Senate debates

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Matters of Urgency


4:34 pm

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I inform the Senate that at 8.30 am today 26 proposals were received in accordance with standing order 75. The question of which proposal would be submitted to the Senate was determined by lot. As a result, I inform the Senate that the following letter has been received from Senator Thorpe:

Pursuant to standing order 75, I give notice that today I propose to move "That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

The 2021-2022 Federal Budget fast-tracks climate collapse, pouring more new money to the coal, oil and gas industry."

Is the proposal supported?

More than the number of senators required by the standing orders having risen in their places—

I understand that informal arrangements have been made to allocate specific times to each of the speakers in today's debate. With the concurrence of the Senate, I shall ask the clerks to set the clock accordingly.

4:35 pm

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

At the request of Senator Thorpe, I move:

That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

The 2021-2022 Federal Budget fast-tracks climate collapse, pouring more new money to the coal, oil and gas industry.

It is a disgrace that the 2021-22 federal budget fast-tracks climate collapse by pouring more, new money into the coal, oil and gas industries. That's exactly what last night's budget did. As if the fossil fuel sector wasn't already getting enough public support, with fossil fuel subsidies running at almost $9 billion a year, last night it got a whole new bucket of subsidies added to the existing, already obscenely large bucket of subsidies.

I am going to go through the figures for each of the indefensible amounts of public money that have been given to these big corporations and mining billionaires that are wrecking the planet and making life more difficult for all of us. Last night's budget did absolutely nothing to help the transition to 100 per cent clean, renewable energy, which would create more jobs and might help us save what is left of the Great Barrier Reef. Not only was there a complete absence of climate action; this government is actively funding climate collapse. The obscene amount—billions of dollars of public money—is utterly reprehensible. We saw last night a pre-election sweetener that failed to make billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share of tax, whilst fast-tracking climate collapse. Instead of taxing the billionaires, we've got stage 3 tax cuts locked in. Instead of making the big corporations pay their fair share, the budget is full of corporate welfare. Instead of investing in planet-saving, nation-building infrastructure, the government handed billions to fossil fuel companies, further accelerating the climate crisis.

To go to those fossil fuel subsidies that I talked about, there's $1.1 billion in new money to oil, gas and coal. Next year it goes up to $11.4 billion, and over the forwards there's a total of $51 billion—that's billion with a 'B'—in public money going to fossil fuel corporations. That is one of the biggest handouts to the fossil fuel industry in a federal budget ever, and we are in a climate crisis! Honestly, you could not design a worse policy, a worse use of public money, than to prop up polluting industries that make the climate crisis worse. They are pocketing all sorts of corporate largesse, and one in three already pays no corporate tax. Meanwhile, the government just vetoed giving public money to a windfarm with a battery backup for reasons that remain known only to the minister himself. They've got an active war on giving public support to clean energy, but they are falling over themselves to give more public money to fossil fuels. It flies in the face of every single climate scientist on the planet. It flies in the face of desperate calls from the community, particularly from the young, for urgent climate action to protect the future. And it flies in the face of the calls from everyone in low-lying areas where saltwater incursion is making it hard for people to grow food and where natural disasters are increasing in severity, frequency and destructiveness. You just could not design a worse approach.

There are some new absolute doozies that the government has come up with. It's not enough that they give cheap fuel to the likes of Gina Rinehart and other big mining billionaires. And can I put on record that we do not object to the diesel fuel rebate for farmers. It has always been our policy not to object to that. I think Senator Birmingham tried to make an issue of that earlier today, so I'll take the opportunity to correct the record. That is only about an eighth of the fossil fuel subsidy, I might add. So we've still got cheap diesel to the likes of Gina and we've got various concessional excises on aviation gas and aviation turbine fuel.

The gas-fired recovery gets $31 billion. The government are in bed with oil, gas and coal and they're trying to champion gas as the solution. No! Wrong way! Gas is a fossil fuel. You've often got to wreck farmland to get to it. You've then got to use more energy to liquefy it for export, where it bumps up the price for domestic gas consumption. It has no saving grace whatsoever. The fact that the gas companies make massive donations to their political parties is not enough for those opposite to sacrifice our collective future and a liveable climate. For shame! But, yes, there's $31.9 billion for a so-called gas-fired recovery.

There are various other fossil fuel subsidies. There is accelerated depreciation. There is a deduction for coal, oil and gas exploration. You are now paying them to do their job so that while they wreck the climate they can make squillions in profits but not pay tax. 'What a great idea!' said no-one ever, except you lot, who take their massive donations. There is 'Advancing Australia's Gas-Fired Recovery'. There is something called 'Strategic Basin Plans', which, when you look at the fine print, means trying to open up the Galilee and the North Bowen to gas. I thought you were trying to open it up for coal, but now you want to open it up for gas as well. The First Nations mobs are not going to be impressed. They haven't given their consent to your attempt to extract coal from those regions, let alone your attempt now to speed up gas extraction.

