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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 2389


Senator CASH (3:11 PM) —It never ceases to amaze me, or those of us on this side of the chamber, how the Labor government does acrobatic stunts like a true circus performer. Labor has consistently criticised the coalition for arguing for a delay in its flawed ETS. It has had the audacity to accuse us of playing politics. We have a Prime Minister who said, ‘The costs of inaction on climate change are actually greater than the costs of action.’ Well, haven’t the chickens now come home to roost? Guess what—yet again the coalition has been right all along. This is now acknowledged by Rudd Labor’s political backflip.


Senator Cormann —They have nowhere else to go.


Senator CASH —Thank you very much, Senator Cormann. That is right. All along, the coalition have been arguing that in the current economic environment, if Labor were to proceed with their flawed ETS, thousands of Australian jobs would be put at risk. Billions of dollars of capital investment in the resources and energy structure would be put at risk due to their reckless approach to the implementation of their ETS. Guess what—yet again we were right. Who is reckless and irresponsible now, Mr Rudd?

The coalition has argued from day one that the government needs to sit up, take responsibility and acknowledge that its proposed ETS is seriously flawed. We have consistently argued that, if the government proceeded with the implementation without having regard for the global financial crisis, this would have severe consequences for all Australians. What do we have now? We have confirmation of the coalition’s good, strong, correct policy. Let me quote the Minister for Climate Change and Water from her media release with the Prime Minister on 4 May:

The Rudd Government will delay the start of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme by one year to help Australian companies manage the impacts of the global recession.

Australian businesses are currently dealing with the worst global recession since the great depression.

In this environment the Government has decided to act to further support jobs and assist businesses during these ... economic times ...

So what do we have? We have a Labor minister effectively adopting the coalition’s sound, long-held policy. My favourite quote from the relevant minister was given very recently in an interview with Adelaide 5AA. She said:

This shouldn’t be about politics. Climate change is too important an issue for people to play political games with. We are focused on doing the right thing, what we think is in the national interest. We are pressing on because this is too important an issue to play politics with.

And then she said:

What we hope is that senators from all parties will approach this issue with that sense of responsibility.

You have got to be kidding me! I stood in this place last November and argued the coalition’s position. We have long warned that rushing towards a 2010 deadline to implement what is a flawed scheme would see unpredictable damage to Australian industry and Australian jobs.

But perhaps the defining moment in this sad tale is when Labor’s handpicked climate policy adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut, gave evidence at a public inquiry into the CPRS and said: ‘Judging whether it would be better to pass the emissions trading scheme as it stands or start again would be a lineball call.’ That is the government’s handpicked adviser saying it is a lineball call. That is the faith that he has in the Labor Party policy. If we are going to have an ETS, its objective must be to encourage reductions in carbon emissions without imposing undue costs on Australians. Bad policy should never be passed. This government needs to go back to the drawing board and start again.