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Thursday, 3 November 2011
Page: 8158

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South Wales) (13:31): Can I follow Senator McKenzie's lead by bringing into the chamber copies of the bills and say at the outset that today we have insult on top of insult. This government has gagged the gag on these 18 bills and that is an absolute shame, on top of the other shame that they have lied to the Australian public. The purpose of these so-called 'clean energy bills'—or should I say 'carbon dioxide tax bills'—is to impose a new tax. This is to raise revenue. It is as simple as that. If anyone thinks that this is going to affect the climate in any way, they are absolutely delusional. For the Prime Minister, these bills serve as yet another way of highlighting her incompetence not just as a leader but also the hopeless state of her government in its Green alliance. This is a government which could not deliver ceiling insulation without burning down homes. It is a government which could not deliver an education revolution without billions of dollars of waste. It is a government which has lost the confidence of the voting public. Now this government wants to impose a tax on every Australian to change their behaviour by punishing them for using power, for doing their jobs and for earning export dollars.

The science is not settled. The planet's climate has been changing since day one. Shame on those opposite, shame on the Greens and shame on the Australian Labor Party for having vilified ordinary Australians who dare to voice their views and, yes, their scepticism. Shame on the Prime Minister for the way she has described these ordinary Australians who just want to express their point of view.

I associate my comments with many of those made by my colleagues. Today I would like to use the opportunity to talk about the Illawarra. Whoever thought of imposing a tax on every Australian should visit the Illawarra. Ms Gillard has been visiting the Illawarra quite regularly, most recently on 18 October, her second visit in less than six weeks. Only days after celebrations in the other place, Ms Gillard came to the Illawarra, a productive region which houses industry and manufacturing, family businesses both large and small and centres of excellence in education. Already the Illawarra is straining under economic conditions and is now reeling from prospective job losses at BlueScope Steel. Ms Gillard thinks that rolling out the NBN in the Illawarra and the Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund will make up for the pain of the carbon tax. She is fooling herself if she believes this. The biggest insult in all this is to the workers and the families of the Illawarra.

What is the feeling in the Illawarra about the carbon tax? If you look at the survey of local businesses you see that the Australian Labor Party received a thumping. In the state election in March the result was a resounding defeat of Labor and its carbon tax. Labour suffered swings of about 18 per cent across the Illawarra in the state election. If those opposite think that the carbon tax had nothing to do with this, they are absolutely totally delusional. The bad news for the Australian Labor Party continued in the local government elections at booth after booth, which I visited on the polling day. From down south at Shellharbour up to the northern suburbs of Wollongong the message was loud and clear: no carbon tax.

When Senator Joyce and I spoke in the mall in Wollongong, the message was loud and clear. There we had the usual union heavies dressed up as workers doing their best to heckle us and to be their usual abusive, thuggish selves but they did not take into account what the local research, through the economic reports of respected organisations like IRIS, was showing. The message that this research is showing loud and clear is: no carbon tax. Let us look at the research that was done on 300 local businesses in the Illawarra and their feelings about the carbon tax. The result was overwhelming: 68.9 per cent of businesses surveyed were against the carbon tax. That is, almost seven out of 10 businesses in the Illawarra do not support a carbon tax. Three months earlier, in June, 21 per cent of Illawarra businesses had supported the carbon tax, and that has now gone down to only 15.

When the Prime Minister visited the Illawarra on 18 October she said she was there for one reason: 'to keep faith with this region and its people'. She said:

As you undergo this process of change and transformation, you will not walk that road alone.

What a load of humbug. What a load of absolute and utter drivel from this woman. Ms Gillard, you lost faith with the people of the Illawarra, and indeed the people of Australia, the day that you lied to them and said that there would be no carbon tax under the government you would lead. So do not come to the Illawarra mealy-mouthed and tell the workers and families of the Illawarra just how sorry you feel. You have lost their faith. You lost it a long time ago. You lost it when you lied to them, so do not come along to the Illawarra and play this game: 'Yes, but now you'll have NBN jobs.' What a load of absolute codswallop. The Illawarra is absolutely buckling under—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Back ): Order! Senator Fierravanti-Wells, direct your comments to the chair rather than to an absent Prime Minister.

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: I apologise. The Illawarra is buckling under the redundancies at BlueScope Steel and the loss of work for contractors. But the Prime Minister believes that she can buy votes with a few announcements, the same way that she bought off Mr Paul Howes and the AWU with the Steel Transformation Plan. Remember that Mr Howes did not support the carbon tax until he received his $300 million. He then turned around and said, 'Yes, we will support the carbon tax.' He went down to the workers in the Illawarra and told them, 'You have to cop this.' But after the bollocking he got from the workers at the meetings it was very clear he had to change his tune. He ran off to the Prime Minister and told her, 'I have a problem,' and so all of a sudden $300 million arrived out of the woodwork—a very expensive path for Mr Howes, ultimately leading to parliament. Mr Howes is looking to his future parliamentary job, and this toxic tax is the price of minority government, the price for Labor to stay in power with their alliance partner, the social engineers—the Greens.

With its dependence on steelmaking and coalmining, the Illawarra will bear the brunt of the carbon tax like no other area in Australia. There are almost 40,000 mining and manufacturing jobs in the Illawarra and the south-eastern region of New South Wales, and 26,000 of those mining and manufacturing jobs are in Illawarra and Wollongong. It will be the people of the Illawarra and their children in the future who will lose out on jobs, because jobs will contract. There will be flow-on effects, but do you think that the member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, or the member for Throsby, Mr Stephen Jones, are listening? Of course they are not listening. Mr Jones seems to run around the countryside and say, 'We've got a problem.' Well, we had a problem. We have had a problem for a long time, but did he and Ms Bird try to convince the Prime Minister not to pass this tax? No. They just sat there and copped it.

