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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 822


Senator ROBERTS (Queensland) (16:53): As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia I am relishing the debate on this matter of public importance on renewable energy. We have been in the Senate for just three months and already we have changed the tone of this debate. I must acknowledge the contribution by Senator Macdonald at the end of last year, when he said that we have never had a debate on climate in this parliament and that thanks to me we have started that debate. He has shown integrity and honesty in doing so, and now we will continue the debate.

Let me break this down as scientifically and as clearly as I can. Let's have some education for these people. Carbon dioxide is a gas—a colourless, odourless, tasteless trace gas that is essential to all life on this planet. Carbon is a solid. It is a usually black solid, but it is also the solid in a diamond ring. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is colourless, odourless, tasteless. Yet the greens are obsessed with carbon. Hydrogen and carbon atoms make up hydrocarbons. We burn them and the hydrogen combines with the oxygen to form H20—water, which is essential, for life on this planet. The carbon in hydrocarbons combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, essential to all life on this planet. Coal is clean, and we cannot affect the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, because that is determined by the oceans, which contain 50 to 70 times more carbon dioxide than in the entire atmosphere.

Secondly, coal has saved the whales and the forests on this planet, because, as a result of coal and oil, we have been able to industrialise and prosper, and with that comes protection of the environment. But wait: we have reversed 160 years of prosperity and industrial evolution and we are now going backwards with renewable energy and storage. We have wind farms that are bird killers, human hurters—they hurt the hearing—and energy killers. And do you know that the carbon dioxide produced in the construction of a wind farm is greater than the carbon dioxide it saves in its entire life? It is a net producer of carbon dioxide. Solar power is wonderful for powering during the day—but hang on: there is the night-time, so we need double the capacity for storage. Oh, and then there are inefficiencies, so we need triple—and that is why the cost of that is not productive.

But the Liberals and the Nationals—I had a visit to Barnaby Joyce's electorate office in St George when he was a senator, and he told me, looked me in the eye, just two meters from me—the overwhelming majority of the coalition partners are skeptics. And he was sure that all of the Nationals were skeptics—strong skeptics. But no-one says anything. The Liberal-Nationals are like sycophantic leeches who like to tuck their knees under the tables on every failed energy policy until this one, and they have at last seen the light—that renewable energy has hurt us. The energy market has been destroyed by all parties in this Senate due to subsidies, regulations, vested interests and political interference that make it unmanageable—it is completely unmanageable. And Queensland, a state with the best coal in the world, is now facing, as of yesterday, $13,000 per megawatt hour. Yet we have the cheapest, cleanest coal in the world.

Senator Hanson-Young disgraced herself last Friday in a committee by trying to pin the blame on the Australian Energy Market Operator. Senator Xenophon is guilty for destroying his own state. Senator Bernardi has helped destroy his own state by being silent. Hopefully he will start to speak up. Only Senators Leyonhjelm, Lambie and Hinch and Pauline Hanson's One Nation senators are not guilty of destroying jobs and industry, because energy is fundamental to our society and to the future of this planet.

The ultimate misrepresenter is Senator McAllister, because, without having any empirical evidence, she misrepresents the fact that I have presented the empirical evidence. But then the Prime Minister—he has had 10 years of a narrative demonising carbon dioxide, and what have we got? Ten years of policy demonising carbon dioxide and the need to cut its products, and then he switches, overnight, with no change in the narrative, to be like a shag on a rock, a cold, grey bird sitting on a cold, miserable day. Is he about to change the climate policy? That is what we are after next, and we are coming to get you. Everything green on this planet is green because of the carbon dioxide. (Time expired)