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Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Page: 7742


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (13:45): Having listened to some of the contributions from the coalition in this debate on taking this country forward, I wonder what it would be like under the type of scientific nonsense that they are pushing. They are anti-scientific; they just do not believe in the science. We have heard the arguments that climate change is not really happening from those opposite—'What is this issue about carbon dioxide?'—and I would invite any of the coalition senators to talk to the CSIRO, to the Australian Academy of Science and to our own eminent scientists within Australia who understand the issue, and not to listen to the nonsense and rhetorical flourishes that we hear from the likes of Senator Bernardi in his attempt to discredit the scientists of this country and scientists overseas.

I have said on a number of occasions that even the Pope is concerned about the issue of global warming. I am not normally one to be quoting the Pope in the Senate, but his Pontifical Academy of Sciences has said there is a real problem out there. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences says the icebergs are falling into the sea and the sea level is rising, and if we do not do something about it we are in for really big problems. Yet all we get from the coalition is the nonsense that this is the view of extremists. I do not know what has happened to the Catholic Church, but I am not sure that you could argue the Pope is an extremist in relation to climate change.

Another 'extremist' out there is David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the UK. He is no relation of mine; he must be from the 'black' Camerons if he is a Conservative. David Cameron has personally congratulated the Prime Minister on her carbon tax policy. He sent a letter from 10 Downing Street to say that the Australian government's move on climate change was bold and ambitious. He said the government was dealing with one of the most pressing threats to our nations' prosperity and security. That is what a Conservative Prime Minister who seems to care about the environment says. But in Senator Bernardi's view he would be another extremist. All these extremists—like Margaret Thatcher, John Howard and Peter Shergold—are out there saying there is a problem. You would not say that they were leading the left-wing charge anywhere in the world, but there we go; these are thrown in as extremists by Senator Bernardi. If they are extremists, I have not seen one yet.

There is yet another supposed extremist: Malcolm Turnbull. And what does the former Leader of the Opposition say in terms of the opposition's policy? The opposition have a policy called 'direct action'. It really is just an excuse to do nothing, it is the 'do nothing' policy. It is saying, 'We will pay the polluters to stop polluting, and every family in Australia will pay $1,300 to pay for us to look after the polluters in this economy.' And what does Malcolm Turnbull say about that? He says, 'It is what it is.' That is how he describes the policy—it is what it is. It is a policy where, yes, the government picks winners. There is no doubt about that. It is a policy where the government spends taxpay­ers' money to pay for investments to offset the emissions from industry.

There are two virtues of that from the points of view of Mr Abbott and Mr Hunt. One is that it can be easily terminated. It is the coalition's con job on the climate. That is what this is: it is a coalition con job. They never mean to do anything. They say: 'Yes, we will set similar targets to the Labor government. We will set targets and try to reduce pollution, but we will set up this scheme that will do nothing. We will set up a scheme that we can just get rid of easily.' That is the position of the coalition. The hypocrisy just oozes out of the coalition every time they get on their feet. They know the best way to deal with carbon pollution in this country is to let the market deal with it, not to try to pick winners, or to try to have the government and ordinary taxpayers pay polluters to reduce carbon pollution. Putting a market price on it is the proven way to do it. Yet all of those on the other side, who have been lecturing me about how the market should operate even though I was a union official, run away from it.

We have people like Senator Bernardi who is continually running the line that has been run by the extremists. He is an extremist on carbon pollution. He does not think there is a problem, and that is a problem for my grandkids. I have two beautiful grandkids, Amy and Scott, and I want them to have a decent life in the future. One of the most important things you can do to give your grandkids a decent life in the future is to make sure they have an environment that they can live in. We need to give them an environment where they can bring up their families in the future in the same way we have done, where they are not worried about rising sea levels, global warming or mosquito borne diseases because the temperatures are increasing. We on this side want them to have a decent life in the future, and that is what this package of bills is about. It is about Australia playing its part in a global attempt to reduce the temperature of the world so that we can have a decent environment in the future. Mr Acting Deputy President, look at some of the speeches that have been made. I will not say much about Senator Joyce's speech. I got the Hansard and had a look at it. I tried to make some sense of Senator Joyce's speech in the Hansard. It was almost incomprehensible. For someone who thinks he might one day be the Deputy Prime Minister of this country to go on with the garbage that Senator Joyce spewed out in here on climate change is an absolute disaster for this country. It was incomprehensible, unintelligible and just plain dumb—absolutely dumb.

