Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, representing the Prime Minister. Today, global gas giant Woodside joined the mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP in calling for a carbon price to be reinstated. They want investment certainty because even the miners, Senator Canavan, understand that a carbon price is the most effective way to drive down emissions. Given that Woodside have donated nearly a million dollars to the coalition over the last decade so that they can write your other policies, why won't you listen to them on this one?
Senator Di Natale's problem is that I've been in this place for too long, because I was here when the Greens political party voted with the Liberal-National Party to defeat Labor's emissions trading scheme, to defeat the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. I assume that the Greens, like us, wanted to see environmental policy that was also economically sensible. That is, of course, our position. Our position as a government is that we will continue to do what is right by the environment in a way that is economically responsible, because we don't believe there should be conflict between doing the right thing for the environment and doing the right thing by the economy, because doing the right thing by the economy is important for the future opportunities of Australians to get ahead, and that is going to continue to be our focus.
I am very pleased that Senator Di Natale has referred to Woodside, a proud Western Australian company, as a global giant. It is an outstanding company which is doing great work and providing great opportunities for young Western Australians to pursue a career. You know what? Woodside actually helps to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by exporting LNG into locations around the world where it helps to reduce emissions in those economies.
Minister, given that you defeated economic growth and you defeated pollution reduction by voting to defeat the carbon price, why won't you drag your climate-denying colleagues—
Honourable senators interjecting—
Minister, why did you defeat economic growth and pollution reduction? Do you accept that the same pattern has occurred in places like California and Europe? When will you finally drag your climate-denying colleagues into the 21st century and adopt a real climate policy?
Clearly I need to continue with the history lesson. The Liberal and National parties made a decision some time ago that we did not want to push up electricity prices for families and business in a way that just shifts emissions to other parts of the world, where they would be higher for the same amount of economic output. I was just stunned—imagine my surprise when I was sitting on this side opposing Labor's emissions trading scheme, and there was Senator Bob Brown and Senator Rachel Siewert and Senator Hanson-Young and Senator Christine Milne—and guess what happened? It went down. Don't come here telling us how important it is to have an emissions trading scheme. You voted against it. We at least are consistent. You go out there voting with us to do the right thing by the economy, and now you are here trying to virtue-signal in your contest with the Labor Party. Give me a break.
When will you stop misleading the Australian people and saying that we are going to meet our emissions reduction targets in a canter, when your own department says that we are going to miss our Paris target by between 868 and 943 million tonnes because you refuse to accept the science and adopt a policy that works?
The preamble to that question by Senator Di Natale was clearly an attempt to get back into the bosom of the Labor Party when it comes to policy on climate change. We know what would happen if Labor and the Greens got into government, which is the indication of his preamble. If Labor and the Greens got back into government, do you know what would happen? They would put in place a carbon tax. It would push up the cost of electricity. It would harm the economy. It would harm investment. It would put jobs at risk. It would make Australians poorer—all just to shift emissions overseas, where, for the same amount of economic output, emissions would be higher. You would be forcing Australian families to make sacrifices for something that would actually make the world climate worse off. That is not sensible climate policy, and that is why we're continuing to pursue the policy agenda that we're pursuing.
You go your hardest at the next election. Tell people that you want to see higher electricity prices—you, together with the Labor Party.