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Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Page: 11307

Mrs VALE (6:53 PM) —I oppose these Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme bills because they are driven by fantasy and deceit. Even the very name of this legislation is a deceit upon the people of Australia. Carbon is not a pollutant. It is a potent fertiliser and up until now a free fertiliser at that. At the outset I say that it is madness and morally reprehensible for the Rudd Labor government, and indeed for the well-fed Western democracies, to take actions that intend to limit, capture and bury a free fertiliser like CO2 and thus deny the billions of undernourished people in the developing world a free 20 to 50 per cent increase in food production as well as increased rainfall in a world that is experiencing water shortages as populations increase.

Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is the building block of the universe. All scientists agree that it occurs naturally. It is invisible, odourless and non-toxic and is emitted by all animal life. It is also necessary for all plant life for photosynthesis. My constituents will often hear the term ‘greenhouse gases’ used synonymously with CO2 and it is presented as a pollutant. They should be alerted to the fact that greenhouse gases make it possible for humans to live upon the earth and that CO2 is but a small component of greenhouse gases. They may be surprised to learn that water vapour and clouds make up 97 per cent of greenhouse gases and CO2 about two per cent, with methane and other gases making up the remaining one per cent.

This means that exhaled breath, fluffy clouds and cow belches are presented as pollutants. Water is the main driver of the greenhouse effect. Of this very small CO2 component of greenhouse gases, human beings contribute about three per cent and soil and vegetation about 53 per cent, with the remaining 44 per cent coming from the oceans. We here in Australia contribute about 1.5 per cent of total global anthropogenic emissions.

This legislation aims to reduce our national emissions by five per cent by 2020 at the cost of great disruption to the Australian economy and the potential to lose tens of thousands of jobs. To give you a picture, Mr Philip Wood of Intec Ltd said that this means that this legislation aims to reduce the world’s greenhouse effect by the equivalent of one footstep in a walk around the equator.

Yet there are now unchallenged scientific findings that tell us that CO2 will not cause future catastrophic climate change. Indeed, with all the resources available to the Rudd government, the government must be aware that, based on recent scientific discoveries, a doubling of CO2 will cause a barely perceptible 0.2 to 0.5 degree temperature increase over a century. The benefits of this for humanity will far outweigh any costs. Yes, that is the extent of it: barely perceptible.

In truth, these bills before us today are really tax bills. They are the most pernicious pieces of legislation that we have had come before us in this parliament, not least because they are based on misinformation, scientifically disproved theories, Orwellian doublespeak and, as evidenced by their title, outright deceit. These bills will not provide any protection for our environment but will serve to vandalise our economy, undermine our system of law and threaten the very fabric of our free society.

There are several issues involved in this legislation, and in the short time allocated to me I need to clarify my position on some of them for the benefit of my constituents. These issues include climate change itself, the degree of the impact of human activity on climate change—which is often referred to as anthropogenic global warming, as propounded by the Garnaut report—the government’s response to that report in presenting this legislation and the likely impact of this legislation upon the lives of the people of Australia.

First, we all understand that the climate of the Earth changes over time. We know that the Earth has had ice ages in its distant past as well as times of thaw and times of warming. It is the rhythm of the Earth. Some of my constituents may have heard of Skara Brae, a Neolithic stone settlement in the Orkney Islands near the north coast of Scotland, which had been covered by grassy dunes for thousands of years. It was revealed in 1850 after a major storm and extremely high tides. Archaeologists found that the Neolithic people who settled Skara Brae had lived there for over 600 years. But as the weather patterns changed the people abandoned their village. It had become progressively wetter and colder and fish could no longer be found in the increasingly colder ocean currents: climate change.

From the evidence found of human occupation on the planet, we know that human beings prove to be the highly resistant survivors, being able to readily adapt to the circumstances of their environment. Scientific observation proves that advances and retreats in Greenland glaciers and the Arctic ice are cyclical and entirely natural. They provide us with another example of Earth’s climate rhythms. During the mediaeval warming period, which started around 1,000 AD, global temperatures were around two degrees higher than they are today. Viking seafarers following the Pole Star across the western Atlantic discovered Greenland and called it green because it was green. However, around 1,400 AD, as the Little Ice Age enveloped the world, the Vikings were forced to abandon Greenland. The Little Ice Age ended only a century ago: another example of climate change.

From the early mists of time up to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution around 350 years ago, the evidence of climate change upon the Earth is irrefutable. Yet there is no human industry that contributed to greenhouse gases before that time. The Industrial Revolution did not occur until around the late 18th century. Yet today the scientists at the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology inform us through the Garnaut report that CO2 produced by human industry will cause future catastrophic climate change if we do not act urgently to seriously reduce its impact. It begs the question: what, then, caused the climate to change in the past if, as the scientists at the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology tell us, CO2 is the problem today? Further, where is their observational or empirical evidence?

