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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6246


Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (11:52): I rise to speak on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Bill 2012. To start with, putting aside the carbon tax and the NBN, this legislation is one of the most economically irresponsible pieces of legislation that have ever been introduced into this parliament, for what this legislation actually does is to take $10 billion—that is $10,000 million—and hand it over to as yet unidentified groups to spend on so-called green investment projects—projects that the private investors would not touch with a 40-foot barge pole. Let us not forget that on top of that $10 billion there is an additional $57 million in the forward estimates thrown in for some sundry expenses. So where is the government going to get this money from? Where is the government going to find another $10 billion? It simply plans to borrow it—every single last cent, most of which will be borrowed from foreigners. What the people in the gallery need to understand is that every time you borrow money someone has to write the guarantee. So it is the Australian taxpayer who is writing the guarantee for this borrowing. In fact, every Australian family of four has to guarantee $2,000 to underwrite this legislation. That is the cost.

This bill, like many others, is destined to end in tears. Mark my words: when the carnage of the long-term economic damage arising from this government's policies is finally tallied and engraved on its tombstone, this boondoggle will be right at the top. It is not surprising when I look at the speakers list that there is a complete dearth of speakers from the government side that are prepared to come into this chamber and mark their name down in the Hansard as having spoken in favour of this bill, because they know that, like the long list of other failed so-called green schemes, this will end in tears and a very substantial part of that $10 billion will simply be vaporised in failed schemes. For those that have been foolhardy enough to come into this chamber and debate on this bill, if you think that it is really a good idea to invest this $10 billion and you truly believe that this money is going to be wisely spent, it is very simple: you should be putting your own money up. You should be writing the guarantees out to provide for these loans. Why don't you put your own superannuation savings up? You simply will not, because you know this is going to end in tears.

The absurd waste of resources that have so far been expended on so-called green energy in the delusion that we can take action to manipulate our climate should make us weep. Consider how many lives could be changed for the better if, instead of being wasted on this boondoggle, this $10 billion were invested to help our kids with disabilities and their carers, taken to fix up the mess of our hospitals or used to invest in our roads, in our public transport or in fast rail. Every cent that is spent has an opportunity cost.

I would like to refer to a few words in the explanatory memorandum to this bill which clearly demonstrate that the authors of this bill have not got a clue. It speaks of a government that knows little about the real world of industry and business and is simply determined to try to reshape it in its own politically correct image. The explanatory memorandum to this bill states:

The Corporation will finance Australia's clean energy sector using financial products and structures to address the barriers currently inhibiting investment.

The barrier currently inhibiting investment is that so-called green energy is hopelessly inefficient. No-one is going to invest in green energy unless they are guaranteed a huge taxpayer subsidy. The explanatory memorandum goes on:

The Corporation will apply capital through a commercial filter …

To talk of a commercial filter and to suggest that a commercial filter can somehow magically limit losses to 7½ per cent of its capital in unsuccessful projects is an absolute absurdity. It is the complete commercial naivety that you would expect from someone that invests in a Nigerian 419 scam. But sadly this is the type of commercial naivety we have seen over and over again from this government, from GroceryWatch to the BER to the set-top projects et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

In the time left, let us have a quick look at some of the past so-called green schemes that supposedly would have passed through a commercial filter. I am sure we can all remember the ZeroGen project in Queensland, promoted by their former Premier Mr Beattie. A press release from 30 August 2007 titled 'Smart state takes step closer to clean coal with ZeroGen' states:

Premier Peter Beattie welcomed news today that development of vital technology to help secure the future of Queensland’s coal industry and the thousands of jobs it creates had reached a major milestone.

We all know what happened to ZeroGen. When our then resources minister, Ian Macfarlane, warned that ZeroGen in Queensland would collapse, Mr Beattie accused Mr Macfarlane of being on drugs. Well, the only thing that went up in smoke was $50 million of taxpayers' money.

Then take an example of a project passing a commercial filter, with the example of Solyndra from the USA. Solyndra was meant to be the flagship of the Obama administration's effort to drive the clean energy industry. Back in May 2010, President Obama visited the solar panel manufacturer's Californian headquarters to celebrate the $500 million of American taxpayers' money that he had thrown at it. The President declared:

The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra.

How misguided. Solyndra is now closed. The $500 million of taxpayers' funds has been vaporised. But even worse, the so-called clean and green solar manufacturer has closed its doors leaving behind tonnes of toxic waste.

While the solar energy industry claims to be clean and green, the Solyndra debacle highlighted the fact that toxic waste is produced in the manufacture of solar cells. This has been a problem for years. Solar panel production creates many toxic by-products including silicon tetrachloride, an extremely toxic substance which renders crops infertile, causes skin burns and increases the likelihood of lung disease, and transforms into acids and poisonous hydrogen chloride gas when exposed to air.