They are just some of the old fossil fuel subsidies. There's a whole list of new ones that the government have added. There's an additional $1.1 billion in subsidies. They want to accelerate carbon capture and storage. It's like a unicorn—and I'll say sorry to my kids, who might still think they're real—it's just never going to happen. If private industry want to use their own money to try to make it work, they should go for it, but why on earth should they get public subsidies rather than reducing their emissions and transitioning to clean energy sources?

There's money for gas industry road upgrades in the Northern Territory. Again, I know a few First Nations mobs who are desperately underwhelmed at that suggestion.

Unfortunately, I've run out of time. The list of fossil fuel subsidies is so long that seven minutes has not been enough for me to go through all of them. The government are once again just doing the bidding of oil, coal and gas. They don't give a damn about the climate or the community.

4:42 pm

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

Good environmental stewardship is something that we in the coalition believe in and believe in exceptionally strongly. It makes sense, and that is why we are delivering. We are delivering, for example, with our plan which beats our Kyoto targets, and we are on track to meet and beat our 2030 target in relation to the reduction of CO2 emissions.

But something I won't subscribe to is scaremongering and the sort of language that suggests we are facing climate collapse. This has been the mantra for decades on end, with prediction after prediction coming in as false and unsubstantiated. For example, Madam Acting Deputy President, how often have we heard from the media in this country that Maldives is about to disappear under the water? Indeed, if we were to believe the predictions we would believe that Maldives had disappeared and that the population had had no drinking water for the past 28 years. The predictions being made 28 years ago were that this was about to happen. Well, they've kept on for those 28 years.

Even more interestingly for those who might be listening and wondering what has happened to Maldives, which is under such existential threat of climate change and is sinking under the water, a question on notice to Foreign Affairs provided me with this information:

We understand from publicly available information that a number of infrastructure projects have been undertaken in Maldives in recent years, including bridges, airports and tourism-related infrastructure.

Who on earth would invest in these things if they believed they were going to disappear underwater tomorrow or the next day? What is more, these include the ongoing expansion of Velana International Airport. The government of the Maldives further announced in 2019 that not one, not two, not three, not four, but five new airports would be built, in a country that is allegedly going to disappear underwater. That prediction has now been made year after year—28 years ago all of that was supposed to be happening—yet people are still confident in investing in the Maldives with not one but five new airports and new hotels. Who on earth would be making such an investment if they honestly believed that their investment would be underwater within the next few years?

But we as a government believe that it is appropriate to look at the issue of good environmental stewardship, not with hyperventilation and false predictions, dealing not with ideology but with technology, asking the question: can we clean up the atmosphere? The answer is yes. Can we do that in a responsible, measured way? Yes, hence we have been able to beat our Kyoto targets and we are on track to meet and beat our 2030 target. How do we continue to do that? By looking at technology and seeing what can be done if we can invest some of our funding for this purpose. We have a $20 billion fund called the Technology Investment Roadmap, and that will deliver for us the technology needed so that we can meet our targets without mugging our economy.

At the end of the day what we have to accept and realise is that if we want to maintain and keep our standard of living we need reliable, affordable energy, and something that this nation has not done so well over the last two or three decades has been to invest in base-load energy. I for one believe that if you are genuinely concerned about the environmental matters of CO2, chances are nuclear energy would be and should be an option for consideration—nothing more, just consideration. But to say we will not look at a technology for only one reason, ideology, is to sell our fellow Australians short. What we need is to look at all technologies and consider what is the best and most affordable.

The reason that Australia is a First World economy is not that we have no regulations. Some would argue we are overregulated. It is not that we have cheap wages in comparison to the rest of the world. Some might argue they are relatively high. We are blessed to be able to have those relatively high wages in Australia. Or is it that we are so close to other markets in the world? No, it is not. The thing that has allowed us for so long to be a First World economy has been the ability to have cheap, reliable energy. In the 1990s we had some of the cheapest energy in the world. Today we have some of the most expensive energy in the world, and then we wonder why it is that manufacturing has decamped from Australia and gone elsewhere. Well, energy is a vital component in manufacturing, and the market will undoubtedly speak in relation to that.

The country of my birth in recent times, I understand, which has been so reliant on renewable energy, had a problem with a heavy snowfall. All the solar panels were covered, and when there are heavy snowfalls, there is usually no wind. Guess what? They had to import energy from France made with Australian uranium. What that teaches us is that renewable energy, nice as it might be, cannot deliver the base-load energy, unless you have the blessing of a whole lot of hydro power like we do in my home state of Tasmania.

