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Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Page: 4055


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (17:05): I just find it absolutely hypocritical for Senator Cormann to come in here and complain about Senator Wong in question time when Senator Bernardi stood up and completely misrepresented in such a blatant way what Senator Pratt said in a speech here on Monday, 4 July. Senator Bernardi had the opportunity to apologise to Senator Pratt, because it was quite clear that Senator Marshall completely demolished what was being put. Senator Bernardi should be in here apologising to Senator Pratt for what he said. But it is typical of the coalition to come in here and misquote the reality. They take parts and extracts out from a speech. We can all do that. I have Senator Cormann's first speech in the Senate in front of me now, the speech that he just quoted from.

He quoted the start of the speech. What he did not do was to go on and say how much he supported a national emissions trading scheme in that speech. He said:

The government's recent announcement—

remember, this is the Howard government—

of a national emissions trading scheme, including offsets for trade exposed industries, is a positive and sensible approach to addressing global warming.

He just goes in there, he picks little pieces out without giving the full picture of the backflip that he is involved in at the moment. It is a big backflip on his position at the moment.

And what did Sir Robert Menzies say about behaving like this? He said:

Nothing could be worse for democracy than to adopt the practice of permitting knowledge to be overthrown by ignorance.

Let me tell you, knowledge is being overthrown by ignorance every day of the week in the coalition. You only have to look at the Leader of the Opposition when he stands up and says every economist in the country has got it wrong. He goes on to say that every scientist in the country has got it wrong. What is happening on the other side of this chamber is anti-intellectual. It is all about short-termism, about short-term politics that will not last. It cannot last because they will be exposed for the mis­representations they are putting forward.

When they talk about cost of living, again the hypocrisy from the coalition is huge. The coalition mounted the biggest attack ever on the cost of living of Australian workers when they introduced Work Choices. We know that Work Choices is on the rise again. We know that the Leader of the Opposition's trickery has been exposed by Peter Reith. The opposition leader was exposed for the trickery of promising Peter Reith that he would support him, and then doing a show-and-tell with Peter Reith's opponent and saying: 'I'm voting for you. Even though I asked Peter Reith to stand, I'm not going to be there for Peter Reith.' We saw the sort of trickery that is within the Leader of the Opposition and we know that Peter Reith stood up and belled the cat. He said that Work Choices will come back. That is what is underpinning what Peter Reith is about.

And what about Work Choices? What about AWAs? In 2006 the majority of AWAs—89 per cent—removed basic award conditions; 70 per cent of the AWAs, which were the pride and joy of the Howard government, removed shift loadings; 68 per cent removed annual leave loadings; and 65 per cent removed penalty rates. Those opposite have the hide to come in here and argue that they are concerned about the cost of living for Australian families when they were ripping away shiftwork loadings, ripping away annual leave loadings and ripping away penalty rates. Sixty-three per cent of AWAs removed incentive based payments and bonuses; 61 per cent removed days to be substituted for public holidays; 56 per cent removed monetary allowances; 50 per cent removed public holiday payments; 49 per cent removed overtime loadings; 31 per cent removed rest breaks; and 25 per cent removed public holidays. That is the kind of consideration that the coalition has for the living standards of Australian workers. Get rid of their penalty rates, get rid of their shift loadings, get more industrial relations so-called 'reform' under the banner and say that this is flexibility. That is what happens to workers under coalition flexibility, and workers will soon understand that despite all of the arguments that are being put up by the Leader of the Opposition—that is, that he cares about working families and the forgotten few—he is all about returning to Work Choices. We know that is the position, and we know that is exactly what will happen.

Australia, in my view, does need to deal with global warming. What we are saying is that our position is far superior, and that is backed by every economist of note in this country. In fact, the coalition's direct action policy has been costed by the Treasury to be $30 billion. Who is paying that? It is not the polluters who will pay; it is the taxpayer who has to find $30 billion for this nonsense of a policy that those opposite would put in place. A coalition government would then try to pick winners in the market. There will be no investment certainty for industry. A much-needed economic reform will be ignored and replaced by a stopgap political position. That is all it is, because there are many on the coalition side who know that the market approach is the best way. They understand how the market works, and they understand that the market approach is the best approach.

But the problem is that the extremists, the climate change deniers, are in control. It is the climate change deniers who will certainly be leading the charge for the coalition on this issue. We have a Leader of the Opposition who is one of the few leaders of any political party in the country, or in the world, who would meet with Lord Monckton. It is a bizarre position for someone who tries to say that they are concerned about the future of this country to meet with someone who is described as a bag carrier for Margaret Thatcher, who is described as someone who has absolutely no credibility in the UK. Lord Monkton has claimed he is a member of the House of Lords when he is not, he has claimed to be a Nobel laureate when he is not, he has claimed to have single-handedly won the Falklands War by persuading the British Army to use germ warfare on the Argentines and he has claimed to have invented a cure for Graves' disease, multiple sclerosis, influenza, food poisoning and HIV. That is the sort of people that the leader of the coalition is mixing with. Is there any doubt as to why his views would be so mixed up and so bizarre on these issues? I understand that Senator Cormann attended a conference where Lord Monckton spoke. I am told that he actually stood in the queue to get Lord Monckton's autograph. He stood in the queue to get Lord Monckton's autograph! What a bizarre position for anyone who would try to claim some economic credibility or some credibility on climate change—to be queueing up to get Lord Monckton's autograph. Imagine doing that.

Senator Fifield interjecting

Senator CAMERON: Coalition senators are now interjecting, because it is so embarrassing that you have got a coalition frontbencher queueing up to get Lord Monckton's autograph. That shows you the level of debate and the level of competence in the coalition. It is absolutely nil; it is zero. You have got no credibility at all. (Time expired)