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Thursday, 29 October 2009
Page: 11566

Mr BIDGOOD (4:34 PM) —As I said earlier in the day when speaking on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009 [No. 2] and cognate bills, the Labor Party is the miners’ friend; it always has been and always will be. We have a commitment and a mandate from the people of Australia to cut carbon emissions. That is what we were elected to do and that is what we will do. We will create thousands of new energy jobs—green jobs reducing carbon going into the atmosphere, making coal clean so that it can be exported, and exported with confidence knowing that it will not be blocked by high tariffs by the European Union, the United States or anywhere else in the world. That is why we must have clean coal. In my seat of Dawson there are something like 38,000 miners who rely on the coal industry and the mining industry in general for their livelihoods—to look after their families, their homes and their children.

So let us have no more deceit from the other side of the House saying that cutting emissions will cut jobs. I want to say to everyone who sent me an email with that title in it: this Rudd Labor government is committed wholeheartedly to producing more coal to send overseas in our exports. We will create thousands more jobs, and I have evidence of that, because the local Daily Mercury often gets the message just right about what is going on in our community. The one I am holding, which is dated 3 October 2009, has an article ‘Port power! Port growth could jump’, which states:

DALRYMPLE Bay Coal Terminal has unveiled an ambitious $4 billion plan to expand by 80 per cent and create 1000 new jobs.

Do you think that this government would do anything to jeopardise that? No, absolutely not. We are in the business of increasing productivity and increasing new opportunities for mining companies to export to help the bottom line of this nation.

So let us not hear any more from the other side—or from the Australian Coal Association, with their scare campaign. They are earning multibillion dollar profits and they are saying to us, ‘You’re going to cut emissions but you’re also going to cut jobs.’ What a load of rubbish. We are in the business of building up this nation and making it a nation that is productive and fulfilling for the people who work in it. I want to make that very clear.

The towns of Mackay and particularly Bowen will boom. I have to say, Bowen is definitely a place in the seat of Dawson that is going to boom. It is going to boom big time. The Queensland Labor government of Anna Bligh have just announced that they are doing a public-private partnership with two coal companies to build the 69-kilometre missing link. What is it going to do? It is going to double productivity from 50 million tonnes a year to 110 million tonnes a year. Do you think this government is going to do something which is going to jeopardise that productivity, which will add to the bottom line of this nation’s wealth? Absolutely not. The Rudd Labor government is committed to expanding the nation, to building the nation and to increasing the nation’s productivity. That is what we have set out to do, that is what we have the mandate to do and we are going to do it.

We signed the Kyoto protocol. That is the first thing that we did. Then we said sorry to the Stolen Generations. Then we got rid of Work Choices. There was a bit of legislation that was going to cut jobs and drive hardworking families into the ground, earning a pittance because the laws of the land created by the other side of politics were driving working people down, down, down. The wages were going down, and if you did not accept your cut in wages you would lose your job. What bad laws they were. We had the mandate of the people in November 2007 to get rid of Work Choices. We kept our promises. That is what we did. We are in the business of giving workers security, stability, a good lifestyle, a good home, a good education and a good health service. That is what we are committed to doing, and that is what we are doing. We are getting on with the job. We are building this nation. So let us not have any more tittle-tattle from the other side of this House saying that CPRS is going to cost jobs. It is not. We are going to build the nation. We are going to build the wealth of the nation, we are going to work hand in hand with the international community and we are going to reduce the amount of carbon going into the atmosphere.

I think it is very important to get that right off my chest right now, because I have had enough of all these scaremongering tactics from the other side, making good working people in the mining industry in the Bowen Basin frightened for their jobs. It is typical. That is what you did with Work Choices and that is what you are trying to do with this CPRS scare email campaign. I have never heard anything like it. It is absolutely disgusting. You should be working in a bipartisan way to build this nation, to build the wealth of this nation and to look after the good of the atmosphere of this global world. We are working with everybody—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr S Sidebottom)—Order! The member for Dawson will address his remarks through the chair.

