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Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Page: 11369


Mr HAASE (Durack) (12:31): In light of the comments from the previous speaker, the member for Lingiari, I would remind him and the remainder of the House that the most abysmal mistruths uttered in this place have been from the Prime Minister in relation to the fact that there would not be a carbon tax under a government she leads. Today I rise to speak on the Clean Energy Bill 2011 and related bills. These bills, I might add, have been rushed through parliament by a Labor led, Green endorsed government, a government which quite obviously has no sense of moral obligation to the people of Australia. So rushed and cloaked in secrecy is the detail of the worst tax hit Australians will suffer in their lives that the government only released updated modelling on the impact of a carbon tax just minutes before the commencement of the joint select committee inquiry into the government's carbon tax bills.

The Australian public have been misled time and time again by the leader of this government. I am afraid the position of Prime Minister in Australia has been tarnished. Irreparable damage has been done and future Prime Ministers of Australia will bear a tainted reputation based on the legacy of the current leadership. The Prime Minister of Australia once commanded respect from children and adults alike, similar to the old-fashioned policeman. I am sorry to say that that respect is long gone and with it goes another Australian tradition, that of respect for authority. It seems to me that, with the Greens in bed with the government, a lot of Australian traditions are being thrown out the door, all for the sake of vocal minorities and to the detriment of the majority.

We heard from the Prime Minister that there would be no carbon tax under the government she leads. Then in contrast we heard from the same Prime Minister the following:

The best way is to make polluters pay by putting a price on carbon. So that is the policy of the government I lead. And that is the plan which is before the House now. … Today we move from words to deeds. This parliament is going to get this done. There will be a price on carbon from 1 July 2012.

Where is the real Julia? Who is the real Julia? Australians deserve to know which Julia we are dealing with and when. This carbon tax is toxic and this government is toxic. As reported in the Adelaide Advertiser on 11 July this year:

People remain sceptical about the Government's ability to administer such a complicated plan which involves a myriad of reforms and assistance programs.

The Government does not have a good track record of administering such programs—just witness the Building the Education Revolution and the home-insulation program.

It goes on:

Many of them will feel that this scheme will be little more than a huge washing machine where money swirls around and around … The Government's figures on how much the scheme will cost and how the compensation package will leave households better off appear to be a little rubbery …

These, colleagues, are the sentiments of constituents right across Australia, not just in Adelaide, not just in the cities. This is what an entire nation is saying. In the past month I have attended many events in my electorate of Durack. At the Mingenew field day I was accosted by rusted-on Labor voters. I have been in this game a long time, and at no other time during my political career have I been accosted by such rusted-on Labor voters wanting to shake my hand, begging me to change the government, begging me to stop the tax. It is my duty to all constituents in Durack, those that voted for me and those that did not—although those that did not at the last election may do so at the next—to pass on to the House the messages I received. I must pass these messages to the Prime Minister via the House because the Prime Minister will not reply to my correspondence. On 8 July 2011, I sent a letter to the Prime Minister requesting her to visit Durack to explain the carbon tax. I even gave her a list of 25 towns to choose from. As yet I have had no reply. It is hard to fathom how the powerhouse of the nation, Durack, is not deemed to be worth a scratch on the soles of the shiny leather shoes of Ms Gillard. It is further evidence of a government not listening to the people. The message to the Prime Minister, from the people of Durack, is this: this country has gone to rack and ruin. Have an election. Madam Deputy Speaker, that is the message in general context; it is not verbatim. I would have suffered your admonishment had I delivered it verbatim.

I digress. I stand here today to address the Clean Energy Bill 2011 and in particular the dire effects it will have on Australian industry. An example of an industry most disastrously affected is the Australian lime industry. Together the Australian lime industry production accounts for 75 per cent of the 2.1 million tonnes of the Australian demand for lime each year. The industry operates 18 facilities across all states and the Northern Territory, largely in regional areas. Lime is a versatile product that is extensively used in a range of applications. It is used in the resources industry for extracting metal ores and for producing soda ash. It is used in agriculture as a soil conditioner. It is used in the construction industry, of course, in cement;. It is used for environmental applications to stabilise hazardous landfill and neutralise acidic wastewater. It is used2 to filter waste air streams and to purify drinking water. Lime production includes technically sophisticated high-temperature processing in kilns from selected sources of limestone. Australian lime production brings world-class technology and service industry support and offers employment in a wide range of specialised skills for operators, engineers, scientists, management and all business disciplines. The industry is working towards greater sustainability practices which share its regional industry synergies with local community issues such as the management of waste oil and other materials that the lime industry utilises as alternative fuels and raw materials.