Then we had Senator Abetz. Senator Abetz led the debate off for the coalition. He did not say much that we have not heard him say before. We know that he is a climate change denier. We know that he is not in touch with the scientific reality of where we are.

The one that I liked was the speech by Senator Back. Senator Back made a fantastic contribution. He actually channelled Alan Jones. He was in here with all the questions about percentages of carbon dioxide in the air: it is less than 0.04 of one per cent; it is one twenty-seventh of one per cent; it is only one molecule in 90,000 molecules in the air—all absolute garbage, absolute nonsense. He really does need to get some re-education from the scientists of the Australian Academy of Science, the Bureau of Meteorology or the CSIRO, because this stuff was just so much nonsense.

What they do not say is: 'We don't really understand this. We've listened to Alan Jones and we've just come into the Senate to regurgitate Alan Jones.' Let me tell you what he also said:

Governments of all persuasions cannot pick winners. If they are good enough to survive in the commercial world, they do not need a subsidy. If they need a subsidy, it is because they cannot survive. Examples can be given of companies that have failed to the tune of $400 million and $500 million simply because they had the wrong economic model. Who on the Labor government side is going to pick these winners? Who is going to spend the taxpayers' money to try to pick winners which industry, business and commerce nationally and internationally cannot?

Senator Back, nobody is picking the winners on this side. We are saying the market will reduce the costs. Senator Back, in going out into that little area, demonstrated that this 'strong voice', this false 'look at me; I really know what I'm talking about' is just so much garbage. What did Senator Back really do? Senator Back, in that paragraph of his speech, actually destroyed 'direct action', because direct action is about picking winners. Senator Back actually destroyed the coalition policy. He obviously does not know what the coalition policy is, because he came out and hammered exactly what the coalition policy is: using government funds to pick winners. That is exactly what direct action is, Senator Back. I would ask you to go back and have a look at what you said, and then tomorrow you will need to go and say to your leader: 'I'm sorry, I've blown your cover. What I said in the Senate destroys direct action. I've just exposed to everybody that direct action is an absolute farce. It won't work because we are picking winners and we are using public money to pick those winners.' That is the very thing that Senator Back says we should not be doing.

So what do we know today from those across the floor? Those on the other side do not believe in the science. They are anti-scientific. They attack scientists—they will attack the CSIRO; they will attack the Academy of Science—because they are backward in their thinking. And they are short-term in their thinking. They do not care about the future of this country and they do not care about the children and future generations in this country. All they want to do is run a fear campaign based on falsities and nonsense.

We have Senator Sinodonos here. Welcome. Now you can tell them exactly what John Howard said about climate change. You know John Howard said climate change is real. You know John Howard said we had to do something about it. You know John Howard said we cannot wait for everybody else; we have to do it now. Well, Senator Sinodonos, get up and tell us here what you advised John Howard to do. We know what you did—you advised him to deal with climate change. Now advise the lunatics on your own side to do the same thing.

Senator Colbeck: On a point of order, Mr President: it might be nice if Senator Cameron were to learn Senator Sinodinos's correct name. Whatever accent he is using, it might be nice if Senator Cameron were to address the senator by his correct name.

The PRESIDENT: Senators are entitled to be correctly addressed in this place.

Senator CAMERON: I apologise, Senator Sinodinos, but that does not move me one bit. You must do exactly what you advised John Howard to do. You must, in my view, stand up and educate the coalition on climate science and on decent economics. That is the task you have got, because they are an absolute—

Debate interrupted.