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Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Page: 9144


Senator ADAMS (Western AustraliaDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (15:20): I rise this afternoon to take note of answers given by Minister Wong. Obviously the government is now out of excuses. Overnight we have seen that lack of support has put back any likelihood of an international carbon treaty before 2020. Instead of an agreement this year, we are now looking at eight years down the track for a carbon tax agreement. What this means is that the government's carbon tax modelling is in tatters, as my colleague Senator Brandis has described before me, the compensation is in tatters and the government is simply going to have to redo the modelling, even though they will not accept that there is anything wrong.

It appears there is no plan B in the government's modelling. They have assumed the best of all possible worlds and each day, every day, the reality hits home. The carbon tax is collapsing, the modelling is collapsing and therefore the compensation is collapsing. The government must redo this modelling before parliament rises. The coalition is very strong on the need for us to come back next week to make sure we get the real figures out on compensation. But of course, because of the Durban conference, there is no way the government would even contemplate coming back next week. They do not want to be found out about where they have gone wrong.

Ahead of the critical talks starting next week, most of the world's leading economies now privately admit that no new global climate agreement will be reached before 2016 at the earliest—and, even if it were negotiated by then, they would stipulate that it could not come into force until 2020. So where does it all go?

The UK, the European Union, Japan, the United States and other rich nations are all now united in opting to put off an agreement and the United Nations also appears to be accepting this.

Flaws in the Treasury modelling have been confirmed in articles by Henry Ergas in the Australian, which note that the Treasury is now basing its figures on hope rather than reality. Senator Wong in her answers today really did not help us to say that it was reality, not hope. The purchase of foreign carbon credits, of course, is crucial to the operation of the carbon tax. Australia's domestic emissions will continue to rise and will only be offset by the purchase of $3.5 billion in foreign carbon credits every year by 2020. This figure will blow out to $57 billion by 2050.

President Obama on his visit here reconfirmed that the United States will not have a cap-and-trade or carbon tax style system. He said:

In the United States, although we haven’t passed as you know, what we call a cap and trade system, an exchange, what we have done is for example taken steps to double fuel efficiency standards on cars which will have an enormous impact on removing carbon from the atmosphere.

Senator Brandis interjecting

Senator ADAMS: That is exactly right. Thank you, Senator Brandis. And of course Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird during his recent visit to Australia reiterated that Canada would not have a carbon tax and that it had been explicitly rejected at an election. Does that sound familiar? I think it does—from a Prime Minister who said, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government that I lead.' At least Foreign Minister Baird has stuck with their promise, but unfortunately our Prime Minister has not, so consequently we are going to suffer—and suffer very, very hard. Then you have to look at the fact that Japan, Canada and Russia have said that they will not be in a second commitment period for the Kyoto commit­ment. So I do not know what is going to come from the Durban climate change con­ference, but I would think that it will be just the same result as we had with Copenhagen.

I was quite amused to hear that Crown Prince Frederik was going down to open the new Macarthur wind farm. Denmark have closed down a number of their wind farms. When they run out of power, guess where their baseload power comes from? It comes from Germany and it is nuclear power. Having visited Denmark, I am fully aware of what is going on there, so I think the renewable energy— (Time expired)