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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 7520

Senator JOYCE (QueenslandLeader of The Nationals in the Senate) (12:17): I think it is important to start by saying that the climate change debate is an ongoing debate. One moment ago we had the argument about caution, and I accept that, but to say that everything is concluded is ridiculous. That should not be accepted, and to start off I would like to quote Professor Judith Curry, who put out a paper recently saying that, although carbon dioxide levels are rising—she does not refute that—the temperature is not following the same path and whatever is driving issues pertaining to temperature rise it is not, to her mind, as someone with immense experience in this field, being driven in the form of carbon dioxide, as others presume it is. Also, I would like to look at other issues such as those in the latest work by Donna Laframboise, who has clearly pointed out—and I think this is important—that a third of the so-called 'peer reviewed sources' from the IPCC have not actually been peer reviewed. These sorts of issues need to be put on the table because people are getting away with making categorical statements that are not actually correct.

It is also very important to put on the record that those with a strong interest in a financial and pecuniary gain from a carbon trading permit system have been the greatest advocates of it. Quite obviously, banks are going to love this. Big banks are about to get a big bonus, a massive bonus, because they have the capacity to collect commission from trading permits. This is a big bank bonus that people are going to have to pay. When those opposite say, 'Oh, it's only the major emitters who have to pay this,' there is an assumption that they absorb the costs. But they do not. They pass the costs down by the powerline to every house in Australia, so through the skirting boards of every house every person pays for this. They pay for it through every fashion and through every mechanism of their life: when they heat their house during winter and when they cool their house during summer, when they cook their dinner, when they vacuum their carpet and when they watch television. No matter what they do this new broad based consumption tax will be collecting money from them.

This is a broad based consumption tax for which we have something that is completely new in this country—a mechanism to put up tax without it ever going through both houses of the parliament. That is something that I never thought we would be voting for. The Climate Change Authority will just say that in their war against the climate—and these people are always warring against people and things—they have to take more action, so they will make a recommendation which becomes a regulatory instrument—that means it does not have to be voted on—and they will just jack up the tax rate. And where do they want to take the tax rate to? It will be for an 80 per cent reduction in emissions. It takes you back to the levels we were at in 1910, so you would have come here on a horse! How are we going to have an economy then? That is $131 a tonne. We are starting at $23 a tonne and it goes up to $131 a tonne. What works? Where will we be? What we are doing to our nation with this is just so insane.

This is the most peculiar thing that I have ever seen. Why? Because you have got a choice. You can have cheap wages or cheap power if you want to be on the manufacturing side of production in a global economy where they move products around. So if you say, 'I'm going to have dear power,' are you going to have cheap wages or are you going to shut the show down? They talk about green jobs. Where are they? Where are these mythical green jobs that are going to come over the horizon? Where are these jobs? Where are they right now?

Are you relying on this? Are you going to take the person who is on a substantial income? There are only two types of jobs in this world. There are jobs that pay well and jobs that pay very, very badly, and where you are going to end up is with the jobs that pay very, very badly.

It is the most annoying thing. When I think about the images from the past weekend and now the first vision will be of flying down here on a Virgin airliner and seeing all the Qantas planes parked on the tarmac and becoming new homes for swallows because apparently we can cool the climate but we cannot actually manage to keep planes in the air. The second will be of us debating a mechanism in this chamber by which, apparently, single-handedly we can change the temperature of the globe from a room in this building. And the final vision will be one of Kevin Rudd dancing in Perth. This is the manic, mad world that we have now arrived in. This is it.

The Greens, to their credit, have taken over the show. They are driving the agenda. They have said, to quote Senator Milne, 'This is the beginning of a new wave of thinking,' and it is—their thinking. They are running the show. That is the new wave of thinking. It is completely naive, and in some instances the reality of what happens to our country and where the semblances of power will be moved to will be almost sinister.

I have just listened to them discussing a four-degree temperature increase. That is very similar to what Peter Garrett said when he was talking about six-metre sea level rises by the end of the century. Six metres! Even the IPCC says that at best it could be 60 centimetres. This is always their way. First of all, make you fear; make fear and loathing. Make you scared. Make you upset—impending doom. Then moralise: 'We mustn't have this. We must moralise. You must be better than that. You must be righteous. You must be good.' Then there is the third part of it. The third in the troika of course is to create the mechanism behind it. To feel good, to be righteous, to stop all these terrible things happening, you must have a new tax. A new tax will absolve you of all your sins. A new tax in this Greens confessional will make you righteous, like them. A new tax will allow you once more to assuage your guilt, and you will now be an honourable person.

