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Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Page: 2092


Senator FERGUSON (2:48 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water, Senator Wong. Does the minister endorse the decision of her party in South Australia to preference the independent climate sceptics ahead of candidates committed to saving the Royal Adelaide Hospital?


The PRESIDENT —Senator Wong, you need to answer those parts of the question that refer to your portfolio.


Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water) —I thank Senator Ferguson for the question, because if he wants to talk about who is preferencing whom perhaps he would like to come clean on what relationship the Liberal Party has with the other party he mentioned. Perhaps he would like to come clean on what relationship the Liberal Party has with some of the parties preferencing the Labor Party in the Legislative Council. I can tell you where the climate sceptics—people who deny the science and deny the risks that climate change poses to this country—are: they are on that side of the chamber. They are Senator Bernardi, Senator McGauran and, most of all, Senator Minchin. Let us remember that these are people who tore their own party apart and tore down a leader rather than take action on climate change. So, if Senator Ferguson wants to come in here to talk to us about another party in South Australia and climate scepticism, I suggest that he have a look in his own party room, because the Australian people are very clear which of the parties of government is serious about climate change and which is the party that has extreme views. Senator Minchin, from South Australia—

Honourable senators interjecting—


The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Wong, just hold on for a moment. The time to debate it is at the end of question time.


Senator WONG —Senator Minchin seriously asserted on national television that climate change is some left-wing conspiracy to de-industrialise the Western world. If it were not so loony, it would be funny. If it were not from a man who aspires to become a senior minister in a government, it would be funny. But it in fact demonstrates just how extreme some of the views of the South Australian Liberal Party are.

Honourable senators interjecting—


The PRESIDENT —Order! I am waiting for Senator Ferguson to have the opportunity to ask the question.


Senator FERGUSON —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. On the assumption that the Labor Premier, Mike Rann, as Minister for Sustainability and Climate Change also supports the independent climate change sceptics, is climate change or health the government’s No. 1 priority?


The PRESIDENT —Again, Senator Wong, you need to answer those parts of the question that go to your portfolio.


Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water) —I think that was actually a question for Mike Rann. I am a little confused. If Senator Ferguson is asking me which of the two is the state government’s election policy priority, I will say this to you: it is quite clear what the Rann government has done for South Australia: it has brought additional jobs and additional economic activity. It has a plan for the future, as opposed to a Liberal Party team which is demonstrably divided. This week, Ms Chapman, who I think is a mentor of one at least of those opposite, was not even prepared to back her leader in the week prior to the election. So South Australians do have a very clear choice, Senator. They have a very clear choice between a government that has delivered for the state—it has delivered jobs, delivered defence projects and delivered economic activity that is going forward— (Time expired)


Senator FERGUSON —Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. How does preferencing the independent climate sceptics ahead of Save the Royal Adelaide Hospital support this government’s belief that climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time?


Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water) —Is Senator Ferguson, with a straight face, really suggesting that those on that side have any credentials when it comes to who questions climate science? We are clear on what the consensus science is. You have a bunch of people with extreme views over there who will never countenance action on climate change. We are clear about our views—

Honourable senators interjecting—


The PRESIDENT —Order! The time to debate the question is at the end of question time. I remind senators of that.


Senator WONG —What is interesting is that clearly the moderates in the Liberal Party have no say on the tactics committee, because they are quite happy now to let Senator Abetz and others run a whole heap of questions, including in relation to state elections. The reality is that those opposite have many amongst them who will do and say anything to avoid taking action on climate change. They think it is some left-wing conspiracy. (Time expired)