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Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Page: 10770


Mr SIMPKINS (Cowan) (12:03): The great thing about being on this side of the House is that we still have our integrity. As we know, almost everyone in this House at the last election promised that there would be no carbon tax. I can understand there are people on the other side that are pretty glad that the Prime Minister said, with six days to go before the last election, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' Clearly, when the polling told her to make that promise she helped some of her colleagues hold their seats. I suggest that the members for Corangamite, Deakin, Greenway, Robertson, Lindsay, Moreton and Banks, all on a 1.5 per cent majority or less, are all very grateful for the pre-election Labor policy of no carbon tax, yet it appears they now have no problem at all with this carbon tax legislation that they stood against before.

As I said, it does feel pretty good to have a great degree of integrity. I make that claim despite the hero worship effort on the ABC program last night making out the Labor government, the Prime Minister and the highly funded supporters and taxpayer funded proponents of the carbon tax as the persecuted yet heroic figures in this debate. Who said the ABC does not create good fiction? Yet, as is so often the case, the interests and concerns of the people of this nation are neglected in such programs. The people of Australia are treated as stupid when they are not. They are portrayed as easily led when they are critical and savvy about the lines they are being fed by this government. Whether it is in the headlines, programs or alleged balanced critiques, normally we just see support for the government or the Greens and never is a hard question asked of this government.

When we think back to the last parliament, I do not think there was ever an end to the Labor Party claiming a mandate for this or that item of legislation. It was endless. Each one was cited as the No. 1 priority for the Rudd government. In this debate, and also with the government's latest border control failure, the government clearly has no mandate. Now the language changes from a claim for a mandate to instead a lecture in the Prime Minister's usual condescending style about being on the wrong side of history and the national interest.

Putting aside the deception and political opportunism of the Labor Party that no longer knows where it is, where it is going or even where it came from, I wish to speak to these clean energy bills. This legislation is nothing more than a tax designed to generate money and redistribute it. It will not change global temperatures, it will not save the world and it is built on statements and exaggerations devoid of relevant facts. As the federal MP for Cowan, I am very pleased to have two clear thinkers on the subject of anthropogenic global warming as my constituents. I refer to Joanne Nova and David Evans, being two people that have assisted in helping Australians understand the reality of the debate. I thank them for their courageous and constructive contribution to the debate at a time when the Labor government can only call any that question the theory by cheap names. Indeed, we are used to getting nothing but assertions and unproven claims from those that promote the theory of human induced climate change. The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency keeps telling us that the time for discussion and debate is over and that the time for action is now. I say that the debate is still in progress and subscribers to the human induced climate change theory are in fact rapidly declining in numbers.

Clearly I am not a true believer because I have read into the subject and therefore wish to take this opportunity today to explode some myths around the subject. Is CO2, carbon dioxide, the great evil and upward forcer of global temperatures that the government assures us that it is? If it were, why is it that CO2 in the atmosphere increases some 800 years after the rise in temperature? Why is it that CO2 has continued to rise in the last 10 years but global temperatures have not risen? Furthermore, another important element in the human induced global warming theory is that there must actually be a tell-tale sign 10 kilometres above the tropics. The trouble is that this hot spot does not exist. Weather balloons could not even find such a sign when there was warming between 1979 and 1999. If that hot spot does not exist, then this means that the temperature increases were not caused by greenhouse gases. Some say that the researchers Sherwood and Santer found the hot spot, but this is not true. Santer said he thought it may be hidden, but did not find it. Sherwood said that the thermometer should be ignored in favour of wind gauges.

Leaving aside these critical points, what about the effect of CO2 on actually increasing temperature? It looks a little scary when you think that the first 20 parts per million of CO2 causes an increase in temperature of just over 1.5 per cent. That sounds pretty worrying, yet the next 20 parts per million would add less than 0.4 per cent in temperature. What we should concern ourselves with are the sorts of CO2 levels that we have now, because so often we hear of alarming claims of dangerous climate change linked to 385 parts per million, 295 parts per million or 410 parts per million. We hear of tipping points et cetera. That is one of the classic claims. But what does happen when there are 380 parts per million or 400 parts per million in the atmosphere? The difference is so small that it is in the area of 0.02 per cent increase in temperature change and it is therefore slowing.

