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Thursday, 16 February 2012
Page: 1715


Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (12:14): I welcome the interjections from the good member for Banks. I rise to speak on the appropriation bills Nos 3 and 4. What is most significant about these bills is what is not in them. Last year I had the privilege of attending the National Disability Awards ceremony in the Great Hall of our federal parliament. It was a truly inspirational night to celebrate the achievements of those who fight daily to overcome disabilities and to recognise the struggles of their carers. During the night the Prime Minister waltzed in and gave a speech. These are some of her words:

…in the final analysis, the disability support system in Australia needs more than tweaking at the edges. It is a system that no longer adequately serves our community. A system that has been characterised as:

Unfair.

Underfunded.

Fragmented.

Inefficient.

Not the kind of system we would wish for ourselves or those who are dear to us.

…   …   …

Certainly your pleas fell on stony ground for many thankless years.

That happened, I think, because disability confronts us with our own worst fears and how easily fate could separate us from our easy, comfortable certainties.

…   …   …

… too many generations of parents have gone to their graves not knowing what the future held for their child with disability as they grew to middle age.

So I say this as your Prime Minister tonight: Not another generation will face that agonising choice.

…   …   …

Let there be no mistake. The decision I announced in August is a not just a preliminary hint or an aspiration.

It is the green light for a National Disability Insurance Scheme in this country.

…   …   …

The time for words is over. The time for action has come. We will get this thing done.

…   …   …

… the NDIS … will be a defining achievement of this term of government …

Naturally such an ironclad commitment to make the National Disability Insurance Scheme the defining achievement of this term of government was met with rousing applause. The Prime Minister left the stage to the cheers of hundreds of disabled Australians and their carers, not only those gathered in the room that night but also those thousands listening in their lounges.

The Productivity Commission has put the price tag of the National Disability Insurance Scheme at $6.5 billion. Given the Prime Minister's unambiguous words:

… The time for action has come. We will get this thing done.

…   …   …

… the NDIS … will be a defining achievement of this term of government …

I am sure that everyone who was listening to the Prime Minister's words that night would have left with the impression that the funds for the NDIS had been secured. But less than two weeks later, when the forward estimates were released, it was revealed there was not one single cent, not one solitary brass razoo, that had been set aside to cover the cost of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

It is one thing to mislead the Australian public on the carbon tax. It is one thing to mislead them on maintaining the health insurance rebate or to promise cash for clunkers or to promise the East Timor solution et cetera. It is one thing to shaft the good member for Denison, to mislead him on pokies reform and then leave him hanging out to dry when he is no longer needed. But to stand up at the National Disability Awards night, in front of a room full of disabled people and their carers, and to promise in regard to the $6½ billion NDIS that 'the time for action has come', the 'NDIS will be a defining achievement of this term of government' and 'we will get this done' when not a single cent has been allocated in the forward estimates makes the Prime Minister's statement nothing more than a cruel hoax upon the most vulnerable members of our society. This was a most shameful deception, 100 times worse than the broken promise on a carbon tax. Shame, Prime Minister, shame.

Mr Melham: What's your leader's position?

Mr CRAIG KELLY: If the Prime Minister were being honest and if the member for Banks were being honest, she would have stood up at the National Disability Awards and simply said sorry to our nation's disabled and their carers. Sorry that her government has engaged in such wasteful and reckless expenditure that it has pushed the goals of the NDIS further and further away. Sorry that her government has made so many expensive policy blunders. Sorry that the Rudd and Gillard regimes have not only frittered away the $40 billion in the bank they inherited from the Howard government but also run up $140 billion on the national credit card, and that does not even count the NBN. Sorry that, as a nation, we now need to find every year $6.5 billion to pay the interest bill on the national credit card, year after year, until we start paying this debt down—coincidentally, the very same amount as the $6.5 billion annually we need to fund the NDIS. And sorry that her government has not allocated a Jatz cracker for the NDIS in the forward estimates, and they do not have a clue how they are going to find this money in the future. But, instead of the truth, we had the Prime Minister engaging in a cruel hoax upon the most vulnerable members of our society.

While this government has not been able to find a single cent of new money to start to pay for the costs of the NDIS, let's have a look at what this government thinks is a greater priority. This week, under questioning in Senate estimates, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency let it slip that hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars are being used to indoctrinate toddlers on the benefits of the glorious carbon tax revolution—money to brainwash toddlers to support the carbon tax, but not a single cent to fund the NDIS. Now we have the Labor government spending $11 billion of taxpayers' money for an advertising campaign to justify its broken promises on the health insurance rebate, but not one cent to fund the NDIS. Then there was money for the 20-page propaganda booklet mailed to 9.8 million households back in August last year at a cost of $4.2 billion, simply to peddle Labor's carbon tax and the global warming theory, which the Auditor-General found contained facts which were not properly sourced and had no less than seven breaches of financial management regulations. But, still, there was not one cent to fund the NDIS.