This brings me to my next concern: the question of evidence against CO2. As a lay person, it is my understanding that in science observation always trumps theory. In my reading for preparation on these bills, I was concerned to learn that scientific observations published in two recent peer reviewed scientific papers disprove two key climate theories incorporated in the version of the CSIRO-Bureau of Meteorology computer climate model—that is, the Garnaut model—used to provide the theoretical forecasts for temperature and other climate changes that were used as input in the Garnaut climate change review report. And as we are all aware here, the Garnaut report is the driver for the justification of these bills.

For the edification of the House, and hopefully also for the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and for the chief executive officer of the CSIRO, to whom I have also written seeking clarification on this point, these two recent peer review scientific papers are published online. The first is a paper by Garth Paltridge, Albert Arking and Michael Pook entitled Trends in middle- and upper-level tropospheric humidity from NCEP reanalysis data published on 26 February 2009. The second is by Frank J. Wentz, Lucrezia Ricciardulli, Kyle Hilburn and Carl Mears called, How much more rain will global warming bring published in Science Express on 31 May 2007. I have written to the minister seeking his assurance that the climate theories incorporated in the Garnaut version of the CSIRO-Bureau of Meteorology computer model were in accordance with the observed climate principles clearly evident in the findings made by Paltridge et al and Wentz et al respectively.

I take the time to point out that the findings of these two scientific peer reviewed papers indicate that anthropogenic CO2 emissions will likely cause some global warming, but it will be an imperceptible increase of around 0.2 to 0.5 degrees spread over a century—hardly catastrophic and hardly necessitating the response by the Rudd Labor government of these draconian taxation bills, which will create a huge new government bureaucracy to administer, regulate, accredit and enforce, and create a new market commodity in trading permits to emit, and impose a new tax on everything. The Garnaut version was either based on climate theories that have since been disproved by Paltridge et al and Wentz et al retrospectively, or it was based on the climate principles clearly evident in the Paltridge and Wentz findings. It is not a difficult question for the scientists at the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology. It is either yes or no, but we need to know. It would be reckless in the extreme for members of this House to vote on these bills before we have a specific and unequivocal assurance from the minister—and I respectfully call on the minister for this assurance—that the Garnaut version was indeed based on the climate principles clearly evident in the recent discoveries made by Paltridge and Wentz respectively.

There are many other aspects of this bill which would cause my fellow Australians great concern. Many would not be aware of the corrosive impact this legislation will have on our economy. Nor would they be aware of how it will undermine certain rights we value in our legal system. The explanatory memorandum points out that the grand new bureaucracy created by this legislation is to be called the Australian Climate Change Regulatory Authority, but it will be known by the Orwellian name of the ‘Authority’. The ‘Authority’ will administer this trading system and the reporting regime. It will determine the renewable energy targets and decide on the issuing or withholding of permits to emit to the Australian industry. Orwellian discomfort continues when we learn that the ‘Authority’ can abolish the right to silence and the right to self-incrimination. There are provisions that reverse the onus of proof, and we can all forget about any privacy protections. The ‘Authority’ will have the right to pass private information on to anyone it likes, including the United Nations and foreign governments.

Alongside these concerns, I am highly suspicious of the undue haste, the huge political push to pass this legislation before the windy debates in Copenhagen. I utterly reject the political urgency that suffers no opposition, the personal ridicule meted out to those of us who dissent from the ordained mantra of those prophets of the received wisdom, whom I call the ‘Profits of Doom’. The fervour of their arrogance and their ferocity in the face of my scepticism is easier to understand when we learn that the dogma is driven by dollars in what has already become a fevered research industry, bent on doing whatever it takes to convince the world that the devil is in CO2, despite knowing that a doubling of CO2 will green the planet with bountiful plant growth and despite knowing that the recent peer reviewed discoveries disprove their pernicious and false theories.

In an interesting paper by Australian researcher Joanne Nova called Climate money published online, the author points out:

… over the last 20 years, by the end of fiscal year 2009, the US government will have poured in $32 billion for climate research—and another $36 billion for development of climate-related technologies.

Ms Nova goes on to say:

These are actual dollars, obtained from government reports, and not adjusted for inflation. It does not include funding from other governments on the global industry.

Most importantly, Ms Nova says:

The most telling point is that after spending $30 billion on pure science research no one is able to point to a single piece of empirical evidence that man-made carbon dioxide has a significant effect on the global climate.

In this present situation, where the usual scientific method of sceptical inquiry has been abandoned for an unfounded, unproven religious dogma, I hold a very real apprehension that this process of deceit, haste and verbal abuse by those ‘Profits of Doom’ of the received wisdom is something akin to a bloodless coup d’etat against our democracy, our standard of living and our Australian way of life.

Ms Nova also says:

The intimidation, disrespect and ostracism leveled at people who ask awkward questions acts like a form of censorship. Not many fields of science have dedicated smear sites for scientists. Money talks—

she concludes. And there are those of us non-believers on this side of the House that cop a right verbal walloping every now and again from the Prime Minister and his frontbench whenever they feel like there is a need to launch an invective or two across the parliamentary divide. Apparently, the Prime Minister still believes the false IPCC endorsed theory—that warm, moist air rises but when you apply more heat it slows down and rises more slowly—that Wentz has disproved, otherwise he would not be putting forward these bills. Personally, I would be terrified if I was in a hot air balloon and the Prime Minister was in charge. Every time an obstacle loomed he would turn down the burner and we would crash. When the time came to land, he would turn up the burner and we would drift up, to be carried by the winds into oblivion. There can only ever be one voyage with this Prime Minister, and it would end in disaster.