The lessons from these debacles should be clear: when governments force taxpayers to subsidise any business it almost always leads to economic damage and collapse. Today, we see the green energy bubble bursting around the world. And around the world, the claims of those that prophesied for the IPCC are collapsing. Just take the recent statement from Professor Klaus-Eckart Puls, a leading German physicist and meteorologist:

Ten years ago I simply parroted what the IPCC told us. One day I started checking the facts and data - first I started with a sense of doubt but then I became outraged when I discovered that much of what the IPCC and the media were telling us was sheer nonsense and was not even supported by any scientific facts and measurements. To this day I still feel shame that as a scientist I made presentations of their science without first checking it.

…   …   …

… Scientifically it is sheer absurdity to think we can get a nice climate by turning a CO2 adjustment knob.

He also said:

The CO2-climate hysteria … is propagated by people who are in it for lots of money, attention and power.

And that is what this bill does. It hands over lots of money—$10,000 million.

We should be looking at what is happening around the world. In Germany, they have already given away $130 billion in green subsidies, mostly to solar power companies. Yet in Germany, solar power makes up a minuscule percentage of the German power supply while at the same time doing nothing towards the original objective of reducing German greenhouse gas emissions. So it is no surprise that, last February, Germany's Minister of Economy and Technology announced a pullback from green power subsidies, stating that such a cost was 'a threat to the economy'.

In Spain, where they have poured billions of dollars of cash into solar and wind power subsidies, they have little to show for this except a $25 billion increase in that financially crippled nation's debt, an unemployment rate of 25 per cent, and, for those under 30, it is getting close to 50 per cent. In the United States, where green power companies have received more than $4 billion to build wind farms, a recent Wall Street Journal investigation found that these projects have created only 7,200 temporary—temporary!—construction jobs at the amazing cost of US$600, 000 per job and only 300 permanent jobs at the unbelievable figure of US$14 million per job.

Around the world, the green energy bubble is bursting. Take the recent comments from Fiona Kobusingye, a director and coordinator of the Congress of Racial Equality in Uganda. Ms Kobusingye wrote:

Life in Africa is often nasty, impoverished and short. AIDS kills 2.2 million Africans every year according to WHO (World Health Organization) reports. Lung infections cause 1.4 million deaths, malaria 1 million more, intestinal diseases 700,000. Diseases that could be prevented with simple vaccines kill an additional 600,000 annually, while war, malnutrition and life in filthy slums send countless more parents and children to early graves.

And yet, day after day, Africans are told the biggest threat we face is - global warming.

…   …   …

It’s the almost total absence of electricity keeping us from creating jobs and becoming modern societies. It’s that these policies KILL.

…   …   …

Not having electricity means millions of Africans don’t have refrigerators to preserve food and medicine.

…   …   …

Not having electricity also means disease and death. It means millions die from lung infections, because they have to cook and heat with open fires …

…   …   …

Hypothetical global warming a hundred years from now is worse than this?

Ms Kobusingye concludes:

Telling Africans they can’t have electricity and economic development - except what can be produced with some wind turbines or little solar panels - is immoral. It is a crime against humanity.

The other reason the green energy bubble is bursting is the misguided theory that renewables will soon be able to compete with coal and gas, because coal and gas will become more and more expensive. That is how as the theory goes. But this overlooks the ingenuity of the free markets in developing new technologies—the very type of new technologies that this bill actually retards. In the last couple of years, we have seen the price of coal fall from a high of $140 per tonne down to, today, around $55 per tonne. Gas, back in 2008, was $125 per kilojoule; today, the price of gas has fallen to less than $25. So our conventional production of electricity should be getting cheaper. So it is no surprise that we have seen the failure of billions of dollars wasted on green energy subsidies that not only increase our power costs but also do absolutely nothing to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide.

An article titled 'Perfect storm hits green energy stocks' recently reported that 10 wind and solar energy equipment manufacturers in China, India, Europe and the USA have seen their share prices collapse by 86 to 98 per cent since 2008. That is why this scheme is destined to fail. But there is perhaps one thing that we could invest this money in. Perhaps this fund could buy 1,000 pairs of $2-pliers and send them off to every morgue in the country. The climate change commissioner, Professor Flannery, following his expertise in predicting endless drought, now wants undertakers to pull the fillings from dead people. He said the solution for undertakers was to remove them, adding, 'You just need a set of pliers.' It is a $2 solution.

This bill is a tragedy and a train wreck waiting to happen. The ultimate victims will be the ordinary working people of this country. (Time expired)