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Wednesday, 6 July 2011
Page: 4112

Senator BOSWELL (Queensland) (10:00): I was not going to speak on this and I am not as prepared as I should be. My colleague Senator Nash handed me a bill of some 291 sections, and there are a couple more. We are being asked to vote on this bill when we have not got a clue what it actually means because all the detail, we hope, will be announced on Sunday. We are being asked to vote on a pig in a poke. No-one can possibly vote for this legislation unless we have the detail: how many acres of trees are we supposed to plant; are these trees going to affect food production; are these trees that we plant going to affect the townships; if we plant so many trees, are they going to have an impact on the sugar mills or the rice mills or the dairy farms? Because if you plant trees, you do not plant food and that food production cannot be processed and that has effects on the towns and employment in the towns.

This bill has had as much thought process go into it as the carbon taxing regime that the government is trying to put into place. It is about as silly as taxing Australia on carbon production. It is absolutely stupid and we are asked to vote for it. I will be supporting the amendments that we do not vote for this, that we do not carry the debate any further unless we know the detail. It is, really, an insult to this side of the chamber—or any side of the chamber. The Greens demand this, the government capitulates, a bill goes up and we have not got a clue what is in it. We are told: 'The details will be on Sunday. Please wait for this.' I say to the government: 'You have your new paradigm. It does not matter whether this bill comes in today or in two weeks time, the Greens are going to support you. You have got the numbers. Just execute the numbers more conservatively. Do not go in and try to hit the Senate over the head with a sledgehammer because that is what you are doing by asking us to vote for something that no-one knows what is in it.'

We have a direct action plan. I do not know whether this covers that. When I asked our spokesman John Cobb, he said: 'Look, there's no detail in this. Any responsible government could not possibly ask for a decision to be taken on this bill without any detail.' I suspect we will be under the lash of the new paradigm and Senator Milne will support the government on this. We will vote against it. Senator Milne will support the government and we will have a piece of legislation in that will make about as much sense as a carbon tax in Australia.

While Senator Ludwig is in the chamber I will report that I went to Indonesia last week to try to sort out some of the terrible mess that he has left over. There are people without food; people who work in cattle lots—80,000-odd of them—who have not got jobs; the insult that we have offered our neighbour of cutting off their food supply without even telling them. It is going to take a lot of diplomacy to unravel that mess. The total ill will in insults that have been offered to the Indonesians is hard to comprehend unless you go over there. They have an industry that has a lot of support over there, a lot of people working in it, and just to go and cut their supply off is unbelievable.

That is not what I want to talk about today; I will talk about that at a later stage. But the thought occurred to me when I was over there, as I saw some of the world's most extreme poverty and the government trying to do what it could to create employment, to give the people jobs: I wonder what the Indonesian contribution will be. Here are these people living in absolute poverty—they cannot even afford the kerosene for their stoves at night—going out working huge numbers of hours, and we are going to say to them: 'We want you to make a contribution to reducing carbon. We want you to live in extreme poverty. We want you to increase the price of electricity, increase the price of food, increase the price of building. We don't mind if you live in a hovel and we don't mind if you've got nothing to eat and we don't mind if you haven't got a job, but you've got to pull your weight on the environment.' What a stupid, idiotic idea. It is about as sensible as cutting off their food supply. This is what the people in Australia are saying. There is no thought in these processes. They come along with a rush of blood to the head: 'We'll have an ETS, we'll have a carbon tax and we'll expect the rest of the world to pull its weight.' I can tell you, Senator Ludwig: these people cannot go anywhere. They are trying to get out of poverty. They are trying to get somewhere decent to live. They are trying to have something to eat. They are trying to provide a job. The government is trying to provide jobs—even going to the extent of not being efficient, because efficiency costs jobs but being inefficient to provide jobs. They do not have machines, they do not have things that will cut jobs down.

And then we come along and say: 'We have 1.4 per cent of the world's emissions and we will strangle our economy by trying to reduce it by 40 per cent. We will put steelworkers' jobs on the line, we will put cement industry jobs on the line and we will strangle our economy. We will put the jobs of all those people on the line. We will increase the costs of farms by 20 per cent—reduce the price of farmers' profits by 20 per cent.' It will ripple right through the economy. And what will it be for? For nothing. It will achieve nothing. These Third World countries that produce most of the emissions cannot move anywhere. Do you think India are going to say, 'We are going to cut our emissions down'? Senator Ludwig, maybe you can tell cabinet, if they leave you there without sacking you for your terrible mistakes—you should be sacked; if you had an decency, you would resign.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Pratt ): Senator Boswell, please direct your comments through the chair.