As an industry that is emissions intensive and trade exposed, it is important that clean energy future legislation gives certainty by including transparent guidance and accountability. Available resources of limestone and energy in Australia lead to the manufacturing of lime being suited to the economy. Loss of lime manufacturing to offshore production would result in carbon leakage and an increase in global greenhouse gas.

We know that the USA, Canada and Japan have postponed their carbon pricing schemes. We also know that China and India's emissions will continue to grow significantly, despite their greenhouse gas efficiency improving, due to the Kyoto protocol Annex I countries contributing technology and funds to carbon efficiency projects. We also know that a starting price of $23 per tonne of greenhouse gases is 50 per cent above the world trading price of $15 a tonne. It is a fact that the 2020 environmental benefit objective will not be met by pricing carbon.

Treasury modelling shows that the clean energy future addresses only 38 per cent of Australia's target of a five per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020, leaving 62 per cent to be sourced from purchasing international permits. Madam Deputy Speaker Bird, I will repeat that: it is a fact that the 2020 environmental benefit objective will not be met by pricing carbon. Treasury modelling shows that the clean energy future addresses only 38 per cent of Australia's target of a five per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020, leaving 62 per cent to be sourced from purchasing international permits. That equates in 2010 dollar terms to a cost of $57 billion in 2050 and a staggering cumulative figure of $650 billion by 2050. Billions upon billions of Australian taxpayers' dollars will be going into the pockets of overseas carbon credit traders. Billions upon billions of our dollars are going to schemes with all the potential to be as reliable as the Nigerian tax schemes. The plan is riddled with loopholes and is open to rorting to an extent never before seen in Australia. Norway, hardly a Third World country, has been found to be implicated in a rorted $5 billion European scheme. This carbon tax strategy will lead to the same thing happening in Australia, only more frequently.

These bills are complex and Australians are being duped. The average constituent does not understand the carbon tax, but they do understand the consequences—no worldwide reduction in emissions and a whole lot of pain for every man, woman and child in Australia. The Centre for International Economics, in July 2011, revealed that the European Union emissions trading scheme, in its first six years, collected $4.9 billion. Treasury modelling of the Australian clean energy future scheme reveals that, in the first six years, it will raise $71 billion. This scheme will be the most costly carbon scheme in the world.

The clean energy future policy should not apply to process emissions. As such, it should not apply to the production of lime. That clean energy future will cover greenhouse gas emissions from process sources in the production of lime. Sixty per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in lime production are created in the cracking of the raw materials. These emissions do not have any relevance to energy consumption or energy efficiency. Applying a price to these emissions can only be described as a tax which cannot be abated by a price on carbon emissions.

The assistance program fails to give adequate support to the lime industry as allocated permits are only applied to a portion of the process for lime manufacturing and cover only 94.5 per cent of that portion of the process for the first year, declining a further 1.3 per cent each year thereafter. The clean energy future is described in three stages to be implemented over seven years. In the first three, comprehensive reviews by the Productivity Commission will influence the clean energy future directions and conditions. This places emissions intensive and trade exposed industries, with no more than five years of assistance certainty, with even less certainty in the scope of the overall scheme. The lime industry is capital intensive. It has long associations with its location and technology. Three- to five-year horizons of short-term planning are insufficient for business investment certainty. The clean energy future legislation, in draft and without regulations nine months before the program starts, has seriously jeopardised 2012 budgets for the industry and gives no time for systems to be implemented to manage the complexity and impact of the change. Lime manufacturing is imperative to the Australian resource future, which is of course Australia's economic future. The cost of emissions trading to the production of lime will cause a significant increase to the price of the volumes utilised in the manufacture of internationally traded products and will affect the viability of downstream industries. Australian lime production could be replaced with imported product, effectively shutting production and curbing growth of a viable Australian manufacturing sector—effectively putting one more nail in the coffin of our grandchildren's future.

Labor governments do not hesitate to trash our grandchildren's future. They appear to have a policy of 'squander the future today and to hell with tomorrow'. Capital investment in lime processing will go overseas. The best we can hope for is increasing greenhouse emissions due to the transportation of lime to overseas kilns and an enormous increase in the cost of every cement content product. Members opposite would do well to contemplate the cement content of civil projects and building construction in their own electorates and the consequent reaction of their constituents to this unnecessary Labor government inflicted price hike. They say that every cloud has a silver lining. It is hard to find in this case, but at least Labor members who lose their seats at the next election will know why.

The question is not whether there is such a thing as climate change. The question is: will Australia ever recover from the tax on weather? Will the lime industry of Australia be another statistical lemon in this Labor government's basket of rotten fruit? I absolutely oppose these bills.