Senate debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Matters of Urgency

Climate Change

5:40 pm

Photo of Matthew CanavanMatthew Canavan (Queensland, Liberal National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I welcome the opportunity to debate this motion. I must confess I have felt a hole in my life since the Glasgow climate conference ended. It was the best comedy I have seen for decades. It was a laugh a minute. I was waiting with bated breath for most of the agenda. Ever since it's ended, it's been a bit like the Olympics ending—there's nothing to watch on TV anymore; nothing really comes up to scratch. One of the highlights was on day 42 or something, which was the gender innovation science day. I know Senator Duniam was watching that one. There that was an absolute cracker.

But it was mainly the participants at Glasgow that made it what it was. It was the people who went along there. We all owe them a debt of gratitude. One of my favourite parts was the headline of a Reuters story, I think, which said, 'German Greens want more Russian gas'. It sums it up, doesn't it? The Green activists like to talk the talk—they love to talk the talk—but when it comes to walking the walk they still want to be able to heat their homes and to be able to fly to these climate conferences, and they'll use fossil fuels as much as they can to get there. They just don't want the gas coming from Australia or from their own countries. They like it to come from dictatorial regimes like Mr Putin's or indeed the Chinese Communist Party's, which we'll get to.

Another favourite was BBC Scotland, who during the Glasgow conference tweeted:

Gas and air is the most popular pain relief in childbirth, but many don't realise its climate impact.

That's what they tweeted. I've had five children and I don't think I'll be going to a delivery suite again, but for all those listening, particularly the blokes out there who may one day find themselves in a delivery suite trying to give comfort to their wife, I make the suggestion that it's probably best not to say to your wife in that circumstance, 'I know this is tough, honey, but we must think of the planet.' I don't think that would be a smart idea. I don't think you should do that. No-one is going to do that. How absurd are these guys? How absurd is the United Nations, who say that to save the planet we're allowed to eat only 14 grams of red meat a week? So if any of us here are going down to the Kingston Hotel and having a 400-gram rump this fortnight, just remember that's a little bit over your allocation for the month. That's it for you—no more red meat for the month if you care about the planet, otherwise you are an environmental vandal. You're a criminal, in fact. You're absolutely a criminal.

But I can't go through this contribution without paying tribute to the greatest entertainer Australia has exported for some time, Mr Twiggy Forrest. He was over there getting some pressure, I suppose, about the fact that President Xi Jinping had not attended the Glasgow conference. He responded by saying that he was going to convince Xi Jinping—unsuccessfully as it turned out—to come along to the conference. Mr Forrest was reported as saying that, from what he sees happening in China, the younger generation have a very strong will to have carbon-neutral power. Mr Forrest went on to say:

And one thing which the Chinese government is incredibly good at doing is listening to the mood of its people.

That's what he said. I actually agree with Mr Forrest. I agree with Twiggy on this one, because I ask you: when is the last time you heard a person living in China complain about their own government? It doesn't happen. You never hear about it. It's just not happening. They must be doing a fantastic job, because there are no complaints coming out of China. Mr Forrest is absolutely right. How absurd are these guys? These are the people who want to tell us what to do, who want to dictate our lives, and who want to tell us what to eat, what car we can drive and how we can power our homes.

The Greens have done all this work, but I don't know if they stayed around for the end of Glasgow. They must have missed the ending because this motion says that, because of the Glasgow conference, we're not allowed to approve new coalmines or build new gas facilities. That's not actually how it ended. It ended in tears. The whole thing ended in tears—literal tears. There was crying because India had the temerity to want to develop and grow the same way other industrialised economies have done, so they demanded that, in fact, coalmines and coal-fired power be still allowed and that they just be reduced over time. There was no mention of gas being ruled out completely, which means nothing about the approval of the Scarborough project is inconsistent with Glasgow. This motion simply shows that the people over either were not watching Glasgow or were so mentally scarred by it that they have already repressed the experience from their memory, because Glasgow was a huge win for oil and gas.

Ever since the end of the Glasgow conference, there's been nothing but good news for the workers in this country who work in this great coal industry—which we are lucky enough to have—and for those who work in the oil and gas industry. It has been a cavalcade of great news for them. We already heard it mentioned here that we've had the approval of the massive $16½ billion Scarborough project, with over 3,000 Australian jobs. Three thousand people from this country will be able to work thanks to the approval for that project going ahead. They've attracted $16½ billion of investment. We're constantly told no-one will build coalmines or gas fields. Well, they're doing it. Since Glasgow, we had the headline in Reuters, 'China doubles down on a slower coal exit after COP26 spat'. So China is continuing with more coal. It's a green light for coal under this Glasgow agreement.

One of the more remarkable things concerns the Dutch government, which is a very green government. They were committed to a stronger Glasgow agreement than ended up coming out. But, since Glasgow, the Dutch government are now focused on trying desperately to keep a little company called Shell headquartered in Amsterdam. What are they doing? They are offering Shell a tax cut of 15 per cent, to keep them in the Netherlands. So they went to Glasgow. They flew over there, presumably, in their private jet, which has got to be fuelled with fossil fuels. They say they want to go green. Then they go back home to the lovely surrounds of Amsterdam and give tax cuts to big oil companies, because—guess what?—they want jobs, too. I'm sure the Dutch government want jobs, too. Finally, since Glasgow, we've seen the headline, 'US coal prices surge to the highest level since 2009'. That's the highest point in over 12 years. This is because this restriction of coal, oil and gas is pushing up fossil fuel prices to record levels—the highest levels that we've ever seen—because there is significant demand for fossil fuels around the world.

I want to finish on making a very important point that relates to the Scarborough project. This is a project that will produce oil and a lot of gas, and there are a lot of things that comes from those products. I think the average Australian doesn't understand that it's not just about heating our homes or what we put in our petrol tanks. Oil and gas create a whole raft of other products that our modern economy relies on. One of the saddest pieces of news since Glasgow has been that Incitec Pivot, an Australian company, has announced that it will close the last urea manufacturing facility in Australia. Urea is the most important fertiliser used in agriculture production. It is the fertiliser that is, by far, the most used in this dry continent, and, without it, we would not be able to grow the same amount of food that we currently grow. Now we will be completely reliant on imports for our urea fertilisers. Urea comes from natural gas. You cannot make urea without natural gas. It is the carbon dioxide in urea that activates plant growth and allows us to grow things in this world. But you never hear that from these so-called experts on the oil and gas industry who like to say a lot about an industry that they know very little about, that they talk to no-one in, and that they just want to shut down, not knowing the consequences for average Australians.

This is not just about the workers in that industry. It's not just about the royalties that help pay for our hospitals and schools. It is about our basic ability to feed ourselves as a country, to power ourselves as a country and ultimately to defend ourselves as a country. If we shut down all the oil and gas and coal production here in this country, we know that the Greens, as I said, will still want the products; they'll still want to eat, they'll still want to fly and they'll still want to be able to heat their homes, so they will instead import all those products from other regimes who don't shut down their production, like China and Russia, and we will be more dependent on those countries. To defend this country, we need to support our resources industry, including coal, oil and gas.


No comments