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Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Page: 4423


Senator WILLIAMS (12:54 PM) —I continue my speech about the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and what is proposed to this chamber. As I said when last speaking on this, Bayswater power station in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales produces 40 per cent of the electricity for New South Wales. The cost of their coal under the proposed emissions trading scheme, as they have reported to me, will rise from $350 million a year to a massive $950 million a year.

What cost will this put on business and what cost will this put on households? Sure, the government is saying that there will be rebates. There will be rebates until the government runs out of the money, and at the rate the debt is building that will not be long. I want to give you one example. Bindaree Beef, the abattoirs that I am so proud of for the way they carry out their business in Inverell, the town I live at, employs 600 people. Bindaree Beef pays around $160,000 a month for their electricity bill. If that is going to rise by 50 or 60 per cent, as the models have said electricity prices may well rise, that is going to be an extra $1 million a year for that abattoir just to pay the electricity bill.

But of course under the Waxman Markey bill proposed in America there are no such costs on the abattoirs in America. How does a value-adding business like Bindaree Beef compete and retain markets into places such as Japan and Korea when their overseas competitors do not have these extra costs lumped on them? This is a crazy situation we are facing. We are going to close down industries and increase unemployment—and we ask the question: what for?

The carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are currently around 380 parts per million. Assuming the rest of the world remains at balance on that, considering that places like China, India and Indonesia are most unlikely to make reductions, Australia could be billed for as much as $200 billion by the year 2020. That will have the effect of reducing the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere from 380 parts per million to 379 parts per million, which is a reduction of one part per million. As you would be well aware, if you have a big tub in front of you with one million dollar coins in it and you took one coin out, then the change would be miniscule, minute—call it what you like—it would be nothing. And it would be at the cost of some $200 billion to the Australian industry and the Australian people.

I just want to highlight the way that countries all round the world that are talking about cap and trade systems have excluded agriculture. But not in Australia—we will make a decision on that in the year 2013 and perhaps agriculture may be excluded or included in the emissions trading scheme and the CPRS. This is a crazy situation, however. Farmers, the very people who feed this nation, will be living in limbo until 2013. How do they plan their future, their cash flow, their borrowings, their investments, their expansions, when they do not know what their costs are going to be? Yet the Kyoto agreement does not recognise carbon in the soil, and it is one of the great things that our farmers can do. So farmers are going to face the bills, more than likely, but not receive the credits. As I said in my first speech to this place in September last year, do not take the supply of food in this nation for granted. Our farmers work hard against all sorts of odds and deliver high-quality, cheaply priced food.

In conclusion, what have we seen? We have seen politics introduced into this policy. We have heard Senator Wong say that we must act straightaway, that it is important we act straightaway to save the globe. So what do we do? We delay the introduction for 12 months because it is no longer really important. What is important is that we have an election before we actually start the program so that those industries that are moved overseas, those industries that are shut down, those people that are going to lose their jobs, will have to vote before it happens. Unfortunately, this is a politically driven scheme which is unrealistic, and we will certainly not support it. Thank you.