Hon. Senators:

Honourable senators interjecting

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

Of course the Greens are interjecting. You will remember this, Madam Acting Deputy President Polley: the Greens wanted to stop hydro dams in the early 1980s. Do you know what their alternate energy supply was going to be? A coal-fired power station in the Fingal Valley, so said Bob Brown, the former Leader of the Australian Greens. It was on the front page of the Mercury sometime in October. Sure, Senator Whish-Wilson finds that an inconvenient truth, but that is the reality. If you keep on believing the nonsense of the Australian Greens, such as that which is incorporated in this motion, you come to the situation where you deny good, reliable base-load renewable energy such as hydro and, in desperation, you grasp at anything and you suggest a coal-fired power station. Thank goodness they did not build a coal-fired power station, because Bob Brown and the Greens would have been betwixt and between. Could they be demonstrating against the coal-fired power station that they had actually wanted and argued for publicly?

So I say to the Australian Greens and to my fellow Australians who might be listening in to this debate is that what we need is good, sound, considered policy. Here we have a government that is investing in my home state of Tasmania with Battery of the Nation, investing in an enhanced Snowy Mountains scheme and seeking to enhance our capacity to harness gas, which is a very important transition fuel as we seek to reduce our CO2 emissions.

We have heard this idea that we are in climate collapse for decade after decade after decade, and every prediction after every prediction has failed. That does not mean that we should not be good stewards of our environment, and we as a government are. I remind people in this place that the first minister for the environment was in fact a Liberal minister. We are committed to the environment and we continue to be committed to the environment but we are also committed to our fellow Australians—their jobs, their livelihoods—and the capacity of our nation through our manufacturing and economic base to be able to provide the moneys needed for NDIS, for health, for education, and for law and order. You have to have a complete policy suite and that is exactly what the Morrison government is delivering.

4:52 pm

Photo of Sue LinesSue Lines (WA, Deputy-President) Share this | | Hansard source

It is another day, it is another year of the Morrison government, and we have heard it all before. It is 2021 and the climate deniers on the back bench of the Morrison government are the same climate deniers who were there with the Turnbull government and they are the same climate deniers who were there with the Abbott government. When will this debate stop? Whether it is Prime Minister Morrison handing around the lump of coal in the parliament and declaring that coal is his 'friend', whether it was Prime Minister Abbott carrying on and saying that Labor's pricing on carbon would make a leg of lamb $100 or whether it was Mr Turnbull, who pretended to actually be someone who did support a positive policy on climate change—but the backbench roped him in again—the Morrison government, or the conservatives in this country, are never going to deliver the clean energy future that Australians deserve and Australians are calling for. They are never going to do it because that handful of backbenchers have them well and truly around the neck and refuse to let this country move forward. That is what it has come down to—a tiny handful of backbenchers who are holding Australia to ransom.

It is not so much what was in the budget but what wasn't in the budget. I have personally gone to great lengths to buy an electric vehicle—something those opposite won't support at all. Who could forget, at the last election, Senator Cash and the Prime Minister telling tradies that they were going to stand there and not let Labor take their utes away. Electric cars have an enormous capacity, but the choice in Australia is minimal because the federal government is doing absolutely nothing to promote electric vehicles in this country. There was not one word, not one sentence, not one dollar in the federal budget committed to electric cars. Yet in Europe we see all sorts of subsidies being offered. The cheapest electric car on the Australian market at the moment is the MG. At 44 grand, it's out of reach of most Australians, and shame on the Morrison government for keeping it there. Shame on you. If your budget had some vision and some plan, we could be producing electric cars in this country. But, no, those Neanderthals on the back bench just want to deny there's any change in our climate, that we actually need to do things urgently. They are supported by the Pauline Hanson One Nation Party. A handful of people are holding this whole country to ransom. Quite frankly, shame on you.

There is another thing that the Morrison government won't tell you the truth about. They always parrot: 'We're agnostic about power delivery. We just want to ensure supply.' What nonsense. They are not agnostic about power delivery. We know where their heart lies, and it's not with renewables and it's not with wind. I remember when we had that ridiculous inquiry into wind turbines. They were once again pandering to their backbench and a handful of Independents in the Senate at the time who thought that producing energy from wind was somehow the devil's work. What nonsense. We spent months conducting a trumped-up inquiry just to keep their backbench in line. They're cooking the books on the data, because they keep saying Australia will reach the Paris targets. But do you know what? The rest of the world and most Australians don't believe them.

