Thursday, 17 July 2014
Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014, True-up Shortfall Levy (General) (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014, True-up Shortfall Levy (Excise) (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014, Customs Tariff Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014, Excise Tariff Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Manufacture Levy) Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2014, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2014; Third Reading
This is a critical moment for our nation. There are a number of new senators in this chamber and their vote today, and the vote of every person in this Senate, will be the legacy of their political career. That is because voting for—
Mr President, I rise on a point of order. I appreciate those on the other side may not agree with the contribution, but Senator Macdonald could at least desist from interjecting for perhaps 10 or 15 seconds while another senator is making a contribution on the third reading.
A vote for the abolition of the clean energy package is a vote for failure because it is a recognition that this parliament does not want to face up to the four to six degrees of warming, which is the trajectory we are on as a planet. They do not want to face up to what is intergenerational theft, because a planet facing the warming that we are now being subjected to, and will be subjected to, is a planet experiencing the sixth extinction crisis. It will be a planet suffering rising sea levels. It will be a planet suffering food security crises and it will be a nation, Australia, failing to play our role in global negotiations. We will be a global pariah as the rest of the world moves to try to secure a treaty in 2015 to give people on this planet a chance of survival in the face of a climate emergency. Australia will be relegated to a pariah and a backwater. But it is also a failure to understand that the future is going to be powered by renewable energy, by innovation, by excitement and by new manufacturing.
If this parliament votes to abandon the clean energy package, you are voting against the best interests of the nation. It is a huge opportunity cost to Australia. We will be sidelined in global capital markets. We will be sidelined in innovation. Already GE is out today saying that the pipeline of investment in renewable energy is in jeopardy because of what Australia is doing. This is an appalling day for Australia when a government, rather than lead in the face of what the world is facing up to and rather than lead and be ahead in the race to the future, is determined to stick with the past. So the Greens say, absolutely: this will be a short-lived victory for the Abbott government and those who vote with it today, because Australia will not stand for it. People want this country to lead. People want innovation. People want the clean energy future and people will understand very quickly that the supposed benefits will not be realised. But what people will face is another summer of extreme weather events and more summers after that, as our Pacific neighbours will
And so, I am here to say that the Greens will join with everyone across the country in bringing back to this parliament a more rigorous framework of legislation that will get Australia onto the track we need to be on; that is a 40 to 60 percent emissions reduction target on 2000 levels by 2030 and net carbon zero by 2050. That is the kind of ambition that we will be out talking to the community about and making sure that we get back to this parliament. We will give hope to future generations. That is what we are going to do: go out and provide hope and a focus on the future while the government and those who support it today are going out to the community focussing on the past and giving people nothing but despair. The future demands people who face the challenges posed now. The Greens are up and ready for that task.
As one who, at the very beginning of this debate, crossed the floor against my own party, I would like to say a couple of words in the final debate on this long-running issue.
First of all, we have heard from the Greens political party the ultimate in hypocrisy. The Australian people, clearly, voted at the last election on what everyone knew was a referendum on the carbon tax, to get rid of the carbon tax. I want to congratulate those political parties who went to the election promising the repeal of the carbon tax and who have actually voted on the basis upon which they were elected. I mention the Democratic Labour Party, Senator Xenophon, the Palmer United Party, the Liberal Democrat Party and the Family First Party, all of whom made it quite clear when they went to election, like the coalition, that if Australians voted for us we would get rid the carbon tax. It is the ultimate in hypocrisy for the Greens political party then to say that they know better than the Australian public, that they know better than our fellow Australians voting at an election. It is typical that the Greens think that they know better than everyone.
Opposition senators interjecting—
Let them go, Mr President, I enjoy it! They will not understand the will of the Australian people and yet they claim to be part of a democracy. Can I conclude on a matter that I mentioned in my very first speech in this place. If there is a problem with global warming—notwithstanding that in Brisbane on Saturday morning we had the coldest day in 113 years, but I leave that behind. I have always indicated that I have an open mind on this. But what I do say is that Australia emits less than 1.4 per cent of global emissions. Without serious work by the United States, China, Russia and the European Union, a five per cent reduction in Australia will make not one iota of difference to all of the things which the leader of the Australian Greens political party would have us believe will occur as a consequence of today's vote. I congratulate the Australian public for their decision, and I congratulate all the parliamentarians who have followed the dictates of the Australian public in having this bill passed today.
This is a fundamental moment in Australia's history. We are about to devastate the future of this country. We are about to take this country backwards in droves through the mindless ideological bent of the coalition. Australia today will be a laughing stock to the rest of the world. We are sending this country backwards—and all for what? For playing politics: playing politics with Australia's future, playing politics with our environment and playing politics with our children. It is an outrageous moment in Australia's history when the coalition are sending this nation backwards. We know that there are so many of them who do not believe the science. Senator Macdonald's contribution just now makes it clear—the hypocrisy—that in fact he does not have an open mind. He has never had an open mind on this issue. Labor stands by the science. We stand by the economists who have made it very clear that an emissions trading scheme is the way forward for this country—as so many other countries are moving towards, or have already moved towards, including some of our most hugest trading partners—China, the US—
our largest trading partners, China and the US. This is a moment in Australia's history, a fundamental moment when this country is going backwards. Labor will not stand with the government on this. Labor stand with the scientists, and we stand with the economists. Labor is voting for the environment. We are voting for the future, the future of our children. And that is why Labor will not support these bills.