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Thursday, 28 February 2013
Page: 1378


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (18:51): I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

This is about natural disaster recovery work in Queensland and Victoria. They indicate that I was minded to speak on this issue after the performance of Senator Macdonald in his earlier contribution where he talked about the issue of climate change.

I want to talk about it in the scientific terms—I have been advised by the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Climate Commission and the Australian Academy of Science—and actually get back to some of the real issues that we are dealing with.

Senator Macdonald has been here are very, very, very, very long time. I think we are starting to see that he is really not injecting much sense into the debates. In my view it is about time he gave it away, because he is so predictable. He is absolutely predictable on every issue he stands upon. He is no more predictable on any issue than he is on climate change.

You only have to look at the weather patterns that we have around the country to understand that there are real issues. The problem for the coalition is that they do not seem to understand the difference between weather and climate. Weather is a short-term phenomenon that we deal with; climate is a long-term phenomenon. You have to look at what is happening with weather over a period of time to determine what is happening in the climate. I would rather listen to the CSIRO, the Australian Academy of Science, the Bureau of Meteorology and the academy of science of every developed country in the world, who say that there are huge issues that the world has to deal with.

The glib nature in which the coalition deal with this issue is just not in the interests of future generations of this country. Their Direct Action Plan is a joke. It will not deliver the changes that are required. It will not demonstrate to the rest of the world the Australian leadership that John Howard, the previous coalition Prime Minister, said we should. It will not do that. It is a Greg Hunt, patched together approach to try and say there is a policy that is different from the government's policy. When you look at that policy you have to shake your head, because it is really not dealing with the issues that the CSIRO say we have to deal with. Mr Malcolm Turnbull, in the other place, has clearly described Mr Hunt's policy as 'not very good', and that is being kind. It is like that because he does understand that from time to time governments and oppositions have to deal with the scientific facts. And the scientific facts are clear—that climate change is on us, we have to deal with it, we have to mitigate against it, and we have to protect future generations.

Senator Macdonald should actually be an advocate for mitigation and an advocate for science—the advocate for North Queensland that he says is. If he was a real advocate for Queensland and North Queensland he would be saying, 'We have to do something real in relation to climate change,' because the storms that we have had recently are consistent with the modelling that has been done internationally as to what is going to happen in Australia. It is consistent with the modelling that has been done by the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, which shows that more extreme weather incidents will take place. That is what we are seeing. We are seeing communities now being wiped out—homes and businesses that have been insured for years and years not being able to get insurance.

When you trace the issues that we are facing it goes back, as the Bureau of Meteorology point out, to the start of the Industrial Revolution. You can trace the increase in CO2 from the Industrial Revolution to where we are now. You can model that where it is going to head. You can model the implications. It is physics. I was hopeless at physics at school. I do not know anything about physics—except the advice that we get from the people that actually do physics for a living, the scientists.

The scientists would scoff at Senator Macdonald's performance tonight. It is easy to come in here and run all the glib lines that might go down well with the climate change deniers in the coalition: 'Ho, ho, ho!' 'What a job you did, Senator Macdonald. You were your usual self. You were there denying there was any change to the climate. Senator Macdonald, how good are you!' But, really, that is just really a denial of the future for future generations in this country. It really is disgraceful.

Senator Macdonald could not help himself. He is back. And so he should be back. If he would deal with the science and not the politics of climate change, he would actually be putting future generations before political opportunism. That is what Senator Macdonald does all the time in here. It is political opportunism mixed with a bit of smear, mixed with a bit of vitriol and mixed with a bit of attack on individuals—and we will see that again tonight. That is Senator Macdonald's bread and butter. He is a one-trick pony. He has been here far too long. That is the reality.

I take the view, not being a physicist and not understanding science to a great degree, that I take advice. I take advice from the CSIRO. I take advice from the Bureau of Meteorology. I take advice from the Academy of Science. And I say: 'Give the planet the benefit of the doubt. Give the kids of the future the benefit of the doubt. Do not come here and play short-term politics with the climate.'

Do not come here and play short-term politics, as Senator Macdonald does every day he is on his feet in this chamber. Actually think about the future generations of this country and give future generations the benefit of the doubt that the scientists have got this right. The scientists are saying to politicians around the world that you have to deal with this issue. I would say to Senator Macdonald, who was speaking on the CSIRO the last time he was on his feet: 'Have a read of what the scientists in the CSIRO say about climate change. Read the climate change book that the CSIRO have produced.' Senator Macdonald, you should be absolutely ashamed of yourself because you are putting yourself and your political position before the needs of the North Queensland, before the needs of future generations in this country and before the needs of the environment. I think it is time, Senator Macdonald, that you stopped being a one-trick pony and you started looking at these issues and the reality of the scientific facts that are before us. Australians deserve better from their politicians.

Debate interrupted.