But whenever we take them to the prickly issue of how much this tax is going to cool the temperature of the globe, obviously the answer is nothing. Not one person, not the most ardent supporter of global warming, says that this tax will do anything. It does nothing to change the temperature of the globe. It is merely a gesture. And the inconvenient truth is this: they never admit that this does nothing to actually change the climate. It will most definitely make you poorer. It will most definitely put manufacturing out of production. It will most definitely change the whole scale of the social dynamic and where the power is situated. It will most definitely bring in a new tax that does not need to go through the parliament. But it is not going to affect the temperature.

If we had a tax on malaria, as mad as that is, it would actually cure people of malaria. It would actually save someone's life. If we had a tax on polio we could actually do something. As mad as it is, you could actually do something. But we have a tax that does nothing; it just makes you poorer. Again, you will be sending $56.9 billion a year overseas to buy carbon permits—$56.9 billion to Prince Umfufu from western Nigeria. If you just send him your bank account details he will send you some carbon permits. It will be the greatest scam on earth. Even by 2020, it will be $3.2 billion a year. I want you to ponder on what you could buy with $56.9 billion a year, the roads you could fix for $56.9 billion a year. This is the greatest social engineering exercise and it goes beyond social engineering just in our own country. This is the divesting of the wealth of the Australian people to send overseas, and we are just sitting back.

It is going to happen because Mr Windsor did a deal with the Labor Party and there are ramifications of that deal. I will go through the document. You have to understand that in the Clean Energy Bill 2011 and related bills the government are talking at times about sending people to jail for 10 years for breaches. They do not care about it. This is the new insane world, the world where the Greens now bring in the guillotine and do not give you leave to speak. They are now also bringing about a whole new sort of world. There are real ramifications for people in this legislation. People will be dealing in something that formerly was free. A colourless, odourless gas that you are all breathing now and that was formerly free is now going to be something that is monitored, checked and charged for, and if you do not do the right thing they can send you to jail. Why are you letting them do that to your country? It is just the most peculiar thing that we have sat back idly and let this happen. It has become enmeshed. Everything that was formerly free that was given to people by nature, by God, by whatever blows your hair back that you think is associated with you, they are now charging you for. Vegetation is now owned by the state. Water is now owned by the state. And now you have the ownership of air; it is now owned by the state. Why are we doing this to our country? What is the purpose of all this? Why are we getting sucked into this?

By 2050 how much this will affect the Australian economy is equivalent to the size of the Australian economy now. By their own modelling, we will go back from our opportunity size by what the actual size of our economy is at the moment. So when you go out the door and look around and say, 'This is the size of the economy,' that is how much you are going to compromise for something that is not actually going to fix the temperature of the globe.

What does this affect? Let us just look at this building. It is going to affect steel. We will really struggle to compete and have a steel industry in our nation. People say, 'I believe in manufacturing.' If you believe in manufacturing, why would you bring in a tax against one of the most vital inputs? Underneath us is concrete. This will destroy the concrete industry; we will not have a concrete industry. Things were brought here on trucks. I know the TWU brought these seats here. I know that Senator Sterle brought these seats here. It is on transport. It is on the transport of things to here. You say, 'It's not on agriculture.' Yes, it is. It is on fertiliser. It is on power. It is on wire. It is on steel. It is on everything. And, ultimately, it can come in on agriculture. It said so in the document itself.

Why on earth are we doing this to ourselves? To be honest, I think this has been a great mechanism by the left wing, led by the Australian Greens, to bring in a sense of guilt and then behind that guilt place the new agenda of where they want things to go. There are contrarian views out there. There is a massive number of contrarian views out there by reputable people such as Professor Judith Curry and even by one of the lead scientists for the IPCC, Professor John Christy. He is an atmospheric scientist. He is a person who actually studies the atmosphere. He said, 'Yes, the world is warming but not nearly as much as we thought it was initially, and there is nothing you can do about it.' Certainly in Australia there is nothing we can do about it—but we just ignore that.

