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Wednesday, 16 March 2016
Page: 2189


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (18:47): We have a government now which is actually seriously doing something about carbon emissions. Unlike many other nations around the world—including, I might say with some regret, the United States—the Australian government and the Australian people are actually meeting their targets. And we did this under the old Kyoto accords. Australia was one of the few nations in the world that actually met their emissions reduction target.

We are playing our part in reducing global emissions. Our reductions in emissions per person and per dollar of GDP will be amongst the highest in the world, and I would have thought that the Greens political party and the Labor Party would actually be congratulating us for that. Under the new regime of Malcolm Turnbull and, previously, Tony Abbott, Australia is achieving a 52 per cent reduction in emissions per person. That is the second-highest of the G20 countries. We are also achieving a 65 per cent reduction in emissions per unit of GDP.

Madam Acting Deputy President, you may be aware that Professor Warwick McKibbin, a respected economist from the ANU, has estimated that the cost of Labor's proposal would be something like $200 per tonne. Even when Labor was going to buy credits from the rest of the world the cost was originally only $20. Then it was $22, then $27 and then $45. Now, a few years later, Labor's proposal will, according to respected economists, be $200 per tonne.

We are conducting auctions to buy back emissions reductions, and we have secured 275 projects—importantly, can I emphasise—at an average price of $13.12 per tonne compared with Labor's $200 per tonne. So successful has the coalition's buyback scheme been that in fact the World Bank has adopted it and has recently launched a $100 million reverse auction that replicates most of the features of the coalition's Emissions Reduction Fund.

I often make the point in this chamber that any serious environmental work ever done by a federal government in Australia has been done by the governments of the Liberal and National parties. Contrast that with the Labor Party. You will recall, Madam Acting Deputy President—if you like having nightmares, you will think back!—how they presided over, and how the then environment minister, who turned out to be the worst environment minister in Australia, surpassed only by her title as the worst finance minister in Australia, presided over, putting all the eggs in the Copenhagen basket. And Copenhagen was an absolute, complete and unabated flop. There was complete rejection of any serious addressing of the concern that is confronting the world.

I asked my Greens friends earlier on today, 'Tell me how Australia, which emits less than 1.4 per cent of all emissions of carbon, can be the cause for all the ills that you tell us are happening to the world by carbon emissions?' Of course, it is a patently ridiculous argument that no-one will ever answer because the facts are so simple: Australia emits less than 1.4 per cent. Even if you shut Australia down completely—no lights in this building, no cars running on our streets—what would 1.4 per cent of the reduction in the world's carbon emissions do for the climate that is changing?

But I come back to the coalition's record. With the coalition you know that they will do sensible things about the environment. I am delighted to see that Senator Waters is here in the chamber, because I have often said to her that any serious attempt or action on the marine environment has been the work of Liberal governments. I was delighted yesterday to attend a function put on by—and you might be surprised that I was there—the Marine Conservation Society and WWF. Do you know what they launched there? A booklet entitled The big blue legacy: the Liberal National tradition of marine conservation. It is a great book, Senator Waters. I have actually got you a copy. You can read the centre page, which I often talk about in this chamber. Sometimes people do not believe me when I talk about these, but I am sure those sorts of people would believe the Marine Conservation Society and WWF. They have it there starting in 1975, as I always do, with the Fraser government prohibition on oil and gas drilling in the Great Barrier Reef. It goes right through the Fraser government, the Howard government, the Greiner government in New South Wales and the Barnett government in Western Australia. There it is, a record. Do not believe me—I say this all the time. Have a look what the people involved in marine conservation actually say about the record of Liberal and National Party governments.

As with our marine approach to the environment, so with our climate change approach: we are implementing programs that work and do not cost Australians their livelihood and their economy. This matter before the chair is a patently ridiculous one which has no substance and will no doubt be ignored by the Senate as it is by the rest of Australia.