However, my real concern here is that in this legislation truth is the first casualty. This legislation is based on a false premise. It is based on a lie. As John Reid pointed out in his article in this month’s Quadrant Online:

When a political structure is set up which is based on a lie, we can expect further lies to proliferate.

The truth is that this legislation will do nothing for the environment. All this legislation will beget is a new bureaucracy and a new tax, and it will be a tax on everything. This legislation will establish an engorged bureaucracy that will regulate emissions of CO2 through its oversight of just about every aspect of our lives. We all use energy, and access to the use of energy will be drawn under tight government control, through an administration that will have, as John Reid aptly described, ‘monitoring and accreditation structures of Byzantine complexity’.

We have all been warned. My constituents should heed the words of the Hon. Ian Callinan AC QC, Justice of the High Court from 1998 to 2007, quoted in the publication Back to the 19th Century, printed by the Lavoisier Group in September this year. His Honour Justice Callinan stated:

Emissions regulation offers government an irresistible opportunity to centralize and control every aspect of our lives; on our roads, on our travels, in our workplaces, on our farms, in our forests and our mines, and, more threateningly, in our homes, constructed as they will be compelled to be, of very specific materials and of prescribed sizes. It is not difficult to foresee a diktat as to how many lights we may turn on and when we must turn them off: the great curfew. The new regime has the capacity to make the wartime National Security Regulations look like a timid exercise of government restraint.

I fear that these words will prove prophetic. In California plans are already afoot to ban ordinary citizens from using wide-screen TVs because of the energy they consume. In Australia, incandescent lights have already been banned.

The new authority will hold ultimate control over Australian industry. It will strike at the heart of our energy industry, particularly at the economic viability of our coal-based power stations. It will eventually force up the cost of energy to Australian families as Australian businesses flow through their costs of compliance to all markets. The creation of a new market in emissions trading permits issued by the authority will provide effective leverage for government control of price in this new carbon market. It is hard to see how there will be any certainty for business and industry in all this. Just look at what capricious and self-interested changes to government policy have cost Telstra shareholders.

This legislation, in creating a new market of tradeable property rights in emission permits, will certainly attract speculators and the usual other suspects, who are already sniffing the wind. But the Australian taxpayer will not be aware of the reach of this legislation until it is too late. While the banks and financial institutions are aware of the prospect of a new trading commodity, a new industry will already have been created by the time this new tax system begins to bite. There will be little, if any, prospect of any repeal. Unlike an old-fashioned consumption tax, this new tax system is a trading system. It will soon become an industry, and it will be almost politically impossible to repeal. I say this because it will very quickly become another government industry focused entirely upon its own preservation. And this is not without precedent. The federal government’s methadone program is a good example. Once this new carbon regime is in place, it will be almost politically impossible for it to be repealed. Carbon trading promises to be big, real big—even bigger than oil. Already there is a stealthy gathering of bankers and investors sniffing the lucrative trade winds of a massive new market.

One other point that must be made at this juncture is that, if CO2 really was the driver of catastrophic global warming and a certain nation knew that there were large deposits of uranium lying within its sovereign soil, why is the Rudd Labor government deafeningly silent on the obvious nuclear solution for Australia? France derives almost 80 per cent of its baseload power from nuclear energy. It also sells it to neighbouring countries so they can supplement their supplies of green energy to keep the light on when there is a lull in the wind and to meet their baseload requirements. In truth, if CO2 was the real culprit in climate change, nuclear energy is the natural, clean, green solution for Australia.

Instead, we are bullied, browbeaten and abused so that we accept this legislation, which threatens the political, social and legal fabric of our nation. And the tragedy is that today it can be clearly shown there was no need for it in the first place. The opening statement in the explanatory memorandum of this legislation is fanciful at best and outright fraudulent at worst. It hysterically portends a catastrophe of epic proportions that is based on the Garnaut report, which depended heavily upon theoretical forecasts on regional climate change for Australia that have now been proven to be incorrect by Paltridge et al and Wentz et al. So I await the minister’s assurance. Surely the scientists at the CSIRO and Bureau of Met would want to respond to the findings of Paltridge et al and Wentz et al because, as ethical scientists, they would be aware that the scientific world, and indeed every Australian, will be expecting their response in the light of these new discoveries. In the world of science observation always triumphs over theory eventually, and ethical scientists eventually abandon false theories when they have been disproved by observation. However, if ethics has gone the way of the scientific method and evidence based, informed government policymaking, and our response from the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology is a deafening silence, I would remind both these organisations of one thing: truth is the daughter of time. In the absence of any assurance from the minister in this regard, I have no option but to reject these bills for the fraud they are upon the people of my country.