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Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Page: 8270

Senator BERNARDI (6:07 PM) —Madam Acting Deputy President, I ask you just for a moment to suspend any semblance of critical thought and accept without question the cataclysmic, alarmist version of anthropogenic global warming advanced by the likes of the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Wong, Tim Flannery and Al Gore, and as you lie awake at night, worried by the mere thought of oceanfront land in Wagga Wagga, you realise that something needs to be done before it is too late. The alarmists have insisted that Australia needs to act now and introduce an emissions trading scheme because climate change is the ‘greatest moral issue of our time’ and, as an acquiescent disciple of this new religion, to save the planet you concoct a scheme that will tax every business and every family in the country. Sure, it will raise the cost of food, electricity, construction and transport, but that is the price you are prepared for others to pay. You condemn any opponents of your plan as sceptics and heretics while trying to convince the community that it will not hurt them too much. In fact, so desperate are you to facilitate the introduction of your multibillion dollar wealth redistribution system that you promise to compensate some of those affected by more than it is actually going to cost them. Surely everyone can see the sense in taking from the wealthy and giving to those who pollute just as much but are not as well off. Just think of it as spreading the great socialist love to save the planet.

Despite the rejection of your scheme by farmers and environmentalists, businesses and families, you plough on regardless. What does it matter that hundreds of thousands of jobs are going to be lost and industries closed if it means that we have less carbon dioxide in the world? Desperately looking for support, you enlist those notorious polluters in the investment banking, legal and financial markets to support your cause, conveniently forgetting that only months ago you were blaming their excessive culture of greed for the failure of the world financial system. Ignore, too, the billions of dollars they stand to make from the creation and administration of an unwieldy bureaucracy and the carbon trading scheme you propose. Surely the opportunity to profit would not be the reason that they endorse the scheme, would it?

Such is the urgency of the matter at hand that you insist the parliament pass your legislation immediately, even though your new scheme will not actually commence for a couple of years. Worse still, you admit to yourself and the public that your scheme will not make any difference to the climate unless the rest of the world does something similar. Of course, the rest of the world will not be making up their minds for a while yet, as they have ditched any prospect of reaching a global agreement. But, undeterred, you make the decisive and tough decision to act now, even though you know you are damaging the economic future of your own country.

Let us get back to reality. Actually, that was reality. Under any critical analysis, the above scenario would be considered the height of political madness, yet that is exactly what the advocates of Labor’s dishonestly named Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme want to do, and they want to do it without being honest with the Australian people about their inefficient and ineffective scheme. Madam Acting Deputy President, if you walk down the street and ask the average Australian about an ETS or a CPRS, the chances are that they will not know anything about it and they will not be able to explain it to you. In seeking to explain this flawed scheme, I would like to use a few lyrics from a song—not the same song that our esteemed Prime Minister used but another one. It is called Every Breath You Take by The Police:

Every breath you take

Every move you make

Every bond you break

Every step you take

I’ll be watching you

They are some of the words of that song and they neatly encapsulate what these Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme bills will do. They impact on everything that you do, everything you consume, everything you use and everything you build. These bills and this government regard every breath you take as pollution. That is right: every time you breathe out, the government considers that you are polluting the environment and adding to global warming.

Some quick back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that all of us contribute about 500 kilograms of this newly declared evil gas every year simply by breathing. So, if you want to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, surely the answer is to simply breathe less. There is a solution with a catchphrase: we can all go green by turning blue. Perhaps we could start with some of those celebrity climate change alarmists. If they preached less and stopped trying to scare the children out of their innocence, perhaps our carbon dioxide emissions would drop significantly. It would certainly be a good start. We could encourage all Australians to take one breath less every minute and the entire carbon dioxide global warming alarmism would disappear in a puff of colourless, odourless, non-toxic exhaled gas that the alarmists dishonestly call a pollutant.

