Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 8 February 2010
Page: 570

Dr JENSEN (12:07 PM) —I wish to speak on the misnamed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2010 and related bills. Carbon in its natural state is graphite. Is that what the government is attempting to ban? If you cannot get the basic terminology right even in the title of the bill, how are we supposed to believe that you are across all of the other issues relating to this?

Today I want to talk about that old adage that we all know to be true: whenever a Labor politician has a good idea, Australians have less money. Be it interest rates or inflation deficits or taxing anything and everything, Australians know a Labor government means that they will have less money in their pockets. The ETS legislation is a continuation of what all Australians know as the third certainty in life: that is, death, taxes and Labor pinching money out of your back pocket.

This ETS will rob the average Australian—or, just for the Prime Minister and his focus group, ‘working families’—out of their hard-earned money. The ETS is a highly complex engine for converting the useful, deployed wealth of our society into the least useful, most wasteful and insoluble substance on earth—pure profit for rich individuals. As we have seen overseas, the cap-and-trade systems create a speculative bubble which the finance industry loads up to suck vast sums of money out of middle- and lower-class wage-earners—those working families.

With the aid of an intellectually corrupt edifice, the ETS, the Labor Party has created a legal exchange for the bankers and financiers to strip money out of the working class. This money will be put straight into the retirement accounts of hedge fund managers and speculative money spinners. Prime Minister—or, should that be, cap-and-trade of the notorious pirate ship, Labor’s ETS tax—your government is trading not in carbon but in misery. Your pirates want to pillage the wallets of working Australians.

The process is that banks and investment houses position themselves in the middle of a growing speculative carbon bubble and sell to their clients investments that they know are junk. A few traders, fund managers and savvy financiers then make millions inflating the price of that commodity. Essentially, these financiers are peddling an element on the periodic table that is free to anybody any time. In the end game, the financial bubble caused by the carbon bubble goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving. The government will then ride to the rescue of us all by lending us back our own money at interest. Thank you, cap-and-trade.

Banks and financial institutions worldwide are preparing to do it all again—creating what may be the biggest and most audacious bubble yet. We have Mr Rudd and Ms Wong to thank for all that goes bust, though. The new carbon credit market is a virtual repeat of the commodities market casino that has been kind to Goldman, except it has one delicious new wrinkle: if the plan goes forward as expected, the rise in prices will be government mandated. Goldman will not even have to rig the game; it will be rigged in advance.

Here is how it works. If the bill passes, there will be limits for coal plants, utilities, natural gas distributors and numerous other industries on the amount of carbon emissions—also known as greenhouse gases—they can produce per year. If the companies go over their allocation, they will be able to buy allocations or credits from other companies that have managed to produce fewer emissions. President Obama conservatively estimates that about $646 billion worth of carbon credits will be auctioned in the first seven years. One of his top economic aides speculates that the real number might be twice or even three times that amount.

The feature of this plan that has a special appeal to speculators is that the cap on carbon will be continually lowered by the government, which means that carbon credits will become more and more scarce with each passing year. That means that the volume of this brand new commodities market, where the main commodity to be traded is guaranteed to rise in price over time, will be upwards of a trillion dollars annually. For comparisons sake, the annual combined revenues of all electricity suppliers in the US total $320 billion. The plan is for money-spinners to get in on the ground floor of paradigm-shifting legislation, make sure that they are the profit-making slice of that paradigm and make sure that the slice is a big slice.

The economic impacts of an emissions trading scheme for an Australian workers are mixed—both good and bad, depending on which end of the economic scale you sit. For low-income earners, the cost-of-living increases will push many elderly and poor into abject poverty. A crazy situation when you consider that my state, Western Australia, is at the beginning of another resources boom, which has already put upward pressure on everyday prices. No possible compensation the government is offering will fully cover the inflated cost-of-living increases. Many pensioners, seniors and veterans are already struggling with everyday bills and necessities. An ETS will put everyday items out of reach.

There are Australians who will benefit from an ETS, though—people who have seen it all before, a group of individuals whose job it is to turn ordinary commodities into tradeable profit. I am of course referring to bankers, fund managers and traders, who are circling the carbon market ready to turn the scheme into their next casino venture. What do I mean by casino venture? I am talking about financial institutions betting their houses on the market, which will wildly inflate the price of carbon credits. In this way those banks and financiers who foresaw this boondoggle and got it off the ground floor will all retire as wealthy people. They have a vested interest in seeing this legislation being enacted and have much to lose if it does not. Labor has put us in an all or nothing economic situation.