Senator BOSWELL: Madam Acting Deputy President, I am sorry and I will direct them through you. It is just stupidity that this government can murder and emasculate our economy to try and reduce our emissions by 40 per cent. That is business as usual. They expect us to do it and, in return, the only way that can be effective is if the rest of the world joins us and reduces their emissions. Then you go to these impoverished countries—where the government is doing their best, doing their utmost, to give people jobs, to give people a living, even if it is $100 a month—and expect them to make a sacrifice for the environment, when they are living on the poverty line. You cannot do it. Any government that did it would be thrown out. There would be revolutions in the streets if you put the cost of food up. Yet we merrily go along and say, 'The world is doing something'. Let me tell you, Senator Ludwig, through the chair: in 2020, China's emissions will have risen by 496 per cent, and India's by 350 per cent. I do not know what Indonesia's will be but it will be significant.

One thing Indonesia said to me was: 'Well, you might have cut our meat supply off but you are going to be generous in sending a lot of industry over to us. You are going to send all your heavy industry over to us and maybe that will in some way pay us back for what you have done to our meat industry.' They know that the cement industry will go over there, the steel industry will go over there and the heavy industries will go over there. We will have achieved absolutely zero, because all we will have done is push our heavy industries off into Third World countries. Maybe that is a way to give them a bit of a kick-start but it will not do much for our people over here.

We are told that we are not alone in this—everyone is pulling their weight; everyone is doing something. They are, to a lesser extent. But the best one I read was that Brazil is going to change its light bulbs. That is their contribution to reducing emissions. Good on Brazil. We are going to emasculate our industry while Brazil changes its light bulbs. How stupid is that. How absolutely stupid that we are saying we are going to introduce a carbon tax universally around Australia. We are the only single country that is going to do this. Yes, the EU has a carbon tax, and that carbon tax will extract $2 billion in five years. Let us say it is $2.5 billion. That is what a carbon tax is going to take out of the economy of the EU, which is probably 20 times bigger than our economy. But, at the behest of the Greens, we have to make a sacrifice. The Greens want a sacrifice. The Greens want blood. The Greens want workers' blood. Who goes along with it? Senator Ludwig and all the other Labor senators, because they have not got the guts to stand up to the Greens and say: 'This is just ridiculous. This is just stupid.'

In one year the Australian scheme will take out over $10 billion. That is what we are going to extract from our economy. We have heard about the US regional schemes. All the states are doing their bit. No-one is bludging on the system. Everyone is doing things. In two years they have extracted well under $2 billion. I cannot believe the stupidity of the absolutely ridiculous proposition that we are being asked to support. Let us forget whether the science is right or wrong. I have never questioned the science; I do not think there is an answer to the science. You do not have to go to the science to know this is the most ridiculous scheme that was ever put up because it will not work unless everyone participates in it. It cannot work unless you get India, China, the Philippines and Indo­nesia—these big countries with emissions—to join in. They cannot join in because they have got nowhere to go. They have got their people living in poverty, and the govern­ments of those countries are rightfully trying to lift their people out of poverty.

If you, Senator Ludwig, had gone over to Indonesia instead of sending a message that 'We've just cut your food supply off—don't worry about it,' you would have seen that there are significant emissions around Indo­nesia. Yes, there is a bit of smog around and there is smog around China. I have never been to India but I suspect there is over there too. But what is the alternative? To tell these people to starve? To tell them to live in a cardboard box? To tell them not to light their stoves? Where have they got to go? You are asking these people to live in poverty for the rest of their lives, to never crawl out of it. You say you are for the workers. I do not know: if we treated farmers the way you treat workers, the way you treat unionists, we would get tarred, feathered and run out of town. But you just treat them as absolute simpletons that do not understand anything and you expect them to vote for you.

I can tell you I have been in this game a long time—a lot longer than many of you—and I can see what is going to happen here. You are completely wedged between the Left and the Right. The conservative blue-collar family man who is concerned about his electricity costs is voting for us. The doctors' wives are voting for the Greens, and you are wedged in the middle and you are going nowhere except down. You can almost see your polls are like an elevator descending one floor after another: from 34, 33, 30, 29, 27. You will stop at about floor 25, and the Greens will just about come up and take the second position in parliament.

You have to realise it. The National Party realised it when they were fighting against One Nation. There is only one way to stop it: stand up for your constituents and prove that the Greens are completely hopeless, useless and not in this world. Until you face that, you are dead meat and you are going to get carved away, inch by inch. At the end of next election you will not have the Oakeshotts and the Windsors to rely on; you will be absolutely emasculated and run out of office. It will take you another four or five terms to recover.