the emphasis on learning and moving towards a more mature scheme, just as they did in the EU. They call it the 'learning by doing' phase. All these countries around the world are moving to an ETS—moving slowly, with a modest price on carbon, which is what we want. We want to align ourselves with the EU and the schemes that are coming on in all those Canadian provinces and US states. We need to do that. We need to work out how you do it. We need to be part of this global development that is happening. It is happening. As I say, next week it is Beijing and Shanghai.
What we are seeing here is not only the most appalling act of appeasement, an appalling betrayal of the Australian people which will end in disaster, but it is also an act of economic vandalism. It is taking us backwards. We need to accept that there is going to be a more carbon-constrained reality and make the adjustments that are necessary to do it now. (Time expired)