Even if this carbon tax achieves a reduction in emissions, which it does not, or a reduction in world CO2 levels, which it will not, is a $9 billion tax really worth pursuing when it does not do anything for the environment? What makes it even more pointless is the difference in warming caused by CO2 between 385 parts per million and 395 parts per million is negligible. The reality is that this carbon tax is nothing but a tax. It is not an environmental policy. It has only ever been a means of raising funds so that this government can either hand it out here or, worst of all, send the money offshore. As Tim Flannery, the government's climate change commissioner, who in many ways is the chief engineer aboard the climate change gravy train, says:

If we cut emissions today, global temperatures are not likely to drop for about a thousand years.

That really says it all.

Perhaps not all Australians are fully aware of these matters, but I can assure the government that the families that this Labor government have forsaken are not stupid. The government may try to sell them lines in their taxpayer funded advertising campaigns but they remain smart, because they know what is a tax and they know what a tax does to the cost of living. They know that a tax that keeps going up will ensure their costs of living keep going up as well. They know that this Labor tax represents $9 billion a year in more taxes. They know that in the first year their electricity prices will rise by some 10 per cent and their gas prices will rise by nine per cent, that there will be higher marginal tax rates for low- and middle-income earners and that there will be a $4.3 billion hit on the budget bottom line.

The government wants to make people think that they will not be worse off because they will be compensated for higher costs. The longer this fiasco of a tax goes on the greater the costs will be, particularly when the Labor partners, the Greens, talk about a $40 or even a $100 a tonne price for carbon. Compensation can never keep up, particularly when the productivity and the competitive advantages of this country are being attacked by the same tax. So the people will be more and more negatively impacted by this tax.

What surprises me is that the minority groups in Australia believe that the Australian people can be fooled by exaggerated claims and crude name-calling such as 'denier' or 'sceptic'. The minority groups I refer to include supporters of the Labor Party, Green party zealots and those whose jobs depend on the theory of anthropogenic global warming, or human induced global warming. It is getting pretty hard to convince an increasingly suspicious population as they see the end to the drought and the lack of extreme weather conditions here and elsewhere around the world. Similarly, the need for productivity- and confidence-destroying taxation is being questioned as the retail, housing and manufacturing sectors in this country are going through intense pain. The retail, housing and manufacturing sectors in China are not going through this pain. With this carbon tax those sectors will not be worried at all.

Since the year 2000 Chinese CO2 emissions have risen by 171 per cent and will rise by 500 per cent by 2020. Indian emissions will rise by 350 per cent. We know that no other nation is bringing in an economy-wide carbon tax or an emissions-trading scheme. The much lauded European ETS system raises just $500 million per year, compared to the $9 billion that this Labor-Green carbon tax will raise, with certain industries in Europe not even included by being given free emission permits.

We know that this postelection policy leads to the most comprehensive carbon tax in the world, the most damaging economic manoeuvre in the world and the most deceitful political strategy that this country has seen. With this government's plan, emissions will increase from 2012 to 2020 from 578 million tonnes to 620 million tonnes. So much of the carbon tax revenue will just be shipped overseas to carbon credit traders, who are just waiting for their next quick buck. This government just wants to transfer the wealth of this country in the form of $3.5 billion per year. Why would this government just ship the money produced by Australians overseas to highly questionable market schemes that have already been subject to as much as $5 billion in fraudulent transactions?

This government's policy is failure in motion. Worse than that, it is a sell-out of the national interest. This is a supertax, presiding over the destruction of Australian industries and jobs, whilst sending our national wealth overseas and without any climate modification. So far in my speech today I have shown why this should be rejected scientifically and why it should be rejected economically. In the years ahead Australians will want to know why this government sold out our nation and why they worked with vested interests to hurt the national interest.

