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Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Page: 4639

Senator MASON (9:31 AM) —Let me start by reminding the Senate what this debate is not about. This is not a debate about the environment. This is not, in fact, a debate about global warming or climate change. This is not a debate about the scientific challenge facing humanity and the best ways to respond to that. No, this is a debate about flawed legislation that the government is trying to rush through as fast as possible to satisfy and feed, in the end, Kevin Rudd’s moral vanity. That is what this legislation is really about. There are no credible reasons—no scientific reasons, no environmental reasons, no economic reasons—to rush this flawed legislation through at this very moment. None. There are only two reasons for doing so and they have absolutely nothing to do with the welfare of the planet or the wellbeing of this nation—or indeed with good public policy at all. Labor is hell-bent on ramming this flawed legislation through the Senate for two reasons: one is personal and the other is political.

Essentially, this legislation is designed to make Kevin Rudd feel a bit better about himself while at the same time trying to cynically wedge the opposition, no matter at what cost to our country. It is not about the environment; it is all about politics. It is not about the warming, it is about the wedge. It is not about saving the planet; it is about damning the opposition. Last but not least, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009 and related bills are a sacrificial altar at which Kevin Rudd will quite gladly sacrifice Australian jobs, our competitive advantage and our standard of living so that he can amply demonstrate to those very enlightened international elites his green credentials and he can show that he really and deeply cares—so that he can ‘out Gore’ Al Gore; so that he can outdo Princess Mary and conquer Copenhagen before the conference even starts. Maybe he can even pump up his resume, his CV, on his inevitable ‘Long March’ towards the secretary-generalship of the United Nations. The economy, jobs, the standard of living—who cares? Just call it all collateral damage to Kevin Rudd’s moral vanity. For this is the price that Kevin Rudd is prepared to pay. Because, you see, Kevin Rudd wants to be loved. That is his problem. Can’t you imagine it? A pat on the back from President Obama—he wants that—handshakes from European Union officials; photo ops with Al Gore; accolades from scientists and bureaucrats in silk ties and plenty of expensive aftershave: all the things that he lusts for, all the things that he needs. It is all there, just within his grasp, if he can only jump the gun on the rest of the world and drag Australia to go first. That is the issue.

But it might not have occurred to Kevin Rudd that what is good to Kevin Rudd might not be so good for our country. And it is not. It is not good for thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of Australians, particularly those in regional areas and particularly in Queensland, who will lose their jobs as a result of this flawed legislation. In the past we exported our mineral wealth to China and to India. Now, thanks to Kevin Rudd, we will be exporting our jobs to China and to India. It is not good for millions of Australians who will needlessly have to pay much higher prices for their energy. But that is nothing new for Labor, nothing new at all for the party of high taxation and high debt. It is not good either for the Australian economy or the Australian environment, because Labor’s proposal does not even have a sufficient environmental bang for the buck. It is poor legislation. These are bad bills. They are rushed bills and they are flawed bills.

It does not matter if the earth is warming or cooling or staying stable. It does not make these bills any less flawed. It does not matter if the temperatures were to rise half a degree, two degrees or five degrees over the next century. They are still flawed bills. It does not matter if and to what extent the earth’s climate is changing to our detriment. These bills are not the answer. It does not matter if you are a believer, a sceptic or an agnostic. The earth can afford to wait another few months, but we cannot afford to hurry and get this wrong. That is why Kevin Rudd and his government should stop and listen. They should listen to the opposition’s proposals, which will save jobs, keep energy costs down and double the reduction of carbon emissions—all at a much lower price tag than the Labor proposal. Our proposals are better for jobs and the environment, better for Australia and the planet. Labor’s bills are flawed. We cannot and will not vote for bills that destroy jobs, increase living costs, effectively tax every Australian and do virtually nothing for the environment. All this is to feed Kevin Rudd’s moral vanity. This is not legislation at all; this is a pathetic psychodrama—and a very, very expensive one at that.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Crossin)—Senator Carol Brown.

Senator Cormann —Follow that!

Senator Marshall —Yeah, follow that nonsense!