Then there is the $3.9 billion—that is 'B' for billion—price tag that we have for the Labor government reversing the border protection measures of the Howard government, but, still, not one cent to fund the NDIS. Then there were the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the so-called set-top box program, which looks like it will cost an average of $698 for each set-top box they have given away when you can buy the same thing at Kmart for 19 bucks, but, still, they cannot find one cent to fund the NDIS. I could go on all day about the appalling waste and the things that this government has been able to find money for when they still cannot find one cent to fund the NDIS.

Perhaps the most telling example of the priority that this government has given to the NDIS is the millions that they are now spending on something called the Flannery Centre, named after the bloke who claimed that Brisbane would never again have dam-filling rains because global warming had made the soil so hot that 'even the rain that falls isn't going to fill our dams and river systems'. The Flannery Centre is being built in Bathurst. You would think it would be a good name for a comedy club. Its website claims that, once finished, it will provide 'training and education about sustainability', 'a community response to climate change and sustainability', and 'clarity about the issues we face'. When there is no money to fund the NDIS, we have at taxpayers' expense the Flannery Centre, providing to the good citizens of Bathurst hours of training on how to compost and build worm farms. That is the priority of this government. We have the Flannery Centre's claim that it will provide 'clarity about the issues we face'. This appears to simply be code for supporting the carbon tax.

I wonder if the taxpayer funded Flannery Centre, in providing clarity about the issues we face, is going to tell the truth about the latest measurement of average global temperatures, measured by satellite. As for January 2012, the last month, it recorded that average global temperatures were the same as they were 32 years ago. The IPCC predictions—their prophecies—on warming are simply not coming true. As for the Flannery Centre wanting to provide clarity about the issues we face, perhaps it should detail the environmental damage done by hopelessly inefficient wind farms, which are doing nothing other than driving up the cost of electricity in Australia faster than anywhere else in the developed world. The American government estimated that in 2009 wind turbines alone had been responsible for the deaths of 440,000 birds, including golden eagles, swans and geese, that had either been decapitated or had their bodies smashed by the blades. The vice-president of the American Bird Conservancy, a not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to conserve native birds, said:

Bird deaths from wind power are the new inconvenient truth. The total number of birds killed and the amount of bird habitat lost will dramatically increase as wind power build-out continues across the country in a rush to meet federal renewable energy targets.

For some reason I think these facts will be missing from the Flannery Centre account.

If the Flannery Centre would like to provide clarity about the issues we face, perhaps it will highlight the delusions of Professor David Viner, a senior research scientist at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, who 12 years ago claimed that within a few years winter snowfall would become 'a very rare and exciting event'. Just look at the weather in Europe last week. Many towns in Europe recorded their coldest temperatures since records started 100 years ago. The record cold weather in Europe has killed more than 400 people—frozen to death—and caused thousands more to seek medical help for frostbite and hypothermia. Even the canals in Venice have frozen. But it is not only in Europe; it is right across the world. In Seoul, Korea, last week temperatures plunged to minus 17 degrees, the month's coldest temperature since 1957. In Alaska in January they recorded their coldest ever month on record. On 12 January this year even Canberra recorded its lowest January temperature ever, beating the previous record low set back in 1956.

These are facts that are unlikely to be told by the Flannery Centre. These facts are hardly consistent with the dangerous global warming theory. If the Flannery Centre really wants to provide clarity about the issues that we face, perhaps it could print up copies of the 470-page official government report entitled Transport energy futures: long-term oil supply trends and projections. In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four the totalitarian government used memory holes to make politically inconvenient documents and records disappear. That is exactly what has happened to report 117. Fortunately we were able to find a copy of this official Australian government report on the website of a private French citizen. This report warns that Australia's liquid fuels, which we need to run our cars, trucks, farm equipment and planes, the very lifeblood or our economy, are running out. The report warns that we have three options:

1. Oil is replaced with other (equally rich and abundant) energy sources (opening the whole debate about alternative fuel sources, e.g. gas-to-liquids, coal-to-liquids, electricity, hydrogen).

2. Improved energy efficiency results in energy use per unit of GDP declining markedly to match the shortfall—

the third option is the worst of all and the one the government seems intent on—

3. GDP declines to match the shortfall.

With our declining oil supplies we have to look at the problems this is going to cause in the future.

I go firstly to our trade deficit. By 2015, in less than three years time, because of declining oil supplies here in Australia and our growing reliance on imports, we will have to find at least an extra $15 billion a year to purchase oil from overseas. This threatens to cause a massive blow-out in our trade deficit. The second problem is that we are now in breach of our International Energy Agency agreements. Under these international agreements Australia is required to maintain a strategic petroleum reserve equivalent to 90 days of last year's net oil imports. The purpose of this is to provide economic and national security during an energy crisis, a wise insurance policy against a complete economic meltdown caused by a disruption in our liquid fuel supplies. In the past, with our supplies from Bass Strait, we have been able meet this. We no longer do. In fact, at current prices we would need to spend $300 million to buy the fuel to meet our obligations and by 2015 this sum will blow out to $1.5 billion and will grow from there every year. That is just to buy the oil, not to store it or provide the holding facilities. (Time expired)

Debate adjourned.