How embarrassing it was recently. Thank goodness that, with the election of Mr Biden in the US, those opposite have had to tame their rhetoric a little bit. We saw the pathetic comments and speeches made by Mr Morrison, trying to pretend that somehow we are world leaders. Most Australians know we are not world leaders. It wasn't lost on the world leaders in the room that Australia is down the bottom, again because of a handful of backbenchers who just refuse to see the reality of what's in front of them, who have no interest in leaving a better world for their children and their children's children, who just want to put their head in the sand and pretend that somehow this is all going to go away.

We have seen Australian business get on with it. I was up in Karratha recently visiting Yara, who really are doing a lot of work with hydrogen. In the last week or so, I will admit, Mr Morrison suddenly discovered hydrogen. Apparently we are going to have hydrogen hubs all over the place. But, before last week, no. I guess it's pretty hard to sit in the parliament with a lump of hydrogen; it's much easier to sit there with a lump of coal, because that's what your backbenchers want to see. But at least he's moved a little bit on that.

When I talk to business leaders, when I talk to people in mining, they are quite annoyed, because it's those in the government who are holding them back. The government pretend to be there for business. They're there for the big miners. They're there for big business. Yet, with their antiquated, backward, bottom-of-the-world environmental policies, they are holding back business in this country. Business does want to forge ahead, it does want to put electric trucks on the road and it does want to cut its emissions, but where are the incentives from the government? They are not there. And what was in the budget? Very little. If you've got a plan and a vision for this country and where it's going, it certainly wasn't there last night—no vision, no plan for our future; no clean, green technologies advanced; nothing, because that backbench just holds you down, holds you back.

All we're hearing from Mr Morrison now, who apparently is agnostic about where our power comes from, is that there will be a gas led recovery. If he were truly agnostic, you would be looking at every innovation; you'd be holding your head up; you'd be looking to the world leaders about what they're doing on climate and how they're reducing their energy costs. I remember when Prime Minister Abbott said that repealing Labor's price on carbon would save people $550 a year on their electricity bills. When are you going to fess up and say that just wasn't true? We've seen electricity costs spiralling out of control for many consumers. I'm thankful that, in Western Australia, we're not part of the grid mess. It's nearly as bad as the Murray-Darling Basin, the mess you've made of electricity in this country. But that's what the Prime Minister said—that people would be $550 a year better off. What a nonsense. It's simply not true, like the $100 leg of lamb, like the towns that were going to disappear off the map, according to the climate sceptics opposite. I mean, come on! It is time that someone on your front bench, one of your ministers, actually stood up to that handful of climate deniers and said, 'We are not going to allow you any longer to hold Australia back.'

There is a whole clean energy future out there that I certainly want for my grandchildren. It's a little like marriage equality. It was young people who led that debate, because they were sick and tired of older Australians saying to them, 'It's never going to happen.' I can tell you that my granddaughter, Charlee, who is 17, and my grandson, who is 22, can't believe the sort of rhetoric that you come out with. They're ordinary, average kids, but they are concerned about their future, the future that you are denying them because of your clinging to old-fashioned, outdated ideas because a handful of your backbenchers won't move. It is the young people in Australia who are more and more questioning what on earth you are doing, because it's their future that you're denying; it's their future you're holding back. They want a clean, green future, and, just like with marriage equality, they just don't know where you are heading with this, and they don't agree with you.

5:03 pm

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I was reflecting on the fact that it was actually nine years ago this week that I got preselected to replace Dr Bob Brown in this place. I came into parliament as a young senator who had been a campaigner on marine conservation, who had been a campaigner on climate change. I taught the economics of tackling climate change at the university. This is something I thought deeply about. But I was reflecting on the fact that, if you had told me then what I know now, what I have seen in the last nine years, the changes to this planet, to our oceans, to our coastlines, to our country—which I have observed and which have been put into the scientific literature—I wouldn't have believed it. I simply couldn't have fathomed the magnitude of how much things have tipped in our climate in the last nine years. At James Cook University this week some of the most respected coral scientists in the world collaborated and said that we've got the briefest of windows to take radical action on climate change, or by 2050, they estimate, 94 per cent of the world's coral reefs will be disappearing. In the last five years alone, we've lost half the coral cover on the world's single biggest organism, the Great Barrier Reef. Scientists didn't predict it was possible to even have back-to-back bleachings, mass coral bleachings, until 2050, but we've had three in the last five years and six in the last 20 years. They didn't happen until 1998. There were none recorded in history until 1998. My home state of Tasmania—and your home state, Acting Deputy President—has recorded the biggest marine heat wave in human history off our coastlines. We've lost our giant kelp forests.

