Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Clean Energy Finance Corporation (Abolition) Bill 2013; Second Reading
I was sort of following Senator Milne until she got onto an argument she has made before. She did not put it in these words, but as I understand it she indicated that, because we are getting rid of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, we are going to have more cyclones and floods, and that is going to cost Australia more money. It is typical of the stupid arguments that we have had in this debate from day one.
I am entering this debate today. There will not be a lot of government speakers. Why? It is because we want to get this voted on before Christmas, as we promised the electorate we would do. I am not going to have an opportunity to speak on all of the other bills as they come forward. As all of the other speakers before me have done, I will speak generally on all of the bills—the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (Abolition) Bill 2013 and the related bills. Even though the Labor Party and the Greens moved to separate them, they then continued to speak on all of them. I will do the same.
I would like to ask Senator Milne before she goes why it is that Australia needs to do more to save the world. Senator Milne, is it not true that Australia emits less than 1.4 per cent of carbon emissions in the world? Tell me, someone: is that not true?
Senator Thorp interjecting—
I hear 'per capita'. Australia needs to do more, we were told. We emit less than 1.4 per cent of the world's emissions of carbon. Labor's proposal, supported by the Greens and indeed supported by the coalition, was to reduce our emissions by five per cent. Five per cent of 1.4 per cent—you do the arithmetic. Australia is doing something, and it is proposed by the current government to be doing something. We will reduce our emissions, but we will do it by direct action. We will not do it with the imposition of the world's greatest carbon tax. We will not be leading the world when the world has to do something if it is as concerned as Senator Milne tells us it is.
This debate today, and this whole debate around this package of bills, is about keeping a commitment made to the Australian public prior to an election. That is what we are very keen and determined to do. We are unlike the Labor Party, who before the 2010 election promised us they would not be introducing a carbon tax. Then, immediately following the election, they broke their promise to the Australian public. We do not intend to do that. We intend to meet the commitments we made, which the Australian people supported. This is what the Australian people wanted and, under the Abbott government, this is what they will get.
Quite frankly, I get sick of hearing Labor speakers get up time and time again and tell us how good the carbon tax is and how good the whole package of bills is. I say to them: if it is so good, why did you promise not to introduce it before the 2010 election? Before the 2013 election, why did you try to mislead Australian voters by sending around pamphlets that said, 'We have got rid of the carbon tax; we've actually got rid of it'? You cannot say that the Labor Party has not been warned on how bad this tax will be. Coincidentally, I was just looking through the drawer of my desk here and I found this old report of the Senate Select Committee on Scrutiny of New Taxes from October 2011. I see that Senator Cameron, who made a very impassioned speech just recently, was the deputy chairman of that committee. The name of the report by that Senate committee says it all: The carbon tax: economic pain for no environmental gain. If you go through the report—and it is a very good, very detailed report—you will see that that Senate committee warned the then government that the tax would cost Australia at least $1 trillion, or at least $40,000 for every Australian.
That is why we want to get rid of it. We want to do our part in reducing the electricity bills for average Australians, for ordinary Australians. They agreed with us. That is why they voted for us in spades at the last election. That is why they are desperately waiting for this parliament to do what we promised to do to reduce their electricity bills and remove the carbon tax.
I see there is a long, long list of Labor speakers, because they are going to filibuster this debate through until 1 July, they would hope, and with the support of the Greens they will probably be able to do it. But I ask the Labor speakers, any one of them, to tell me these things. If the carbon tax is so good, why did you promise before the 2010 election not to bring it in? Is it true that Australia is emitting less than 1.4 per cent of the world's emissions of carbon? How is the Labor Party's proposal to reduce those emissions by five per cent going to save all of the ills that Senator Milne is predicting are going to confront the globe?
I am one of those who accept that the climate is changing. As I have often said in this place, once upon a time the centre of Australia was a rainforest. I understand that once upon a time the globe was covered in ice. Of course the climate changes. It always has done. But, in spite of Senator Milne's scepticism and accusation against anyone who does not agree with her, there are equally as many reputable scientists who challenge, or who doubt, that it is man's involvement that has caused the climate change in recent times. You will notice that the Greens used to call it global warming. Now, it is climate change.