We are probably talking about 31,000 job losses across New South Wales, according to Frontier Economics, and 18,000 of those will be in the Hunter Valley. They estimate that there will be about 7,000 job losses in the Illawarra. The Australian coal industry is predicting job losses of almost 5,000, including 3,000 in New South Wales alone.

There were 226 parliamentarians elected at the 2010 election. Just 10 of those 226 parliamentarians were elected on a promise of a carbon tax, and that is a mere four per cent of parliamentarians. This Prime Minister was elected on a lie. Do we honestly believe that she would be in the Lodge today had she told the Australian public that she was going to introduce a carbon tax? The answer is no. But she knew that if she did not tell a lie she could not win the election, and that is precisely what she did. She promised no carbon tax.

I am patron senator for 10 seats in New South Wales and all of these members of the Gillard Labor-Greens alliance were elected on a lie. Robert McClelland in Barton was elected on a lie. Daryl Melham in Banks was elected on a lie. Greg Combet, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and member for Charlton, was elected on a lie. I have already mentioned Sharon Bird, the member for Cunningham, elected on a lie. Craig Thomson, the member for Dobell, was elected on a lie—amongst other things, but I will not go into that today. John Murphy, the member for Reid, was elected on a lie. Deb O'Neill, the member for Robertson, was elected on a lie. Stephen Jones I have mentioned. The member for Throsby was elected on a lie. Tony Burke, member for Watson, was elected on a lie. Laurie Ferguson, member for Werriwa, was elected on a lie. All of them were elected on a lie perpetrated by their leader. They are part of an illegitimate government. To win power and to cling to power they will say anything. It is the old Australian Labor Party trick—say anything. As Richo writes in his book, Whatever it Takes, the Australian Labor Party will lie. It will do whatever it takes not only to get into power but to stay in power.

Then there was Mr Swan in September last year dismissing the scare campaigns against the carbon tax. This was at the same time that research by the Australian Trade and Industry Alliance showed that almost a million Australian jobs will be under pressure as employers struggle with increased power costs and higher costs for raw materials and manufacturing components. This is because they will be competing against international suppliers who will not be paying a carbon tax. There was Mr Swan criticising scare campaigns. He only criticises them when it is not his own people doing them.

Let us look at Tanya Plibersek, the master of the no-carbon-tax scare campaign. The Central Coast Express Advocate published an article on 15 July quoting Ms Plibersek talking to seniors at the Peninsula Community Centre. She said:

We know the science tells us we need to act …

The science shows us that the Central Coast faces the highest risk of inundation from sea level rise in NSW.

The federal government is taking action to tackle this …

And she went on with the usual drivel that the government comes out with. She was out there scaring older Australians at an older persons' facility. She was scaring them.

Then there was Peter Garrett claiming on Lateline that sea levels would rise by six metres. Talk about a clumsy way of trying to scare people into thinking that a melting ice shelf in Antarctica would send us waves high over low-lying houses on the Australian coast. When he was confronted by this, Mr Garrett did nothing to refute it. If these are not scare campaigns, I am not sure what are.

For the people of the Central Coast, many of whom commute daily to Sydney, what a low act this was from Minister Plibersek when she turned up trying to scare our senior Australians and other people. They have been deceived by their local member, the member for Dobell, as I said, who has busily been doing all sorts of other things—disgraceful behaviour—and now is being investigated by the New South Wales and Victorian police. I have traversed some of his 'activities' in this chamber. The Royal Australian College of Physicians, who are hardly a radical protest group, recommended caution with a carbon tax because it could exacerbate health inequalities. Talk about scare campaigns!

But one of the peculiarities of all of this is that the tax will do absolutely nothing to reduce domestic emissions. It will be others who will reduce emissions. In 2020 $22.8 billion will be sent overseas to purchase carbon credits. In 2050 almost $57 billion will be sent overseas to buy credits. Australian emissions will increase from 578 million tonnes today to 621 million tonnes in 2020. They may be called 'carbon credits' but instances of major fraud have emerged in relation to them. We saw that in China, and it is also occurring in India. Scams are occurring. These scams are occurring under the auspices of the UN program, the Clean Development Mechanism, established under the Kyoto protocol. It was the investigations of various environmental groups and not of the program's carbon cops which brought this to light. One of those environmental groups has said that this abuse of international carbon credits is the biggest environmental scandal in history and makes an absolute mockery of international efforts to combat climate change.

What is going to happen in the end if coal from mines in the Illawarra or the Hunter is burned in Australia for energy is that it will attract $23 a tonne in tax. But if the same coal is used to produce energy overseas then it will potentially attract clean energy investment. What a perverse policy this is. It is little wonder that the Australian Crime Commission has described the carbon credit market as a honeypot for criminals, including the Italian mafia, a very active organisation. One case in Europe involves the alleged fraud of $5 billion.

What is this sense of urgency now about the carbon dioxide tax? It is of course so that Senator Brown and other people can go off to Durban and tell everybody what wonderful things they have achieved here in Australia. Just remember the last person who thought he could influence the world's stand on climate change is now no longer the Prime Minister of Australia. But there are those opposite who are obviously keen to ensure he comes back as our Prime Minister. Copenhagen in 2009 was full of false hopes and ended up in tears.

We know the effect that this tax will have on Australian households. The coalition will repeal this tax because if you do not have a tax you do not need compensation. I am proud to stand here today on behalf of those millions of Australians who do not want this toxic tax, who have been lied to by this government and who want us to vote against these bills. That is precisely what I will be doing.