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Thursday, 11 February 2010
Page: 1148


Mr SIMPKINS (10:25 AM) —What I find amazing is that the government has thousands of public servants at its disposal and all we have got are these standard words, these catchcries and these denigrations of individuals. It depicts a government that is a little bit rattled and a little bit concerned, and that is all it has got. I really wonder how it has come to this: the government reintroducing this failure of a scheme for the third time. Support for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2010 and related bills is dwindling about as far down as the number of people who actually understand it, yet the member for Shortland asked us to explain the government’s scheme when the government cannot even do it itself.

Clearly what has happened in this country is that the government has come up with this scheme that it does not really know is all about, as I will explain later. Just yesterday morning when the ABC news wanted an expert on the CPRS and this legislation they did not go to the government; instead, they went to the Australian National University. That is what it has come to. It is expensive, ineffective, damaging to the national interest and an abject failure that is only eclipsed by the failure that was Copenhagen—unless you were on the delegation on the trip and one of the 114 members of the Prime Minister’s key, essential staff. Actually, 114 is a familiar figure. Wait! That is the cost of the CPRS—$114 billion of skew on the Australian economy which will end up doing nothing.

Before I begin I will repeat some facts from a speech that I made in October last year, as it is important to understand just what we are dealing with regarding CO2—the stuff that is described as pollution by the government. Carbon dioxide or CO2 is just one of the gases described as a greenhouse gas. The reality is that the greenhouse gases in total make up just one per cent of the atmosphere. To go further, of that one per cent of the atmosphere that is greenhouse gases, 75 to 95 per cent is water vapour. So when we talk about CO2 it represents less than five per cent of that one per cent of the total atmosphere.

But that is not the end of it, because human produced carbon dioxide represents just seven per cent of the CO2 emissions and Australia produces 1.4 per cent of that figure. So, if my calculations are correct, the carbon dioxide produced within this nation represents around 0.0000002 per cent of the atmosphere and that is what the government is trying to reduce. In that attempt to reduce a small number by an even smaller number, last year Access Economics predicted 13,000 jobs would be lost in Western Australia. That is a big cost. Price rises of 12.5 per cent are to be expected on average just to reduce that 0.0000002 per cent by five per cent.

The question is why we would want to pay that price for so little return. The government seeks to impose on this nation a $114 billion great big new tax on everything. The government seeks to fundamentally alter the national economy and skew everything in order to reduce Australia’s human induced CO2 from a very small number to a number which is only slightly smaller. That figure would be eclipsed by a couple of months of economic growth in China or even a volcanic eruption. The skewed economy the government wants would also result in carbon and job leakages to nations with lower environmental standards than we have. Again, what is the benefit? It would be a very expensive, economy-altering super tax that would substantially alter the economy for no environmental benefits.

I struggle to find anything good about these bills and the government, as we know, has been unable to explain how it works to the Australian people. As I said before, just yesterday morning when the ABC were looking for an expert they could be sure would explain the CPRS they did not go to the government—or maybe they did go to the government but the government did not want to be part of it. Instead, they went to the ANU—a sad but consistent indictment of the government’s knowledge of its own legislation perhaps.

With regard to these bills, I have—as have, I am sure, many other members—received many more emails telling me to vote against the ETS than to vote for it. I can assure them all that I will not be voting for the ETS; I will not be voting for any of these bills. There will come a day when we will all be held accountable for our actions and what we say here. I am prepared to stand by my actions in doing the right thing. Obviously those on the other side absolutely stand by their arguments about the threats that face the world. What we do not hear very much about from the government is the detailed science. The main thing you have to when you are trying to win an argument is to provide proof. I believe there is only one real scientist in the House of Representatives, and that is the member for Tangney, so he is worth listening to. He is an authority and has justification for speaking on scientific matters. But from the other side we hear only assertions, denigrations and abuse of alternative views. Over there, the members on the government side hide behind the lines given by the ministerial officers, and I remind them that when they appear here with all of their unequivocal assertions they in effect align themselves lock, stock and barrel with absolute blind faith. What I intend to show is that there is enough information out there to challenge the position that the government members have locked themselves into.

So, when they come into this place and propose an ETS and abuse us for any alternatives that provide very broad and realistic benefits for a sustainable future like direct action does, they should be aware that the science is not settled and they have aligned themselves with vested interests. I am not a scientist. It would therefore be reckless of me to state the categorical truth of the matter regarding the disputed science that abounds. I take an approach which is contrary to that of those who sit opposite. They sit there confident and certain, comfortably living in a world of black and white, where their side is right and the other side is wrong—where the evidence that disputes their position is completely dismissed behind allegations of dinosaurs, deniers, sceptics and other terms designed not to defend their position with reasoned argument but just to denigrate alternative views or questions. I will therefore take this opportunity to speak about the science in some detail, which would probably surprise my high school chemistry teacher, given my results.