Then we could make this government’s dishonest tax on hot air, the CPRS, disappear too. Indeed, I state that that is my ultimate intention—to defeat this imprudent overreaction to natural climate change by a government which is more keen on control than on actual results. Control is what these bills are about, because these bills also engage Orwell’s feared Big Brother in the form of what the bills describe as the ‘Authority’. The authority themselves or their appointed agents can walk into any business and make demands of it and, in doing so, overturn some important legal precedents which are dismissed under this legislation . There is no right to remain silent under this bill, there is no protection from self-incrimination and there is no presumption of innocence, because the burden of proof resides with the accused rather than the accuser. That is right: the authority can make accusations without evidence and somehow you have to prove that you are innocent rather than their having to prove that you are guilty. These bills also put the government at the very heart of every aspect of our economy. Every development, every construction, every industry will have to make the trip to Canberra begging for indulgence and permission from the all-powerful minister and her minions controlling the authority squad. It is a return to the bad old days of patronage, largesse and the rorts and rackets that can be best described as Labor mates gaining access once again.

As I mentioned before, most Australians really do not understand this new tax on their breath and their life. But those who do understand the emissions trading scheme and will be bearing the cost of it—rather than profiting from it—do not want anything to do with it. I am talking about the mums and dads, the small business operators and the regular people that this government have forgotten in their pandering to special interest groups and leftist elites. In fact, the whole global warming phenomenon has faded in public consciousness since Al Gore’s mockumentary was exposed as being full of false fears. It seems the public is slowly waking up. A Lowy Institute poll from October found that climate change now ranks seventh out of ten policy priorities for the Australian public. In 2007 it was the top priority. There are clearly many more important issues for the government to be focusing on and spending their money on instead of on this ill-conceived CPRS.

Speaking of money, after years of claiming that the science is settled, the anthropogenic global-warming rent seekers continue to demand taxpayer handouts for further research. One could say they are caught in a catch 22 of deceit. They need to tell more falsehoods to get more money to generate even more nonsense—and nonsense it is. The research on which much of this alarmism is built has been exposed as a fraud. The IPCC hockey stick graph was a fraud. The tree ring data was a fraud. I could go on and on and on. One could describe it as the Sara Lee cheesecake effect, ‘layer upon layer upon layer’ of alarmism and deceit, giving rise to the new religion of climate change. You may think I am being unfair, but that is not me calling it a religion; it is Justice Michael Burton of the UK, who has held that belief in climate change is a religion and not a valid scientific belief.

What is amazing about this commitment to the CPRS and the new religion of climate change is that Australia acting alone will actually make no difference to the climate. Australia is responsible for only 1.4 per cent of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions. In comparison, every few months China increases its carbon dioxide emissions by more than Australia’s total annual emissions. So an Australian CPRS, especially one enacted in isolation, will not make one bit of difference to climate change. Given that there is going to be no legally binding agreement—and only a ‘political commitment’ reached—in Copenhagen, it is even more important that Australia not go it alone by passing this legislation. Just today, the Canadian environment minister said that they will not be enacting any emissions trading scheme in their country in the absence of an international agreement. Hooray for Canada protecting their national interest! It is about time the Australian government did the same.

For months the meeting at Copenhagen was heralded as the defining moment, when an international agreement would be reached. In fact, the UK’s alarmist Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that, if an agreement were not reached in Copenhagen, it would be too late. But somehow things have changed and that defining moment and that ‘too late’ claim have been pushed back and suddenly disappeared. Who knows when or if an international agreement will ever be reached? If it takes a form similar to the failed Copenhagen treaty, we are right to be very, very concerned. I started a petition about this on my website, and in just a few days I had 4,818 Australians registering their dismay at the Copenhagen treaty and our commitment to signing up to it.

Amazingly, Kevin Rudd, the enforcer and sergeant-at-arms of the Copenhagen conference, confessed he had not even read the Copenhagen treaty; yet he was prepared to sign up to assigning some of Australia’s sovereignty and billions of taxpayer dollars to the United Nations—an unelected and unaccountable body. What sort of leader commits to something that he cannot even be bothered to read and consider? It is the same leader who brings this pointless and hopeless CPRS into this parliament. By committing ourselves to this flawed policy now, Australia is condemning itself to the certainty of higher prices, job losses, damaged industry and a decaying economy, while indulging the gargantuan ego of an increasingly erratic and volatile Prime Minister.