I'm getting sick and tired of talking about it in this place, trying to bring it to the attention of the people opposite the chamber and those out there that deny the changes to our climate. It's not just a Greens problem or an environmental problem; it is an economic problem as much as anything else. First and foremost, it is a political problem because it is a political failure that has allowed this to happen. On my car ride in this morning I saw the Extinction Rebellion protesting out the front here with a truck. They had a sign saying, 'If we do nothing, we risk everything.' I can say 100 per cent, with no doubt in my heart, that we do risk everything in our oceans if we don't act now. We risk everything. We risk our fisheries. We risk our coastal communities. We will be bringing up kids who will not see what we have seen while we've been alive. Funnily enough, after I was pre-selected, I wanted to have a holiday before I started in the Senate. I took my kids snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef in 2012. It's unrecognisable now. We don't understand the impacts it's having on our ecosystems. That reef system is connected to the forests and it's connected to the climate and the weather in those areas. Everything is interconnected and it is changing so rapidly.

David Attenborough, reflecting on his life on this planet and how we tackle the climate emergency, made the comment, 'We cannot be radical enough.' Was there any radical action in this budget? No. Was there any action on climate change in this budget? In the face of this mounting evidence, was there any action at all? Not a thing, except more money for fossil fuel companies, more money for oil and gas projects, more money for coal-fired power stations, more subsidies for big polluters. It's got to stop. We have to change and we have to act. I'm getting fed up with this, and I know so many Australians are getting fed up with this. Where is the action? This is the biggest challenge we face as a nation and as a planet, and there is nothing in this budget at all to tackle it. Nothing. Why? We have to act. If my party and my colleagues are the only ones in this place that continue to bang the drum, well, so be it. We are not going away. There is a federal election, and we will deal with it then.

5:08 pm

Photo of Gerard RennickGerard Rennick (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The great Franklin Roosevelt once said that there's nothing to fear but fear itself, so it's good to speak to this urgency motion. For the record, I don't support any subsidies at all to any type of energy. Twenty years ago we were fed the neoliberal line that if you privatise the energy market, the market would fix itself. I can assure you that the market hasn't fixed itself, despite governments basically shovelling subsidies into all sorts of energy. We've heard a lot about the fossil fuel subsidies, which I don't think are all that high at all. I'll go into the renewable subsidies: there's $10 billion for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation; $5 billion for the Snowy Hydro, which purely exists so we can have a big battery for solar and wind; $3½ billion for the Climate Solutions Package; $2½ billion for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency; and another $1½ billion for the Grid Reliability Fund which got pulled and is now used for gas and things like that. Long story short: at just the federal level there's $20 billion in subsidies for renewable energy.

Then we've got the state subsidies, whereby we have the ridiculous proposition that the Queensland state government, for example, is paying foreign renewable providers for their energy, undermining our own home-grown coal, which is basically free and owned by the Queensland people. Kogan Creek Power Station actually sits on the coal mine, and coal gets funnelled straight up the conveyor belt, and it's all free because it's owned by the Queensland people. That used to generate about $1 billion to $2 billion in profits for the state government every year, and now last year it lost a billion dollars because it kept getting turned on and off. So there are lots of things I think that we should address. I think we've got 10 energy agencies just at the federal level. The whole energy market is completely ruined, and there needs to be a discussion about whether or not we nationalise all the base energy and start again, because it's out of control.

I just want to jump onto this other point here: there is no climate collapse. There is no climate science. The field of science that we are dealing with is called thermodynamics and it's existed for about 200 years. The first theories were created by a brilliant young French engineer, Nicholas Leonard Carnot, who came up with, believe it or not, the second law of thermodynamics, which is that the entropy of a system always increases. Unfortunately he died at an early age from cholera, so we don't have his papers. But we move on to the English scientists who took up his work, who were of course James Joule and William Thomson, who later became Lord Kelvin and who was the first scientist appointed to the British House of Lords. They came up with the first law of thermodynamics, which is that energy is neither created nor destroyed; it's just transformed or transferred.

These laws matter. Heat is basically transferred in three forms: it's either radiation, which is what we're dealing with when we talk about climate science; convection; or conduction. I want to talk about conduction first, because conduction is the main form of heat transfer in the atmosphere. Effectively, the rule that applies to that is the second law of thermodynamics, and I'll explain it to you. If we have half a glass of water at 10 degrees Celsius and half a glass of water at 20 degrees and we pour one into the other, we know, if there's no heat loss, it will average out at 15 degrees Celsius. What I want you to do is to turn those cups upside down or on their side, and effectively that's the way the atmosphere works. The atmosphere is basically one big pressure gradient driven by temperature differentials. The greater the temperature differential, the faster the convection will be.

