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Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Page: 4436


Senator BERNARDI (1:53 PM) —Let me get straight to the point and dispel some of the myths peddled by the Labor Party and the radical green movement. I am not a climate change sceptic. Historical evidence suggests the climate of our planet has continually evolved and changed, and it always will. Thus I am 100 per cent sure that our climate is changing. Of course, that begs the question: what is driving that change? The government will have you believe that climate change is being driven by carbon dioxide—or, more specifically, that man-made CO2, which comprises less than one per cent of atmospheric carbon mass, is the culprit. Despite the plethora of evidence to the contrary, those committed to the anthropogenic climate change industry have too much of themselves invested in this new religion to admit they actually might have it wrong.

When I say there is a plethora of evidence refuting their claims, I mean there really is a tonne of the stuff. Firstly, we have the irrational claims made by the high priests of climate change themselves. Alarmist of the year Tim Flannery once stated that the seas were going to rise by 100 metres, not the one metre that Senator Bilyk just told us. He was wrong. Great video hoaxer Al Gore won a Nobel prize for producing a flawed and alarmist mockumentary that contained a litany of errors and that required a guidance note before it could be viewed by British children. For over two decades the shrill cry of the alarmists declared we only had five years to prevent a climate change catastrophe. I could go on and on. The extremist mumbo jumbo uttered by those who profit from fear, either financially or electorally—and one could call them the prophets of doom—gets louder and louder. They must raise their voices not because any of their predictions have been realised but simply because they have not. When confronted with the very inconvenient facts that they have been demonstrably wrong again and again they simply raise the decibel of their cry and the level of the hyperbole attached to their claims. Tonight I shall leave the rebuttal of their hysteria there. Suffice to say there are many examples of attempts to scare the public by the prophets of doom.

Yet, despite these very loose advocates, I do have an open mind on the bill before the Senate today. By an open mind, I mean I am genuinely undecided. I am unsure if this bill and the associated bills are the worst or simply the dumbest pieces of legislation ever dealt with in this chamber. Either way, the bills are built on flawed science, fuelled by unsustainable hysteria and lacking in any demonstrable benefit to our great nation. After all, ask yourselves: isn’t it the primary requirement of any government to act in Australia’s best interest? Isn’t that why governments are elected? Isn’t it to defend the country and its citizens by looking after their interests? I certainly hope most senators in this place agree with that comment. But, alas, the supporters of this bill seem unconcerned with the interests of our nation. If they were committed to acting in Australia’s best interests they would not endorse a new tax that will impact on every man, woman and child in this country without any meaningful benefit. They would not advocate a scheme that will cost tens of thousands of jobs without any meaningful benefit. They would not champion a plan to export domestic industry, domestic jobs and domestic profits to foreign lands without any meaningful benefit.

How can I state so unequivocally that there will be no meaningful benefit? The stated aim of these bills is to address dangerous climate change. They fail to do that on several levels, and I would like to touch on just a couple. Firstly, the government’s own adviser, Mr Ross Garnaut, has given evidence that this scheme is flawed and might actually be worse than doing nothing. In response to this question by Senator Macdonald, ‘If the scheme were not modified, would it still be better than nothing?’ Professor Garnaut said:

That is a really hard question. Let me say it would be finely balanced.

It was further reported that Professor Garnaut said:

... it might be better to drop the proposed model and “have another crack at it and do a better one when the time is right.”

Secondly, the purpose of the wealth transfer scheme advocated by the leftists in charge of this is to change people’s behaviour. This scheme actually compensates a group of people in excess of the cost of the introduction of the ETS. This might seem like a generous gesture by the government, but to me it is further evidence that the scheme will not achieve what it is intended to do. Instead, this bill sets in place a bureaucracy that will have an insatiable appetite for transferring cash from industry to government.

The question for the advocates of this scheme is: why could anyone acting in the national interest actually endorse such a ridiculous proposal? Of course they will say it is to act on climate change, but it will not make any difference. Because it will not make any difference, you have got to ask, ‘What the heck are they doing it for?’ I am now reminded that Mr Rudd claimed this as the greatest moral issue of our time, where the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of action. Why, then, has the government delayed the commencement of this scheme? Has reality smacked the disingenuous Rudd government in both of its faces? If so, here is a little more reality for you to contemplate from your gilded cage: this bill will damage our economy. It will lift taxes, it will kill jobs and it will not make a jot of difference to the climate. Under the Rudd-Wong scheme Australian industry will be taxed an extra $12 billion over five years. Many of these industries will not be able to pass on these costs. Some will simply close down or move overseas.

The already struggling and, in most cases, poorly managed state governments will also suffer, with one estimate being that they will be $1.4 billion poorer as a result of this scheme. Even the most uninformed would have to realise that this would result in higher state taxes and charges, a decline in services or possibly both. This scheme will also affect wages. Treasury secretary Dr Henry has stated:

It is my understanding that in general terms the real wages in alternative employment would probably be lower than the real wages offered in the mining sector.

In other words, this scheme will force some people out of their current jobs into lower paid jobs—hardly the outcome designed to boost prosperity in an already damaged economy. According to the minerals industry, this scheme will impose costs of $2 billion per annum and seriously damage their competitive position. The grains industry, a very low emitter, will be slugged with an annual indirect cost of more than $500 million—hardly the stuff to support their international competitiveness on an already uneven playing field.

Debate interrupted.