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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 10060


Dr MIKE KELLY (Eden-MonaroParliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (13:31): What a tremendous privilege it is to be here today to speak on the clean energy legislation in this endgame—one last opportunity to reach out to the members opposite and ask them to participate in the greatest challenge this nation faces. How poignant and how true were the words of the Prime Minister when she said that this was where 'the judgment of history' will begin. The names will be recorded in this vote. The names will be recorded. At this time, I think of one great historical figure, a hero of mine, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose famous words have echoed down the generations:

… there is nothing to fear but fear itself …

Then I think of the Leader of the Opposition, whose line is 'fear everything' and 'I am fear itself', and I ask myself: who is it that will be remembered in history? Whose legacy will be appreciated by subsequent generations? I am so proud to stand with my brothers and sisters on this side of the chamber and I say: go tell the Spartans that there were 103 men and women on this side who stood shoulder to shoulder, with courage and commitment, in the face of political risk to deliver this legislation for the future of our country and our kids. But I believe that today the bell will start tolling not for us but for the Leader of the Opposition. Every day from now until the 2013 election, we will see the clock ticking on the final political demise of the Leader of the Opposition as he is exposed systematically as a fraud.

There are some things I have heard in the chamber today that need addressing, such as the comments by the member for Goldstein. Who could believe that he could stand there and say that this is a 'socialistic' measure as opposed to the coalition's 'inaction plan'! Their plan is a command economy approach, which is a back the winners, make the taxpayers pay approach—$1,300 added to the taxpayer's annual bill through their plan. There is the ludicrous tree-planting scheme: they would have to plant 28 million hectares of Australia to get to where they need to be—the 'tree in every lounge room' plan. How ludicrous an approach, when all those great socialist figures around the world, like Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, David Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and, of course, John Key have all said, 'No, let's go with a market based approach'! Well, where are our free marketeers? Where are you at this time to stand up for the strengths of a market approach that everybody says is the most efficient, productive way to tackle this challenge? The OECD, the Productivity Commission, Shergold, Garnaut—all of them are lining up to say, 'This is the way to do it.' I know that at least half of the members over that side would give their eyeteeth to line up behind this legislation. I know that the member for Wentworth is out there chewing over this right now, chewing over his conscience—a man who has stood his ground previously, a man who is concerned about his legacy now and knows what the risks are.

When I travel around my electorate—and I have done eight forums on this issue now—we do not talk about the debate on climate science. We talk about why this legislation is a good reform measure from the point of view of dealing with the cost-of-living challenges for our low- and middle-income earners, dealing with tax reform and, yes, dealing with creating the new economy that this country needs to meet its energy generation challenges and also to take advantage of the opportunities of the new economy. During the dark Howard years, when this country slipped backwards in this space, we saw a shameful brain drain, with the people who developed expertise in this area disappearing to the United States and China. Now, with these measures, we have the wherewithal—through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation with its $10 billion, the clean energy technology aspect of the scheme with its $1.2 billion—to generate innovation and get behind the research, development and exploitation that have so often been missing in creating a more diverse economy than we have at this point.

We talk about the exposure of this economy to the two-speed or patchwork problems of the mining boom. Well, this is one of the ways that we can get around that problem, because these are the technologies, this is the innovation, that the world is hungry for. Why would we deny our young people the career opportunities here in Australia? Why would we not exploit that hunger for the benefit of the planet?

We know that there has been a lot of distortion of the facts and figures here, but the modelling has demonstrated that there will be 1.6 million new jobs. In my own region, in Eden-Monaro, we know there will be 2,300 new jobs. The Frontier Economics survey that the New South Wales government distorted proves that south-east New South Wales is going to be in the top four areas of this country to benefit from this scheme. We know that the regional and rural areas of this country will be the ones to benefit. That is why it is so shameful to see the Leader of the Nationals stand up here and argue against this, as he argued against the Carbon Farming Initiative, an initiative supported by the National Farmers Federation that the farmers in my electorate are reaching out for. When Ross Garnaut came to Cooma the other day, 300 farmers turned out. My Monaro Farming Systems people and my Bega Cheese farmers are all hungry to take advantage of this scheme, which will allow them to diversify their income and achieve productivity benefits. They were already going down the road of some of these sequestration and other techniques and now they will be able to make an income out of that as well. But, no, the Leader of the Nationals would deny them that opportunity. Where is his concern for rural and regional Australia when we know that groups like the Investor Group on Climate Change Australia/New Zealand have $600 billion worth of investment dollars waiting to be unleashed? Most of that money is going to land in rural and regional Australia. But, no, the Leader of the Nationals would deny us that opportunity.