Mr BIDGOOD —I say through the Deputy Speaker to the other side of the House—I deflect it through you to the other side, Mr Deputy Speaker—that we are working hand in hand with the international community, absolutely. That is why at the G8, when our Prime Minister Kevin Rudd went there, there was an agreement for 20 CCS—that is, carbon capture and storage—projects. I know, Mr Deputy Speaker, you and I were on the primary industries committee when we brought down the report, Down Under—aptly named by you, Mr Deputy Speaker! We looked into a wide range of evidence that this is a feasible project to reduce carbon through capture and storage. We can take carbon out of coal, we can put it underground and we can lock it into the natural vaults beneath the earth, which have held carbon naturally for millions of years. It is proven. It is happening off the coast of Denmark. There are case studies there that are in the report Down Under, which the other side can go and refer to. We are world leaders in these new technologies, but the other side of politics wants to jeopardise that leadership. We can be world leaders in carbon capture and storage.

I want to remind the other side of politics exactly how serious climate change is and how serious the science is. Last night was the Prime Minister’s science awards night. I was honoured to be there to see the incredible minds that we have at work in this nation. We can be truly proud of the smartest and brightest people and the way they want to inspire our youth to get a hunger for science and research. It was fantastic. I was also there last year. Professor Penny Sackett, the Chief Scientist, made this very clear statement. She said:

If we just continue on and do nothing, if we just do business as usual and do nothing about carbon emissions into the atmosphere, the sea level will rise one metre by the year 2050.

That is if we do absolutely nothing. What did the other side, the coalition, the naysayers, the flat-earth believers say? For 11 years they did nothing. And that is their policy until 2050—to do nothing. You know the results and the consequences of that—the sea levels will rise by one metre.

We had another report come out this week from the parliament, a bipartisan report about the effects of climate change on our coastline around Australia. If you were to apply that scenario of a one-metre rise by 2050 you would find out very quickly that climate change is a very real phenomenon. In the South Sea islands—PNG, the Solomon Islands—already there is social migration from islands which are sinking because of climate change and rising sea levels. Not only do the sea levels rise but the temperature of the sea changes. As the temperature of the sea changes, conditions of air convection change as well.

We have seen more incidents recently, particularly off the coast of Queensland, such as Cyclone Hamish. I happened to be in Mackay the night that Cyclone Hamish came within 200 kilometres. It was on a Saturday night. For the first time ever, the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor of Mackay issued an evacuation alert warning. This was because Cyclone Hamish was a category 5 cyclone, one category higher than Hurricane Katrina, which caused so much devastation in the United States of American in New Orleans. The locals are very familiar with the routine of getting ready for cyclone evacuation. We are very well drilled and very well prepared. I commend the four councils in my seat of Dawson, the Townsville Council, Burdekin Shire Council, the Whitsunday Regional Council and Mackay Regional Council. They do a fantastic job every year making people aware of the need to have water, torches, batteries, cans of food and dry and waterproof containers for important documents such as birth certificates, passports and other important documents like qualifications and the like. They do a fantastic job.

But everybody is saying in the seat of Dawson that things are not like they used to be. The weather events are more severe. This House will remember the floods of Mackay in February 2008. We had more rain in an overnight period than has ever been seen before. It was unbelievable. It knocked out 8,000 homes. That has a direct relationship with climate change. We have never seen anything like that before. So we need to take climate change very seriously indeed. I just do not see the other side of the House doing that. It is irresponsible for people to say there are two views of the science. The fact is that the ice caps are melting, the sea is rising and things are changing.

Climate change will put jobs at risk and it will put industries at risk unless we act to protect jobs. How do we do that? We have our greatest export, coal—there is also aluminium and uranium—that we mine and then sell overseas. All mining activities need to be cleaner. They need to be cleaner so that, if members of the international community, such as the EU, say, ‘If your coal isn’t produced in a clean way or it isn’t cleaned up, we’ll put on extra tariffs’, and then our coal and our minerals become less competitive on the world market. That is why we have to act. That is why we have to have leadership from the industry associations as well as from the unions.

