Senate debates

Wednesday, 5 December 2018



7:19 pm

Photo of Eric AbetzEric Abetz (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Paris, the 'City of Light', is ablaze. Ablaze not with shimmering Christmas lights strung along the ribs of the Eiffel Tower. No, Paris is ablaze not figuratively but literally. As we speak, the Champs Elysees is littered with the carcasses of burnt-out police cars. The Arc de Triomphe stands defaced with grafftied profanity, and the shelves of businesses stand charred and abandoned. Over 100 people have been hospitalised, and police have been engaged in running street battles. The French watch in horror as their neighbourhoods are engulfed in raging violence. This violence is an entirely homegrown phenomenon, protesting against President Macron's decision to increase the levy on diesel fuel by over 14 per cent. And what is the rationale for this radical raising of revenue? France's Prime Minister has described these measures as a 'taxe carbone', a carbon tax designed to ward off—you've guessed it—climate change. In other words, this arbitrary increase in fuel prices was just another exercise in Chicken Little environmentalism.

In the tres chic circles of inner Paris, this policy was very well received. But, outside of Paris's bubble, it is a very different story. In smaller towns and rural regions of France, car or truck ownership is not a luxury but a necessity. These non-Parisians can't commute to work via the metro. They are like many of my constituents in Tasmania—they have to drive many kilometres each day. Those massive increases in the cost of fuel, courtesy of a carbon tax arbitrarily imposed for the sake of this dogma, have smashed the economy of regional France, and the people are fighting back. We are talking about real pain inflicted on real people in real life.

Thankfully, in Australia, we resolved these issues without the unacceptable antisocial behaviour displayed by our French cousins. In Australia, we rejected the carbon tax, and resoundingly so, at the ballot box in 2013. Why? Because it was hurting real people. Sure, the Canberra bubble and elites condemned the Liberals; indeed, we were told we were so out of tune with the desires of the Australian people that we would be resoundingly defeated at the ballot box. But the Australian people embraced the Liberal promise, and we abolished this household budget-busting, jobs-destroying tax with a people's mandate so generously given in that landslide election victory.

Make no mistake, sound environmental policy is supported by our fellow Australians and, indeed, by the Liberals. What the Australian people, like the French, won't support is counterproductive cost-of-living-sapping virtue-signalling policy from the self-appointed elites. The billions of dollars of taxpayers' money spent in bad policy on producing more expensive energy has seen pensioners, small businesses, household budgets, farmers and manufacturers all severely prejudiced. In this debate, they are the forgotten people, not like the ones that fly to the international gab-fests in their private jets and then complain about the carbon footprint of countries like Australia that seek to provide energy at a reasonable price to their pensioners, their small businesses, their farmers and their manufacturers. Indeed, we've seen jobs and wealth exported from Australia to other countries where they then burn our coal and emit CO2 in even greater quantities than we would—thus, if we believe the proponents, hurting the world's environment even more. Talk about lose-lose! Despite these glaring objective facts— (Time expired)