The most shameful aspect of this is the deception, the distortion and the denial that we have seen demonstrated by the coalition. You do not have to take my word for it because there are a good serious journalists out there who are recording this and zeroing in on the Leader of the Opposition. For example, Ross Gittins, in the Sydney Morning Herald, back in May, wrote:

I don't like using the L-word, but Tony Abbott is setting new lows in the lightness with which he plays with the truth. He blatantly works both sides of the street, nodding happily in the company of climate-change deniers, but in more intellectually respectable company professing belief in human-caused global warming, his commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 and the efficacy of his no-offence policies to achieve it.

He grossly exaggerates the costs involved in a carbon tax, telling business audiences they will have to pay the lot and be destroyed by it, while telling the punters business will pass all the costs on to them. He forgets to mention that most of the proceeds from the tax will be returned as compensation.

He repeats the half-truth that nothing we could do by ourselves would reduce global emissions, while failing to correct the punters' ignorant belief that Australia is the only country contemplating action.

We have had many members in this chamber point out what action is going on around the world at the moment—in China, in Korea, in Japan, in California. We have had Linda Adams from California here this week, the eighth largest economy in the world. They will link their scheme to Europe. New Zealand will link with us and to a scheme in Asia which we can link to Europe and eventually to China, who will introduce a scheme by 2015 along with us.

We have also seen some more reporting recently. A headline in the Sydney Morning Herald on 13 September read 'Coalition distorts facts in campaign on pollution charge'. Their materials that have been released, their lines in fighting this, contain so many distortions and lies that it is hard to count them up. One in particular that has been exposed is the claim that $3.5 billion a year in taxpayers' dollars will go to overseas trading systems. That Labor proposes to allow polluting businesses to buy permits overseas is true, but of course that will be at the expense of those who purchase those permits and not taxpayers. So, once again, the coalition are exposed as frauds in that claim.

Today the Australian Financial Review reports 'Abbott's three degrees of dumbness'. It talks about his mistake in dealing with this debate yesterday—the new lows to which he is taking not only this country but this chamber in this debate and the decorum he shows in this chamber when it deals with serious issues. He was exposed not only as a fraud but also as someone who demeans this institution. Geoff Kitney said:

Yesterday he overstepped. The empty benches looked like a prank than a protest, a piece of childishness which sent the wrong signal about the coalition's attitude to the Parliament and the climate change issue.

But, unfortunately, he is not alone in his deceptions. He has been joined in his crusade against action on climate change by the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Barry O'Farrell, who blatantly went out there and distorted the Frontier Economics study the New South Wales government produced. He was called on it by Professor John Quiggin, who this year won the Distinguished Fellow Award from the Economic Society of Australia at the University of Queensland. He said:

The New South Wales government has cherry-picked all the scariest possible numbers in a way that is totally misleading and absolutely dishonest.

That is the way Mr O'Farrell is approaching it. Professor Quiggin also had an article in the Sydney Morning Herald where he went on to elaborate on that, saying:

… Frontier Economics, who say they used the same model as the Commonwealth, with almost identical inputs. As a result Frontier concludes, "At an aggregate level, the modelling results in this report are broadly consistent with the Commonwealth Treasury modelling."

How can this be? The answer is that the NSW government engaged in an exercise in misleading advertising that would make even the most shonky of infomercial vendors blush.

           …

The most common dishonest use is to report only the bad news about industries that will grow more slowly, and ignore the good news … As the Herald's Matt Wade reported on Saturday, the Frontier modelling exercise forecast benefits for industries including financial services and communications in which Sydney is particularly strong …

The reality is that the carbon price is a modest reform, about one quarter the size of the GST. Except for directly affected sectors such as electricity generation, the impact will be undetectable against a background of substantial volatility around a long-run growth trend. This was forcefully illustrated by the news that Bluescope Steel is to shed … jobs, casualties of the high Australian dollar.

Now with our industry assistance package there, they of course welcome our measures. That is John Quiggin.

Today I noticed under the story above where it talks about the 'Liberals shy off costing pledge', which was another shameful exercise in obfuscation in this chamber, an article by Michaela Whitbourn titled 'How to cook up a carbon tax story', again referring to the distortions by Premier O'Farrell. He was shopping around. His bureaucrats were looking to line up behind Tony Abbott, cherry-pick figures where they could, distort or attempt to manipulate information. The Department of Transport, unfortunately though, had already come to a conclusion which completely contradicted his own. The transport department said that the government carbon tax would have 'no measurable effect' on transport choices and would increase prices by less than one per cent. But, in the face of that advice and in distortion of the true situation of that advice he received, he stated that the tax would 'increase passenger fares by up to 3.6 per cent'—a blatant misrepresentation and total dishonesty on the part of the Premier of New South Wales. So we have a clear trend here and a clear record of the coalition and their state allies lining up to try to deceive the people of this country. That decision will be revealed—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. Peter Slipper ): Order! It being 1.45 pm, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 43. The debate may be resumed at a later hour and the honourable member will have an opportunity to continue his contribution.