I would like quote the senior vice-president of the CFMEU mining and energy division in Queensland, Stuart Vaccaneo. He says that coal mining industry employment will continue to grow over the next 20 years; it will not decline. Tony Maher, also from the CFMEU—the national president of the mining and energy division—said:

This scare mongering is purely a cynical bid of mining giants to squeeze more money in compensation out of Australian taxpayers.

Let us just remind ourselves: the mining companies are doing very nicely out of the Australian economy. They are doing very nicely indeed—multibillion dollar profits. We want to see those profits enhanced, because it does add to the bottom line of this nation.

On the issue of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and the evidence, we need to remember that this is one of the hottest and driest continents on earth and that Australia’s environment and economy will be one of the hardest and fastest hit by climate change if we do not act now. This legislation is absolutely essential to safeguard mining jobs. Yes, we need to cut emissions and we need to the legislation to do that—because it will save jobs. It will not lose jobs; it will save jobs. The Rudd government is taking responsible and decisive action immediately to tackle climate change by introducing this Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will also reduce carbon emissions and ensure that we increase our investments in industries like renewable energy—solar, wind, geothermal—in the future, creating thousands of new businesses and jobs. Just yesterday it was an honour to be with the Hon. Martin Ferguson, the Minister for Resources and Energy, and the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and Bob Katter, the member for Kennedy, upstairs at the launch of the Australian Centre of Renewable Innovation. This is just fantastic news. This is another billion dollar investment to get the best knowledge, the best minds and the best ideas to work for the wealth and the security of energy for this nation and for our people. Then we will be able sell those technologies overseas. We can help people in developing countries with our technologies. So it was wonderful to be a part of that. It is powering up North Queensland, which is so important because we have so many mineral deposits there which we need to export.

There are also schemes around the world operating in 27 European countries and 27 states and provinces in the USA and Canada. They are introducing emissions trading schemes to reduce carbon pollution, as is New Zealand. Passing the CPRS legislation before the end of this year will give Australian businesses the certainty that they need about the future. That is why business groups like the BCA and the AiG want it voted on this year. Business needs predictability in terms of costs, expenses and incomes. That is how you can manage and steer a business five years, 10 years, 20 years and 50 years into the future. Those in the business world need predictable outcomes.

There are many people on this side of the House in the Labor Party who like me have run small businesses. I spent 14 years in small business and I know about expenses, incomes and predictability. You need to make an educated guess as to what the future is going to hold. So it is with multibillion dollar mining companies. They need to have certainty as to what they are up for in the global and national economy. That is why this is important. That is why business groups like the BCA and the AiG want it voted on this year. They want to get this settled and they want to get it done so that they know how they are going to manage their businesses. The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will help us tackle climate change in a way that will ensure the future of our kids and future generations.

The National Party just do not want to know. Senator Barnaby Joyce thinks we should go drilling for oil in the Antarctic. Enough said! He does not care, for one minute, that there might be a climate change problem. They are a divided house on the other side—divided completely on their science and on their beliefs—and a divided house always falls. That is what we are seeing at the moment. We see confusion and division, and they will fall.

While our legislation has been available since March, the Leader of the Opposition is now going to put forward a very rushed, last-minute change. They are chopping and changing: ‘Which way is the wind blowing? Okay, perhaps that’s what we should do. What’s the latest public opinion? That’s a good idea; let’s go with that.’ They really do not have core beliefs. Their core beliefs are split in half. The opposition is divided in half.

For 12 years the coalition—and, more recently, Malcolm Turnbull, the Leader of the Opposition—failed to act on climate change. They would not even sign up to Kyoto. That was the first thing we did. This Rudd Labor government is serious about reducing carbon emissions and serious about building the bottom line of this nation—saving jobs, creating jobs and making sure that we have an energy system that is sustainable well into future generations. I totally and utterly commend these bills to the House to save the working miners’ jobs in the seats of Dawson, Capricornia and Flynn. And don’t anyone ever say that we are not the miners’ friends. We are. The Labor Party has been and always will be.