We see convection in many forms. We see it in the wind. The other major form of convection is what's known as evaporative cooling, and that's where we have a change in temperature from a phase change—for example, the heat will hit an ocean, and the water will evaporate and go up as water vapour. When it gets to a point in the atmosphere where it cools and gets to its condensation point, it will then condense again and fall to the ocean. That's effectively a cooling process, hence why it's called evaporative cooling. It doesn't just happen in the ocean. If you exercise, for example, you might sweat. That's also known as evaporative cooling, and that is the major form of heat transfer on planet Earth. We get most of that around the equator, where there are these massive convection cells where the heat rises.

It has to be said that carbon dioxide does increase radiation in the atmosphere. No-one is denying that. But what's very important is to actually quantify that amount of heat, the direction of the heat and how that process works. In order to understand that you need to go back to other laws of physics. The first one is obviously E equals MC squared, whereby 600 million tonnes of hydrogen are burnt a second and converted into 596 million tonnes of helium and four million tonnes of energy. Some of that four million tonnes of energy comes to planet Earth here in the form of a photon. If the photon was created in the inside part of the sun, it will have low energy and come here as infrared radiation. If it was created at the edge of the sun, it will come here as ultraviolet radiation, and ultraviolet radiation has a lot of energy, and that's why it causes skin cancer. It can hit a molecule and knock an electron straight out of its orbit, and that will ionise the atom, which is when it becomes oxidative and starts causing cancer and things like that.

What's important to understand with carbon dioxide in terms of radiation is that it has four vibrational frequencies. The first frequency is found at 2.8 microns, and that refracts incoming infrared radiation, so that's not actually adding to the heat at all in the atmosphere. The second vibrational frequency is at 4.3 microns, and that particular frequency has no dipole moment. That means it's not electromagnetic, and so it neither absorbs or emits. Then we get to the two degenerate modes at 14.8 microns. This is where, basically, carbon dioxide absorbs and emits heat. One of the big myths we hear in climate science is that carbon dioxide traps heat. That is an oxymoron. Heat is kinetic energy, the energy of motion, so every person, every molecule, on this earth will basically absorb and radiate heat. If we were to turn the lights off in the chamber now and put an infrared light on you, we'd all be glowing red.

What's interesting with the 14.8 micron is that we need to use Wien's law of displacement to determine at what temperature that will radiate. Long story short, the formula for that is 2,888 over the frequency of the vibration, which is about 15. So it will radiate at 192 degrees kelvin, which, if you convert back into degrees Celsius, is negative 80 degrees Celsius. So carbon dioxide does emit heat at about negative 80 degrees, so you've got to go somewhere up about 10 or 15 kilometres in the atmosphere to get carbon dioxide to actually refract heat.

The amount of heat that will increase as a result of increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is very marginal, because let's not forget that, while you might have 430 parts per million of carbon dioxide, it's not the biggest greenhouse gas absorber in the planet. The biggest greenhouse gas absorber in the planet just happens to be this thing we call H2O, which is water or water vapour. That, at about 75 degrees humidity and 25 degrees Celsius is about 15,000 parts per million. So, if we add another part per million, the increase in heat is what's described as a negative logarithmic scale. For example, if I had 10 patty cakes and I got another cake, it'd increase by 10 per cent. If I had 100 patty cakes and I got another patty cake, it'd increase by one per cent. So gradually the rate of change—and those of you who understand your calculus will know what I'm talking about—diminishes. So the whole thing about radiative heat is overblown, because most of the heat transferred throughout the atmosphere is through convection and, if it isn't through convection it will be through conduction. That is where if one molecule absorbs a photon, it heats up, bangs into another molecule and passes energy to that other molecule. Now, we'll apply the first law of thermodynamics there, so basically the energy gained by one molecule will be lost by the other molecule—you cannot increase the overall energy in the system.

So, long story short, there is nothing to worry about at all. We're not going to have a climate collapse any time soon. The first time you would expect to see a climate collapse is in about three billion years time, when the sun starts to burn out. It'll start to blow up into a big red blob, and it will gradually come out. It'll consume Venus and then Mars and then planet Earth. But you haven't got to worry about that, because life on earth will probably come to an end in about a billion years time, when all the hydrogen is slowly evaporated out of the earth and water will cease to exist. And, as you all know, when water ceases to exist, it's kaput for all of us.

5:18 pm

Photo of Lidia ThorpeLidia Thorpe (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I must say, Senator Rennick, that was some speech you gave there of exactly what we're dealing with in this country, and that's climate deniers.

Senator Rennick interjecting

I'll get on with my speech, and I do rise to speak on this matter of absolute public urgency today, because this place cannot ignore the climate collapse and destruction of country that is happening now on this climate-denying government. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have lived sustainably on this land forever—not 200 years, not 250 years, forever, Senator Stoker. We have songlines across this country that connect us to each other, to our culture, water and sky. We are the caretakers of these lands. Protection of country is at the very core of our culture and connection to the land and sea. Our people are not from country; we are country. The First Nations people of this country have always understood a fundamental thing that this government simply doesn't understand.

