Senate debates

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Consideration of Legislation; Consideration of Legislation

1:03 pm

Photo of Ian MacdonaldIan Macdonald (Queensland, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern and Remote Australia) Share this | | Hansard source

The minister has given no reason that the Clean Energy Amendment(International Emissions Trading and Other Measures) Bill should be dealt with in a rush in the last week of the sitting of parliament. It is quite clear to everyone in this chamber and to everyone who might be listening to this debate that the Labor Party and the Greens want to get off the agenda any legislation, any bill and any discussion that deals with the carbon tax—the carbon tax that Prime Minister Gillard promised faithfully she would never introduce under a government she led.

In her brief comment, the Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations indicated that greenhouse gas emissions were the cause of climate change. I am sure greenhouse gas emissions have a part to play in the changing climate of the world—a changing climate that has gone on for millions of years. This legislation needs to be fully investigated.

We need to understand why we are linking ourselves to a European scheme when the facts and figures show China's usage of coal—and this is no criticism of China—will increase from some 1.2 billion tonnes a year in 2002 to some 7.5 billion tonnes per annum by 2015. You do not need to be a scientist to work out that that consumption of coal will enormously increase carbon emissions. While China is increasing its coal usage from 1.2 billion tonnes per annum to 7.5 billion tonnes per annum, Australia is introducing a carbon tax which puts up the cost of living and makes it very difficult for pensioners and people on fixed incomes to pay their electricity bills. For what results? Australia emits less than 1.4 per cent of carbon emissions.

The Labor Party policy, and the coalition policy, is to try to limit emissions by five per cent by 2020. But the Labor Party's proposals in all their documents show that carbon emissions in Australia will increase by 2020.

I do not have these figures before me, but it was to increase by something like 45 million tonnes. Just last week they upgraded their assessment to something like a 59-million-tonne increase by 2020. The Australian people are paying enormously for this through a carbon tax, and what difference is it going to make when you look at China?

The minister also erroneously told the chamber that all other governments were doing things. She mentioned the United States. Even since the presidential election President Obama has, on three separate occasions, indicated quite clearly to the American people that they will be going nowhere near a carbon tax or anything like it. The minister mentioned New Zealand. How dare the Labor Party compare the New Zealand scheme with the Australian scheme. The Australian scheme starts costing emissions at $23 per tonne. The New Zealand scheme costs emissions at A$1.11 per tonne. The Australian scheme is 20 times more expensive to Australian consumers than the New Zealand scheme is to New Zealand consumers.

We are not going to have the full opportunity of investigating and discussing this bill because, as Senator Fifield correctly said, you can bet London to a brick that next week we will have the guillotine applied by the Greens, as they always do, joining with the Labor Party in curtailing free speech in this chamber. I pause on this point to remind the Greens of when the Labor Party tried to guillotine them on some legislation that they were passionate about—did the coalition support Labor and guillotine the Greens? Perhaps we should have—it would have been in the Greens' best interests—but we did not. We allowed the Greens to have the full debating time because we believe this chamber is a chamber where people should be able to fully investigate all aspects of every bit of legislation. On that occasion the Greens voted with us to oppose the guillotine so the Greens could have their say. But what happens when these more important bills come? The Greens will do what they always do: join with their fellow left-wing ideologues in preventing free speech in this chamber.