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Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Page: 4073

Senator WILLIAMS (6:34 PM) —I rise to talk on the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009 and related bills. Could I say, firstly, that carbon is not a pollutant. Carbon dioxide is an odourless, colourless, non-toxic gas. I want to make that quite clear. When we talk about carbon, remember that 18 per cent of your body weight is made up of carbon. Everything around us exists with carbon. Without carbon, we would not exist—CO2 is an odourless, colourless, non-toxic gas. When we inhale, Mr Acting Deputy President Bernardi, do you realise that we breathe in about 380 parts per million of carbon dioxide? When we exhale, we exhale 50,000 parts per million of carbon dioxide. I suppose that is an idea: the government could put a tax on breathing and they could call it the ‘breath tax’. Imagine the money they would raise from 21 million Australians breathing. Soil nutritionists refer to carbon as a cycle of life. That is exactly what it is. Without carbon in the soil nothing grows. We need carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is food for plants, crops, trees and all the things that grow by photosynthesis. Minister Wong prefers to refer to carbon dioxide as a pollutant. I disagree with that.

What is this whole debate about? What is this whole global issue of carbon dioxide about? It is about whether the increase of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is causing global warming. That is the debate. We know for sure that there is more carbon dioxide in the air now than there was, say, in 1750. Ice samples have proved that. We are running, I think, at about 380 parts per million now and back in 1750 it was around 280 parts per million. History also shows that we have had atmospheric levels of some 2,000 parts per million.

I want to look at a few things here. If the increase in carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is definitely causing temperatures to rise then one thing would be for sure: sea temperatures would be rising. Let us have a look at what Lord Monckton has said in his report, which happened to come across my desk:

Since 2003, some 3300 automated bathythermograph buoys have been deployed throughout the world’s oceans in the ARGO program.

Of course there are thermometers with them, measuring and recording the temperature of the ocean.

These buoys have shown no oceanic warming in the five years since they were deployed, contrary to model predictions that pronounced warming would occur. This result is highly significant, because it is the oceans, far more than the atmosphere, that are the real bell-wether of climatic change. The oceans, some 1100 times denser than the atmosphere, would be expected to take up at least 80% of the excess heat generated by anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions: yet, despite continuing rapid increases in emissions, the oceans are not warming at all, and may even be cooling a little.

Surely, with the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, if the theory is right the oceans would be warming. That is not an opinion; those are the tests from those 3,300 thermometers that have been out there since 2003, delivering results.

We would also expect that sea levels would rise. Let us face it: if the theory is that the globe is warming, the first thing we would see is sea levels rising. I would like to talk about a man by the name of Dr Nils-Axel Morner. He is a doctor from Stockholm University and he has been measuring sea levels for 35 years. He has not forecast what is going to happen in the future; he has been out there measuring them in places like the Maldives, which they say is one of the places in the world most threatened by sea level rises. He says the ‘claim that sea level is rising is a total fraud’, because they simply are not. They did rise a couple of centimetres over 100 years but then started to reduce their levels again. This is a very good point that Dr Morner makes: if sea levels are rising, the diameter of the earth would increase. He says:

… because if the radius of the Earth increases, because sea level is rising, then immediately the Earth’s rate of rotation would slow down.

That is a fact. I could give Senator O’Brien an example: when an ice skater is doing their performance and they have their hands out wide, when they bring them in they spin faster. It is a physical fact that if the global diameter is increasing it will not rotate as fast. That is not occurring. We are not being reduced to 20 hours a day. There is a second question on it.

Senator O’Brien —Might as well be, with the rate you blokes are going!

Senator Chris Evans —Is that an effect of daylight saving?

Senator WILLIAMS —I take Senator Evans’s interjection, but we will not get onto daylight saving, because that is a real issue that we who live away from the cities do not really enjoy.

I point to the IPCC. The IPCC has done its modelling on the expectation that the globe is warming and sea levels are rising, and that is simply wrong. The sea temperature is not rising, as those 3,300 thermometers have proved since 2003. The global diameter is not increasing. Let us go to the next thing: sea ice, of course. Let us have a look at the sea ice situation. Sea ice around Antarctica has been increasing at a rate of 100,000 square kilometres a decade since the 1970s, according to the British Antarctic Survey. Antarctica has 90 per cent of the world’s ice. While sea ice has been lost in western Antarctica and on the Antarctic Peninsula, sea ice cover over the Ross Sea has increased. So now we are getting the real facts and the truth about the ice. I am saying that there has been a lot of false information presented and the IPCC’s figures are being based on the modelling that CO2 will raise the temperature of the globe. That is where the figures come under question.