So what is the purpose of this tax? What is the purpose of this social re-engineering exercise? Let me go back to the issue of democratic right—the right of the Australian people. The Australian people said that they did not want this tax. Other people might have said that they wanted it; however, you must respect the right of the Australian people. If an election means anything, then one of the warrants that you give on your formative policy positions should be respected. You have to stand behind it, otherwise the whole purpose of politics and what people say to you behind a camera on election night is a farce. It means that you cannot believe anything. You might say, 'I believe in global warming'—sobeit. But the issue is that if a person makes a promise, if they make a statement, you expect as a matter of honour that that office is respected and they keep their word, because if they do not keep their word then you cannot trust anything that is said here. It all becomes irrelevant. Why did we let our nation get to a point where we basically allowed somebody to say something and then completely and utterly abscond from their promise? Why was their absconding from that promise then endorsed by the Greens and by others? Why would we do that? It makes the whole position farcical.

Australia, by the way, is not actually going to reduce carbon emissions with this tax. We will just end up buying credits from overseas. The carbon credit market is one of the most volatile in the world. It is the worst investment situation you could ever put yourself in. What are we putting in there? We are putting our whole nation in there.

The government says that without this tax you will not have certainty. I will give you a classic example of certainty, and here are two arguments for it. I am certain that under a coalition government the price of carbon permits in 10 years time will be zero, because they will not be there. The price will be zero. You can plan on that with absolute certainty under a coalition government. Pick any one of those who support this tax and ask: 'What will the price on carbon be in 10 years time? What will its price be in eight years time? Yet a certain group of people say that this is their argument for certainty. I think it is the most uncertain thing we could ever be involved with. How are we going to manage this? Who are the arbiters? The arbiters on how long you can be sent to jail if you get it wrong are all in here. And for what? We will be sending people to jail for something that was formerly free, that was just there, that was just part of it. No-one ever thought that breathing in and breathing out had an implicit cost. They have not decided at this point in time to charge for it, but they were thinking about charging for animals on farms. Do not think it is beyond them. They were thinking about that. They pushed away from it. They were going to start charging for cows and sheep. These are the same people who believe that cows, sheep and people are all sort of equivalent. So I suppose it makes sense in the long course of things that you would have to start charging people. Every time you breathe in, as Senator Williams will tell you, that is 386 parts per million of carbon dioxide, and every time you breathe out it is 40,000 parts per million. There must be an implicit cost there. You are not morally righteous: you are warming the globe as you breathe. This is absolutely and utterly absurd.

Of course, it is worse for regional Australia because the further you go the more for transport you pay: the greater the distance, the higher the cost. Electricity in the regions will also be at a higher cost. For what? So that we can assuage the moral righteousness of a certain group of people who, by making you feel guilty, have now managed to manufacture a tax and enmesh it in every corner of your life. Unfortunately, a lot of people have been gullible and have swallowed it.

I would say that always the first job of the fourth estate is to be sceptical. What is the crime of scepticism? The job of the fourth estate is to be sceptical. One of the philosophical virtues of the fourth estate is its scepticism. We do not need a fourth estate if people are not sceptical. If people just take whatever we say as the truth, scepticism is purposeless. I get terribly annoyed when it is said that a certain media house is not complying with an edict given to them by the Labor Party and the Greens—that the fourth estate dare be sceptical; dare to question. Of course they have to question. That is their job. But the more questions that are asked, the more answers we seem not to be provided with.

We are going down this absolutely manic path at a time of total and utter economic uncertainty and when really the only thing we should be focusing on is how we quarantine ourselves from the turmoil of Europe. We know that Europe is just another report away from another market fluctuation and a downturn. How do we quarantine ourselves from the loss of manufacturing jobs to South-East Asia? How do we quarantine ourselves from the exposures that we are currently creating? What are we doing that is prudent? What are we doing that is actually putting our nation in a strong place? Are we being conservative and provident, or are we on a frolic that is highly dangerous. Is it something that we can rewind from?

I might remind you that last week the government extended the debt by $200 million on Friday and then on Sunday they just flicked in, under 'Australian government securities outstanding', another $1.7 billion. We are now at $215-plus billion in gross debt. Our ceiling is $250 billion. We have just extended our ceiling because we bashed through it, otherwise the whole place would have shut down when we got to the limit of our overdraft. Now we are only $35 billion from the next ceiling and we are borrowing about $2 billion a week. If they do not extend the ceiling, we have got big problems. In an environment like that I would not be going down the path of a carbon tax. I would be doing everything in my power to try and make the business as strong as possible. I would be doing everything in my power to make sure we have the money in the future to support hospitals, to support manufacturing jobs and to support agriculture. I would be doing everything to batten down the hatches. If we go down this path, we are doing everything in our power to make the future of our nation a very scary place.