Our people understand that when it comes to protection of country, everything is connected—everything. Our relationship to lands, waters and sky is inseparable from our understanding of what it means to be a First Nation person. Our people have sustainably cared for these lands and waters for thousands and thousands of generations. We did this by learning from our elders and passing down our knowledge. Our people aren't consumers; we're custodians. We didn't treat the land like something to own, we didn't mine our country and we didn't frack our country. Generations of our people would take care of country and community. They weren't driven by selfish values of wealth and power. That's what the colonisers brought here to this very place. It's all about power and money and greed. While these colonisers have been here for a tiny fraction of time, our people have been on these lands for thousands of generations, and we're faced with the biggest challenge we will ever face—that is, the climate crisis.

In last night's budget we found out that the government will be handing over $1.1 billion of taxpayers' money to burn the planet even more, to give money to the oil and gas and coal industries, to dirty coal, oil and gas barons that are responsible for the destruction of our climate and our country. This government will do whatever their big corporate mates and the mining lobby ask them to do. That's because the reality is the Liberal Party, the National Party and the Labor Party take dirty donations from developers and mining companies and big corporations. This party does not do that, because we have integrity and we make decisions that are based on protecting and connecting with our country and our communities.

Last week I was in Borroloola at the McArthur mine. That's where I saw with my own eyes what the desecration of country for grubby, easy profit is doing to our lands and our local communities. These resources are pulled up out of the ground by the big mining corporation—Glencore in this case, one of the dirtiest ones going—who have absolutely no respect for traditional owners. Big miners across this country divert and suck up water. They mine our lands for coal, for gas. Then our climate gets drier, hotter and more extreme. Our lands suffer, our waters are poisoned and they dry up—so much pain for so little gain.

Right now we are at a turning point in this country. Colonisers came. They've done so much destruction, extraction and damage to our people, the first people of these lands, in only just over 200 years. That's what they've been able to do. The decisions we make in this place today will have impacts for every single generation to come—every single child, their children, their grandchildren. The decisions made here today will impact their lives and their livelihoods. But I'm not sure whether the government actually thinks that far forward; t's about what they can take now—look after their mates now, stay in power now, forget about future generations.

The good news is the solution to the climate crisis is here. It always has been. First Nations people have solutions to heal this country. We can't even get a seat at the table, and we all know what that looks like. We, the original sovereign people of these lands, have known it all along. When we care for and protect country, country cares for and protects us. We must protect all the living beings belonging to these lands and waters because we share this country with them too. It's not just an animal or a plant or a tree; we are connected spiritually and physically to these living beings.

We can grow our renewable, sustainable energy, clean energy, from the wind and the sun; we've got plenty of that. We can protect our ancient, precious cultural heritage, instead of desecrating it for a quick buck. We can enjoy our lives in harmony with our planet and with plenty of energy if we get our energy from clean sources, if only this out-of-touch climate-denying government would get out of the way. We're running out of time. Climate deniers need to face the facts. They need to get with the program and they need to understand why we're having extreme weather events, before it's too late. I know that you have your climate-denying scientists that will back whatever climate-denying words you want to use, but the reality is you are putting your children's children in extreme danger. Maybe you should think about that for a moment and think about what that means for your family, but also think about the economic impacts that this is going to have on this nation; start thinking in the way that you think about looking after yourself or making a quick buck, because climate action will help you do that.

5:26 pm

Photo of Malcolm RobertsMalcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia, I'll discuss collapses already underway, and none of them involves a climate collapse—firstly, the economic collapse. In the name of unsubstantiated climate alarm, the Howard-Anderson Liberal-Nationals government, starting in 1996, colluded with the states to deceitfully bypass the Constitution to steal farmers' property rights to comply with the UN's Kyoto protocol. It concocted Australia's first major party emissions trading scheme, a carbon dioxide tax to comply with UN dictates. It introduced the Renewable Energy Target, which has grown to now cost Australians an additional $13 billion each year, every year in their electricity costs, again to comply with UN dictates. In the name of climate, our electricity prices have risen artificially from the world's lowest to now be the world's highest. Manufacturing has collapsed. We no longer make cars; we make fewer household appliances; and we make no manufacturing tools, which are crucial for our security. Agriculture is being hammered. The Liberal-National energy minister, Angus Taylor, openly states he has fears for electricity prices, reliability and grid stability. Under this budget's dreamy forecast, bets on hydrogen and continued subsidisation of expensive unreliables like wind and solar, we're enduring a manufacturing collapse and we face economic collapse.