I have spoken before on the vested interests that work very hard to get this carbon tax through this place and to further the theory of human induced global warming. They are well funded and they are dedicated to the cause, as I suppose you would be if your job depended on only one side of an argument being advanced. The reality is that when the nexus between CO2 and temperature rises is broken—and that is coming soon—then all those whose research jobs, projects, academic chairs and associated positions depend on that nexus will be in trouble. It is little wonder they are trying so hard to get this legislation through.

I spoke earlier of chief climate commissioner Tim Flannery. He is just one among many now employed—and I use that term loosely—in the climate change industry. There are others who rely on the propagation of climate alarmism for their daily bread. The left-wing lobby group GetUp! and its director, Simon Sheikh, have raised the mindless repetition of buzzwords to an art form. Paul Keating used to say that the most dangerous place to stand was between a state Premier and a bucket of money. I venture to suggest that these days the most dangerous place to stand is between Simon Sheikh and a television camera.

GetUp! boldly professes to be committed to the pursuit of social justice, a nebulous concept which I have previously discussed at length in this House and which is at its core little more than a pretty name for old-fashioned socialist income redistribution. It is not surprising that the adherents of this doctrine are attracted to the carbon tax like moths to the flame.

GetUp! exhorts its members to 'take action' on climate change. So far as I have been able to ascertain, taking action amounts to little more than signing up to an email list, sending standard template emails to members of parliament and the media and, of course, making weekly donations to keep Mr Sheikh and his spin machine well oiled. The issues are barely touched upon. The facts are not addressed. The impact of this toxic tax on hardworking Australian families is all but ignored. Instead, GetUp! rolls out the likes of 'Carbon Cate Blanchett' to hector those already doing it tough about why they should pay more tax. They are more interested in symbolic gestures than they are in actually dealing with real issues. Small wonder that GetUp! finds a friend in the Gillard Labor government.

I note that last week we received so-called facts sheets from the 'Vested Interest Institute' or, as I should say, the Climate Institute. They are struggling against an increasingly critical Australian population that are no longer backing the cliche causes of global warming. In these facts sheets, they provided us with five so-called facts to oppose a specific myth in each case. I used to think that the Climate Institute was a highly sophisticated organisation, but they have not even understood the concerns of Australians. I really thought that something of the big issues would have been attacked in the pages they sent, but they are in fact just so far off the mark. The trouble with the Climate Institute is that by being on level 15 of 179 Elizabeth Street in Sydney, while they may have a magnificent view of Hyde Park to the east, they have their backs to the rest of Australia. These guys cannot see the realities of the suburbs and country Australia. They need to realise that if Australians have to feel the pain of higher prices, they want to know what change in the temperature will occur.

The Climate Institute do not get that Australians want to know that the competitive position of our industries will not be reduced compared to other countries that we compete with. They fail to address the job losses that face affected industries like manufacturing, aluminium, concrete and others. They even had a so-called fact sheet that suggested something I had never heard of before was a myth, that a pollution price means you do not need other clean energy measures. If the Climate Institute had talked of science, they may have been useful. If they had talked of maintaining the Australian standard of living, they may have been of value. If they had talked about no-one losing their job, then those in vulnerable sectors may have embraced what they said. If they had talked about temperatures coming down whilst Australia maintains its competitive position, then they would have made a reasonable case worthy of some consideration.

The reality is that the Climate Institute is as out of touch with the vast majority of Australians as are the Gillard government and the Greens. Australians are suspicious of taxes. If they are told of a tax they want to know that it will actually do something useful and not hurt them more than others. The problem for the government and for the myriad of vested interests is that the majority of Australians see a huge tax and no resulting change to world temperatures, but they do see the risks to their jobs and their lifestyles and standards of living. That is why the debate in Australia is being lost by the government. That is why they want to avoid at all cost taking this issue to the people. This tax will be all pain and no environmental gain, and Australians know it.

There is only one side that has a mandate to vote on this matter in this place. We always said that we were against this carbon tax. The government said before the election they were against it. Now they have turned their backs on the Australian people and it will come at their cost. (Time expired)