One of the big claims regarding global warming is the theory something like what the Hollywood disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow was apparently modelled on, so I assume that the government members would support the concept that global warming may shut down the thermohaline circulation in the oceans. Yet a 2006 research paper actually observed a strengthening of the circulation, not a weakening. So that is one big claim about global warming about which there is scientific evidence that says otherwise. If anyone in this place has not heard of MIT climate scientist Richard Lindzen then they should read more widely on the science. It is Richard Lindzen’s paper from last year regarding the earth’s climate sensitivity that should have every unbiased elected representative and commentator around the world asking questions about the voracity of the IPCC claims and indeed about the whole validity of the CO2 relationship to radiation and the greenhouse effect.

Simply speaking, the greenhouse theory is that heat from the sun reaches the earth’s surface and then the radiation is trapped more and more by increasing amounts of manmade CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The theory follows that increasing amounts of human-induced CO2 will lift average temperatures around the world, thereby causing significant changes to regions around the globe. This is what the term climate sensitivity refers to, being that relationship between CO2 and how it traps radiation and lifts temperatures as a result of increased CO2 and greenhouse gases. If climate sensitivity is high then the earth’s temperature reacts to solar variations, increased concentrations of greenhouse gases and other factors. If climate sensitivity is, however, low, then the earth’s temperatures do not react very much to these sorts of factors.

The question therefore becomes: how certain are we that the IPCC’s predicted greenhouse gas concentrations will cause temperatures to, as it has been suggested, rise between two and 4½ degrees? This is the big issue with the whole argument of human-induced global warming. The entire IPCC argument and links to CO2 and the Greenhouse Effect depend on high climate sensitivity. That brings me back to the importance of Richard Lindzen’s research. Using actual observations, Lindzen and his collaborator Choi have found that by examining actual observations, the amount of radiation moving back into space increases with warmer ocean temperatures. This is incredibly important because the climate models wrongly predict that when ocean temperatures rise, there is a reduced amount of radiation moving back into space. Lindzen thereby determines that instead of the 2 to 4.5-degree Celsius rise expected from the rise in CO2 and other greenhouse gases, just 0.5 of a degree can be expected. This would then help account for the absence of global warming that has occurred since 1998.

The notion that complex climate ‘catastrophes’ are simply a matter of the response of a single number, global average temperatures, to a single forcing, CO2 (or even solar forcing), represents a gigantic step backward in the science of climate. Many disasters associated with the warming are simply normal occurrences whose existence is falsely claimed to be evidence of warming. And all these examples involve phenomena that are dependent on the confluence of many factors.’

The willingness of the government in this place to attribute every weather event to human-induced climate change without consideration of naturally occurring cycles such as El Nino effect and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is just incredible. If the temperature in Adelaide is 41 degrees in summer, they say that is human-induced climate change. If the temperature is 21, they are silent. If there is drought here, that is climate change, yet record snow and cold weather on the east coast of the United States does not seem to be mentioned.

The government’s statements on the weather are very selective and I can understand why they would be so. Milking community concerns in 2007 for all they were worth was clever politics, yet now, as more and more Australians look at what is going on around the world and begin to question what they have been told by this government, it is becoming harder to sell what the people are increasingly refusing to buy. Increasing credibility problems with the IPCCs and some of the proponents of the theory of anthropogenic global warming, together with reports of weather that is not consistent with the apocalypse predicted, has more and more Australians and other people around the world questioning what is going on.

Of course there has also been a focus on what took place at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia. This involves allegations of concealing and destroying raw climate data, as well as targeting scientific dissent and silencing those seeking to have alternative views published. The computer system of the CRU was hacked and a number of concerning emails were made public. In just October last year well-known climate change advocate Kevin Trenberth emailed Michael Mann and other climate change advocates. When speaking of record low temperatures in parts of the United States Trenberth lamented:

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.

I think what he means is that while the figures say there was not warming, the models were saying there would be. There is a bit of a reality mismatch in there. When looking at the actions of pro-anthropogenic global warming advocates, the allegations being investigated, and the inconsistencies between real weather and raw data in comparison to climate change models that are not predicting what is actually happening now, the number of questions that need to be asked is increasing, not decreasing. There is nothing settled about this science.

Some may say: ‘What does this mean? Is this the end to the theory of human induced global warming?’ I suspect not, but what is required is that this issue be seriously followed up. I call upon the government to hold a full inquiry into the science. Let us get Mann, Hansen and Jones out here. Let us hear Lindzen, Itoh, Kapitsa and others with alternative views as well. Currently, it seems that research funding favours only the human induced global warming theory. That certainly appears to be the case. All the funding is a one-way street and, in my view, that has robbed the debate of objectivity.