What is the government’s plan? The government is bringing in its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Part of that scheme is the emissions trading scheme, and the word ‘trading’ is what we in the Nationals are very afraid of, because when you get a trading scheme what do you have? You have screen jocks, people sitting in front of computers—buyers and sellers. I saw it for years with Australian dollar trading after it was floated. The screen jocks would be there, doing their job, taking their commissions, and the Australian dollar would be going in a very volatile fashion up and down a matter of cents a day as the traders came in buying and selling—and profiteering—on the dealing of the Australian dollar on the foreign exchange markets. Of course, the screen jocks were providing a service and taking their commissions. This word ‘trading’ is the real problem, as it goes in the plan the government is here to bring in.

The National Australia Bank has said that the price of carbon may trade as high as $100 a tonne. The government is obviously fearful of what it is going to trade at, because they have fixed it at $10 a tonne for the first year. We know the government has delayed the introduction of it. Their political plan would be to get an election out of the road before everyone starts losing their jobs. That is why they have delayed it. First it was that if we did not start it next year the world was going to disappear. All of a sudden we can delay it for 12 months and that is not a problem. They are saying, ‘We’ll just wait and try and squeeze an election in before people in the mining industry, people in the agricultural industry, people in the transport industry and all those people start losing their jobs, because they might just have a say at election time.’ That is why it has been delayed for 12 months.

Let us have a look at what the effect on Australian industry and those jobs will be if the government’s plan comes to fruition. I want to talk specifically about the cement industry. In Australia we produce 10 million tonnes of cement per year and we import two million tonnes as well, so we consume around 12 million tonnes of cement. The cement industry is a big producer of greenhouse gases; in fact, in Australia we produce 0.8 tonnes of greenhouse gas for every tonne of cement that we manufacture, so those 10 million tonnes of cement made here in Australia produce eight million tonnes of greenhouse gas.

Of course, the free permits and discounted permits will disappear as time goes on. Let us say the cement industry starts off at a 90 per cent discount—very generous. That means that on the eight million tonnes of greenhouse gas they produce they will only have to pay the permit on 8,000. As time goes on and the free permits expire—and if NAB is correct in its predictions that carbon may go to $100 per tonne—for those eight million tonnes of greenhouse gases that the cement industry produces we are looking at $100 per tonne multiplied by eight million. We are looking at an $800 million cost to the cement industry. They will never survive. There are some 15 manufacturing sites around regional Australia employing around 1,870 people, let alone the transport and other jobs that rely on that industry. If they are forced out of business then no doubt we will import our cement from China.

China produces in excess of one billion tonnes of cement per year compared to about 10 million. But there is one catch: when China produces a tonne of cement it produces 1.1 tonnes of greenhouse gases. In Australia we produce 10 million tonnes of cement, producing eight million tonnes of greenhouse gases. Send Australian industry broke, shut down the jobs and we will import cement from China—so the 10 million tonnes they produce in China will produce 11 million tonnes of greenhouse gases. What is the result? The 15 plants are gone, the jobs are gone and we are importing 10 million tonnes of cement. So instead of producing eight million tonnes of greenhouse gases in Australia, we will be producing 11 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in China. How smart is that? This is the point that my colleague Senator Cormann made: if you shift the industries out of Australia, those countries who do not really care about the atmosphere or anything else they are doing, except making money, will take on the jobs and produce more greenhouse gases. The effect on the globe will be worse if that is what you do.

I refer to agricultural industries. They will suffer as well under these costs. ABARE predicts it could cost the dairy industry up to $9,000 per dairy farm. So we will send them broke. What are we going to do: import our fresh milk from China? We have had enough trouble importing food from China recently. Then there is the beef industry. What frightens me is that about 60 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gases are produced through agriculture—around 70 million tonnes. When all the discounts go, when all the costs come on, that will be a $7 billion cost to Australia’s food producers. They cannot suffer that cost. That is where the jobs will go, and there is no doubt that that will happen if this flawed scheme is allowed to proceed.

The aluminium and steel industries are the same as the cement industry—they produce greenhouse gases. Shut them down here and they will move overseas to places like China and India where frankly they do not care. Recently I was talking to a person whose son is currently in China building a power station. He describes it as a 1940s model. The coal that is burnt there is filthy. What is more, China does not care. I am sure that when China, Indonesia and India get to Copenhagen they will play the tune and sing the song and say that everything will be all right but I have little or no confidence that they will be serious about reducing their emissions, because they will be taking over our industries.

Let us move on to the motor vehicle industry. Ford Australia says that the ETS could add millions to its costs and threaten jobs. In a submission to a Senate inquiry it said that additional energy costs would be in the vicinity of millions of dollars. I want to point to those energy costs. I was at Bayswater power station just a few weeks ago in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. Bayswater produces 40 per cent of electricity in New South Wales. At Bayswater they pay $350 million per year for the coal supplied to power that plant. Under the emissions trading scheme the cost of that coal will go to $950 million.

Debate interrupted.