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Monday, 16 November 2009
Page: 11688


Mr FARMER (3:43 PM) —I rise today to speak on behalf of my constituents on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009 [No. 2] and related bills. They have conveyed to me their fears and concerns via phone, email and letter. They warn about the potentially damaging effects of rushing into the ETS and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Their concerns are in regard to the haphazard nature of the Rudd government’s actions. Senator Penny Wong and the government are trying to force through their proposed ETS—a scheme that would tax every man, woman and child in this country.

Most people, including me, believe the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and the ETS are directed towards the reduction or cleansing of heavy particles in the atmosphere. However, further investigation has illustrated that this may not be the case. In fact, what may be behind all of this is simply a policy that will tax not only Australians but people worldwide so that governments will have a source of income to get them through the tough period of financial difficulty that they are experiencing at this point in time.

My fears and those of my constituents are that the ETS and the CPRS are about amassing taxpayer funds—from the very constituents that you and I represent, Madam Deputy Speaker Bird—so that governments around the world can use those funds to trade their way out of the debt that they find themselves in of late. None of us should be fooled that the ETS and the CPRS are anything other than a revenue raising exercise in the guise of green credentials.

The government continue to ignore the objections and concerns of the many constituents that we represent, and their motive appears to be nothing more than a strategy to collect revenue. If the ETS is a tax in the clothing of an environmental initiative, then why don’t the Labor government simply state that they have spent the surplus handed to them by the coalition, they have driven us into billions of dollars of debt and the only way that they can see to get out of this mess is to tax their way out?

The New South Wales state government have overspent and consequently they are looking to tax the public to remedy this mess. They have done so to such an extent that they are forcing many residents and constituents of New South Wales to migrate to Queensland—hence the need for the redistribution of a seat. The numbers in Queensland have increased so much that we have actually lost a seat in New South Wales to Queensland. Just as Nathan Rees continues to create new taxes, calling them levies or tolls, in order to plug a black hole that he describes as consolidated revenue, so too do the federal Labor government see that as the way out of their economic mismanagement.

I have travelled the world and I have seen the pollution created by the smokestacks of business and the exhaust pipes of transport—in Asia, including India, Nepal and China, and in South America, the United States and Europe. However, I do not feel, nor do my constituents, that the scheme placed before us here today is in any way an effort to combat the levels of environmental pollution and will necessarily achieve the desired results. I fear that any money that is derived from a global ETS will be misappropriated and, together with my constituents, I do not believe that there is any of the necessary framework in place to prove otherwise.

Furthermore, I wish to convey the concerns of my constituents in regard to the potential impact on employment in certain workplace sectors that may come about as a result of a rushed and poorly planned CPRS and ETS.

We believe that, if the government were serious about cutting pollution levels, they would support lowering the taxes that are already in place on industries that agree and comply with lowering their emission levels, rather than introduce new taxes and allow industries to trade them. It does not make sense to me to say that we are trying to reduce carbon emission levels and then say it is all right for industry to do this so long as they pay for the privilege and buy credits. And who gets the money? The government gets the money. What do they do with the money? Lord only knows.

Australians are motivated enough to make a difference to the environment without being hit over the head with a heavy tax stick. The coalition believes in incentives rather than taxes. The Liberal Party believes in a government that nurtures and encourages its citizens through initiatives rather than by putting limits on people through the punishing disincentive of burdensome taxes and stifling structures of Labor, corporate, state and bureaucratic red tape.

To give an example of the many letters I have received about this, I wish to read out a letter from Mr Ian Harley of Elderslie. Mr Harley wished to convey his fears for his financial security and indeed that of many other constituents who currently hold employment in the mining sector—but this too cuts across the board, for the cement industry and many other industries in my electorate in south-west Sydney. The letter reads:

Dear Pat,

I am a coal miner who lives in your electorate. I wish to ask for your support in voting against the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme.

I believe that if this was passed, the mine that I work & many others will become economically unviable, which will lead to their closure.

This is an industry that has been part of my family for generations with my father, two of my uncles, my brother and myself all long term employees of the coal industry.

I am fifty five years old and would find it very difficult to find alternate employment. I am sure that there would be thousands of people throughout the industry in a similar position.

I also think that what Australia does regarding the ETS will be of little consequence unless the major players like China and the USA make a full scale commitment.

Please represent my views and those of my fellow workers when it comes time to make and decisions regarding the ETS.

Regards,

Ian Harley

I have listened to members opposite sing the praises of a CPRS and the introduction of an ETS. I have heard them say: ‘What does it matter if this scheme is introduced? If we’ve got it wrong, the worst that we’ve possibly done is encouraged industry to clean up their act a little bit.’ I would like to put it to them that, if they have got it wrong, this is not just an insurance policy for cleaning up the air; this is a problem that is going to create massive unemployment here in Australia. It is going to force a lot of industry overseas, and it is my constituents and other people who have to put food on the table for their families and a roof over their heads that I am concerned about.

Like a number of my constituents have quite rightly pointed out, they are very concerned that if Australia goes down this track and we try and lead the world on this whole business we will force the jobs overseas without any benefits to the world’s pollution crisis that we are suffering from at this point in time. As I have noted, I have gone overseas and I have seen the pollution in many other countries and I have seen how bad it is. I am not saying that Australia should not play its part in becoming a green environment. Nobody on this side of the House is disputing the fact that we all need to work towards a cleaner greener environment for ourselves and for our children and our children’s children and that we should do everything in our capabilities to encourage industry to do so as well. However, we do not believe that forcing industry offshore is going to be the answer to that problem. It is much better for us to work with industry here in Australia and to encourage them to meet the targets that are required through support rather than with a large tax stick, which is the approach that has been taken by the government of the day.