Speaking of objectivity, it is probably right to look at those that line up to support this ETS and a global cap-and-trade scheme. When you line them up, you are in fact lining up those with vested interests, led above all by Al Gore, whose personal fortune has greatly multiplied through his involvement in the climate change industry as evidenced by his appearance fee of US$175,000 in 2007—which I now hear is over US$300,000. Or it may be his involvement in various business interests that also greatly benefit from any cap-and-trade scheme. Another vested interest would appear to be some elements of the BBC. I read yesterday that the BBC’s pension fund is heavily invested in businesses relying on the theory of human induced global warming. The objectivity of the BBC is therefore questioned when their, I believe, $8 billion pension fund is exposed in this matter.

It even comes down to research funding in this country where, if the research relates to climate change, your chances of getting your funding approved is greatly enhanced, if not guaranteed. I think we can expect that everyone whose employment is tied to the theory of human induced climate change is not an independent person. Similarly, all those advisers or consultants put on the staff of businesses and other organisations around the world to advise on adjusting to climate change’s proposed new laws or proposed new economies are similarly influenced beyond the realm of impartiality.

I could go on about the Head of the IPCC, Dr Pachauri, and his vested interests but it would be better to now concentrate on a plan that will actually benefit Australia through the coalition’s plan for direct action on the environment. Upfront our policy would cost $3.2 billion over four years, in direct contrast to the skewing and false influences on the economy provided by this ETS that we are debating today. Apart from the damage to jobs and the economy in general, over four years the Rudd government’s new big tax on everything will cost $40.6 billion, climbing to $114 billion over 10 years. It is outrageous that the government accuses us in matters economic. I remind the government that this nation used to have a surplus. Again we have the great tradition of Australian politics, we run surpluses on this side to pay off the debt, while the other side massively spends every dollar and borrows more. These are the great traditions of Australian politics.

In direct contrast to the tax and churn fiasco that is this great big tax on everything, we could look at the more modest yet more effective scheme that is the coalition’s policy. Firstly, there is the range of initiatives to boost solar energy use in Australia following on from the former coalition government’s initiative in solar energy: $100 million each year for an additional one million solar homes by 2020. To progress renewable energy take-ups across Australia, 125 solar projects will be established in schools and communities and there will be 25 geothermal or tidal power projects established in suitable towns.

Larger scale renewable energy generation will also be developed with a proportion of incentives provided through the renewable energy target. I also appreciate the focus and the support for research on high-voltage direct current cables. Such cables will make renewable power generation in remote places viable, allowing transmission of that power with minimal losses. It also provides options for taking away high-voltage transmission corridors such as the one that is such an eyesore between Malaga and South Ballajura in the electorate of Cowan.

The initiatives include the emissions reduction fund providing $2.5 billion to support carbon reduction activities by business and industry. This will work by using the existing reporting scheme to determine proposed emission reductions beyond base levels already determined for actual businesses. This will be the business as usual level, and businesses that go above that level will be penalised. Those businesses that reduce their emissions will be encouraged by the ability to sell those savings, their abatement, back to the government. A direct financial incentive would be provided.

Some may say, ‘What about new businesses?’ Very simply, no penalty will apply if you enter or expand the business at the industry best practice. This is how you protect jobs and not send them overseas with the ETS CPRS big new tax on everything. This is how we would, as a responsible government, look after the best interests of our nation with understandable good policies. It is worth noting that Labor’s big tax on everything relies heavily on the purchase of CO2 emission abatements to meet their five percent reduction target. Where are the local environmental benefits here when the abatement allegedly occurs overseas?

Overall, the emissions reduction fund is about incentives rather than imposing job and productivity destroying liabilities for business. It is about incentives, as opposed to the government’s big tax on everything, which is tantamount to putting both feet firmly on the economy’s brake pedal. It is for this reason that compensation is not required. You do not have to give the cash out to families if you do not hurt them through big tax increases when every business they enter or buy from has to pass along the costs of the Rudd government’s big tax on everything.

I would also like to make mention of the very practical and effective initiative of 20 million trees to be planted in available public places. Everyone knows from their basic science lessons that trees convert CO2 to oxygen—therefore, the more the better.

I would like to remind the government that Australians are smart. They do not just accept assertions without proof. Now the government is left holding this failure of a plan—the ETS and CPRS. It is such a failure that it is no longer even your focus in Question Time as you embark upon the strategy of attacking individuals. Do not think for a second that this has not been widely noted. We will oppose these bills here for the national interest. When these bills are defeated in the Senate, I invite the Prime Minister to have a referendum on it or to call an election—whatever—and to have the courage to be prepared to explain the details. (Time expired)