The result will be there for all of us to see. It is going to be seen in higher prices for everything we buy. A carbon pollution reduction scheme requires businesses to pay for carbon emissions. That means their costs have increased. Gee, how are they going to pay these costs? Well, businesses will be forced to increase their prices. Who pays for these increased prices? Australian consumers. Everything we purchase and use will be affected. The estimated grocery price increase is up to seven per cent. Australian families are already struggling under increasing bills. Electricity companies and consumers will be hit hard by the price rise in electricity. The government have even asked Morgan Stanley to examine the effect of an ETS on electricity. But they will not release the document, despite requests from the opposition, because they know what it discloses. If the report were favourable, mark my words, it would have been released straightaway. But it has not been. Fortunately, thanks to some prudent press, we are reading that, within weeks of the CPRS being enacted, we should expect some Latrobe Valley power generators to be placed in administration. If the government are prepared to say that will not happen, let them offer a guarantee.

We are going to lose tens of thousands of jobs in this country, because other countries will not be enacting the CPRS or an equivalent scheme. We will see industry disappear offshore, because, if Australia goes it alone, it is bad for business and not in Australia’s economic interests. We have report commissioned by the Minerals Council, which found that the CPRS would cost 23,000 mining jobs by 2020—the very jobs and industry sector that this government is pinning its hopes on to get it out of the mire of debt it has already created. In my state of South Australia, a CPRS would devastate small towns like Whyalla and Port Pirie. You might expect the largest industry in Port Pirie, for example, to have to close down, resulting in 2,000 job losses—30 per cent of the Port Pirie workforce—thanks to a CPRS.

This legislation is bad for families. As I mentioned earlier, the prospects of higher prices and unemployment will have a devastating effect on Australian families—and no-one will be immune to it. It will be there taking your money every time you iron, every time you cook and every time you seek to cool your home. But to the people of Australia I say: it is not all bad news, because some people will actually profit at your expense. Some people will be making money out of this, and Penny and Kevin think you should be happy for them.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Troeth)—Order! Senator Bernardi, you should refer to the Prime Minister by his correct title.

Senator BERNARDI —Senator Wong and the Prime Minister think you should be happy for them, because the CPRS has a very real prospect of making a lot of money for the lawyers, the consultants and the merchant bankers. They are going to have to advise the businesses, the companies, the executives et cetera, and interpret the confusing and complex laws surrounding this scheme. If a majority of Australians have no idea what a CPRS is, or does, or how it works, or how it is not going to affect the climate, then they are certainly going to need a bevy of lawyers to explain it to them. Investment bankers will make billions upon billions of dollars, at taxpayers’ expense, by manipulating the market for carbon permits. Do not take my word for it. The billionaire, leftist, green advocate, George Soros, said at a London School of Economics seminar:

The system can be gamed; that’s why financial types like me like it—because there are financial opportunities.

This CPRS runs against every principle that I hold dear and that inspired me to get involved in politics: support for smaller government, lower taxes, support for families, encouragement of free enterprise, an orderly society and reward for effort. These are the very principles upon which my party was built and to which I fully subscribe. The Rudd government’s CPRS violates all of these principles, and no-one who is strongly committed to these key values can seriously consider supporting this Labor government scheme. I am amazed that anyone can seriously actually support this scheme. The CPRS will change the way our country operates. It will affect every single one of us—and for what? For no environmental benefit whatsoever. That is the crux of all of this. Why would we put ourselves through this pain when it will not make any meaningful difference to the climate? A CPRS simply offers no meaningful benefits but will impose very real, huge costs.

Of course, we all want to work towards conserving our natural resources and our natural environment. We want to have a sustainable way of life and a sustainable approach to our land, and there are many ways in which we can successfully do that. But the CPRS simply is not one of them. Let me reiterate: the CPRS will impose higher costs on everyone for everything. It will cost Australian jobs and damage Australian industry and the economy, and it will not achieve its aim of reducing carbon emissions. It will not make a jot of difference to the climate. So why are we doing it? This is not in the best interests of Australians or Australia. I will not compromise on my commitment to the core Liberal Party philosophies to which I subscribe. I will stand against big government, I will continue to advocate for lower taxation, I will fight for the interests of families and I will foster free enterprise. Accordingly, I will vote against this despicable Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.