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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6409

Mr ROBB (10:41 AM) —The issue that we are discussing and questioning here this morning, climate change, is an issue of great significance, and this side of the House takes it very seriously. That is why we express some enormous concerns. It is the biggest deliberate structural change that we will embark on in the history of this country. It needs to be properly considered and it needs widespread support. If it is to be embraced properly, if it is to be enduring and if there is not to be a community reaction against it, it needs to be understood and to be widely considered and supported.

The problem with the climate change legislation at the moment is that no-one supports it, including many in the government, although they are silenced. The Greens do not support it, community groups do not support it, the crossbenchers do not support it, the affected industries do not support it and individuals are not included and are opposed to it—it is friendless. The reason is twofold. It has been rushed and ill considered, because the government, in many respects, is playing politics with this issue. It is playing politics with the biggest deliberate structural change in our history. Because of the huge design problems associated with this bill and the loss of face in changing those design faults, in many respects, the bill has been maintained in such an awful form that almost no-one can support it and vote for it.

This suggests that the Prime Minister and the government are keen to use it to go to an early election, claiming that they have tried on climate change and everybody else is to blame for their inaction and their incompetence. That is the rationale driving the strategy of the government. They have not engaged in any meaningful way with anybody. There has been a ‘take it or leave it’ approach, despite the rhetoric in the public arena, which means that no-one’s consideration has been taken into account and constructive suggestions have not been embraced. This bill has been maintained in a form which is objectionable to everybody other than some in the government.

Our major concern is that the government have failed to identify the real impacts of this bill. They are seeking to force a vote through the impacts on regional Australia, where the employment effects will be most prominent, where most of the large energy intensive industries—trade exposed ones in particular—exist. The government say the Treasury modelling is the most comprehensive modelling ever undertaken and there is no need to do more; but the Treasury modelling took no account of the global financial crisis. I ask the minister this: why will the government not recalibrate the modelling? The modelling is being done. Why won’t you change some of the assumptions? Why won’t you push the button and give an output from that modelling which tells us and tells the community what the impact of the global financial crisis is? What is the impact if China does not come on board in 2015—which is the only assumption made in the modelling that has been done to date? What if India does not come on board by 2020? What if the United States does not start a scheme next year—which was the assumption in the modelling? What if all these countries—which are the major contributors to emissions and are our major competitors in the world—do not engage in a comparable scheme for 10 or 15 or 20 or even more years?

The design flaws in this model are such that, if those assumptions that were in the modelling originally do not hold, we are exposed as a community. We have jobs exposed. We have major industries in the minister’s own region which will not go ahead with investment, where lots of major resources will be put under severe pressure and where maintenance will not be maintained. We need answers. Why won’t this government model the many different scenarios and the other models before we make a decision and before we put this in place? (Time expired)