The second collapse is the collapse of science. Here are some facts. Firstly, on Monday 26 September 2016 the CSIRO confirmed that it has never stated that carbon dioxide from human activity is a danger and said it never will. So why do the Greens push policies for economic collapse? Why have Liberal-National and Labor governments enacted policies over 2½ decades for economic collapse? Secondly, on Wednesday 10 May 2017, in this building, the CSIRO admitted that today's temperatures are not unprecedented. That means we didn't cause the current mild cyclical warming that ended around 1995. So why did the Greens push policies for economic collapse? Why have Liberal-National and Labor governments for 2½ decades driven economic collapse? According to NASA satellites, global atmospheric temperatures have been essentially flat with no warming for more than a quarter of a century. Despite China, despite India, despite America, despite Europe and despite Russia producing record quantities of carbon dioxide, higher human production of carbon dioxide has not increased temperatures. So why do the Greens push policies for economic collapse? Why have Liberal-National and Labor governments driven for the last 2½ decades economic collapse?

Following the global financial crisis, most nations were in recession during 2009. In 2020, as a result of government COVID restrictions around the world, nations were again in recession. In both recession years, the use of hydrocarbon fuels fell and human carbon dioxide production fell, yet in both recession years atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continued increasing. Nature alone controls the carbon dioxide levels, so why do the Greens push policies for economic collapse? Why have Liberal, Nationals and Labor governments driven economic collapse for the last 2½ decades? The Bureau of Meteorology data on cyclones in Australia show no trend in cyclone frequency, severity or duration. There's no climate catastrophe. The most severe drought in the last 120 years was the 1920s to 1940s drought. The next worst was the Federation drought in 1901. There is no climate catastrophe. Floods, bushfires, snowfall and every other climate factor show no change, just natural cyclical variation. There is no climate catastrophe. It's been 601 days since my latest challenge to the Greens to present the data on which they base this nonsense and to debate me on the climate science and the corruption of climate science.

Finally, there's no unprecedented global warming. There's no climate change. There's no climate catastrophe. There's no climate collapse; instead, we have a collapse of science. The collapse of science led to an energy collapse that caused an economic collapse. Welcome to the Greens nightmare that is now the Liberals, Nationals and Labor nightmare. This is what happens when data is ignored and, instead, governance is based on unfounded opinions, personal and party political agendas, cronies, headlines, fear, emotions, UN policies, party donations and serving vested interests. And who pays for this atrocious governance and for these climate lies? We the people pay. (Time expired)

5:31 pm

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

The climate crisis, and we are in a climate crisis, sits alongside the continued existence of nuclear weapons on our planet as the two greatest threats to the peace and wellbeing of our human community. This is the reality of the moment in which we live. This is the reality of 2021. For the nations, particularly for the island nations, of our Asia-Pacific region, climate change is not a far-off abstract; it is a present reality, as it is for the fire-ravaged communities of Australia, as it is for the farmers, as it is for all those whose lives and livelihood depend on the land. It is something observed by people who in their lifetimes have seen changes in their environment around them, in their communities, and it is something that is observed by those who can trace their connection to country back hundreds of generations.

This federal budget presented another opportunity for action—action to create a sustainable, safe and inclusive future for everyone, action to create safe sustainable jobs, and action to support those currently working in fossil fuel industries to transition to new renewable clean industries. These were all of the potential opportunities on the table which the Morrison government could have taken. Yet what this budget has revealed is a government interested in only one thing—serving its corporate donors, who yesterday filled this place like lice scurrying about trying to find and identify just exactly what they got for all those donations and all those dinners, going through the budget line by line, identifying exactly what they got for their time. It was revolting. A whole bunch of them were grinning with the additional $1 billion the government has decided to give to the fossil fuel industry every single bloody year over the next four years.

You know what? I've had so many of these debates in this place over the last four years, where the Greens have contributed science and evidence. This movement has spent decades—the community has spent decades—putting forward detailed plans stepping out exactly how we do this and all of the reasons why. Young people have driven ourselves into the ground trying to get the attention of the major parties and trying to get them to act. We have struck, we have disrupted and we have given our time. Young people so often make the journey to Canberra or to their state parliament and make the case for their own future. The reality is—and I am reminded of it by nights like last night—that the problem isn't that you people don't know that climate change is a thing; the problem is that you don't care. You don't give a damn. You'd rather go to a dinner with a miner or the pokie industry or a gas merchant or the owner of Harvey Norman than take action on climate change and safeguard our future. That disgraceful disregard is exactly why the young people of this country, come the next election, will vote you out of office, and good riddance to the lot of you.

Photo of James McGrathJames McGrath (Queensland, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The time for the discussion has expired. The question is that the motion moved by Senator Thorpe be agreed to.