Our Prime Minister railed against the excesses of our market systems as the GFC hit fever pitch. It was, after all, market forces that inflated, caused and created the great bust of 1998. Yet on the greatest moral issue of our time where does he turn to solve these issues? The market. This new commodity market will see prices swing wildly up and down. Ultimately, a speculative bubble will be created, paper fortunes won and lost, and then it will all go horribly wrong when people realise the credits they are trading in are in fact worthless. The people who will be hit hardest are the mum and dad investors who will get caught up in the hysteria caused by the ETS—a huge, highly complex engine for converting the useful, deployed wealth of society into pure profit for rich individuals. The PM commented in Hansard on Tuesday, 2 February:

We in the government accept what the IPCC has said. We accept what the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia has said. We accept also what the Australian Chief Scientist has said.

The Prime Minister has obviously not been following the crisis in climate science: the junk science, the corruption, the collusion and the endemic lack of peer review. The member for Page talks about consensus. Think about consensus on religion here for a second. The consensus of trained experts is that a Christian god, in consensus terms, particularly in Australia, exists. So why do you reject that consensus? The fact is there is no such thing as consensus science. If there is a consensus, it is not science and if it is science it is not consensus—period. I will quote the late, great Michael Crichton on some of the history of consensus science and the damage that it can do:

In past centuries, the greatest killer of women was fever following childbirth. One woman in six died of this fever.

In 1795, Alexander Gordon of Aberdeen suggested that the fevers were infectious processes, and he was able to cure them. The consensus said no.

In 1843, Oliver Wendell Holmes claimed puerperal fever was contagious, and presented compelling evidence. The consensus said no.

In 1849, Semmelweiss demonstrated that sanitary techniques virtually eliminated puerperal fever in hospitals under his management. The consensus said he was a Jew, ignored him, and dismissed him from his post. There was in fact no agreement on puerperal fever until the start of the twentieth century. Thus the consensus took one hundred and twenty five years to arrive at the right conclusion despite the efforts of the prominent ‘skeptics’ around the world, skeptics who were demeaned and ignored. And despite the constant ongoing deaths of women.

There is no shortage of other examples. In the 1920s in America, tens of thousands of people, mostly poor, were dying of a disease called pellagra. The consensus of scientists said it was infectious, and what was necessary was to find the ‘pellagra germ.’ The US government asked a brilliant young investigator, Dr. Joseph Goldberger, to find the cause. Goldberger concluded that diet was the crucial factor. The consensus remained wedded to the germ theory.

Goldberger demonstrated that he could induce the disease through diet. He demonstrated that the disease was not infectious by injecting the blood of a pellagra patient into himself, and his assistant. They and other volunteers swabbed their noses with swabs from pellagra patients, and swallowed capsules containing scabs from pellagra rashes in what were called ‘Goldberger's filth parties.’ Nobody contracted pellagra.

The consensus continued to disagree with him. There was, in addition, a social factor—southern States disliked the idea of poor diet as the cause, because it meant that social reform was required. They continued to deny it until the 1920s. Result—despite a twentieth century epidemic, the consensus took years to see the light.

Probably every schoolchild notices that South America and Africa seem to fit together rather snugly, and Alfred Wegener proposed, in 1912, that the continents had in fact drifted apart. The consensus sneered at continental drift for fifty years. The theory was most vigorously denied by the great names of geology—until 1961, when it began to seem as if the sea floors were spreading. The result: it took the consensus fifty years to acknowledge what any schoolchild sees.

In the Australian context the views of our Nobel Prize winners, Warren and Marshall, ran counter to the consensus view on ulcers and, in fact, Barry Marshall induced ulcers within himself to demonstrate the cause. Once again, the consensus rejected that and they are now Nobel Prize winners. On 3 December Australia’s Chief Scientist, Penny Sackett, was warning that climate oblivion was only a few years away:

Like the world’s leading climate scientists, Professor Sackett argues that there are about five years to avoid the dangerous damage generated if average global temperatures increased by more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. As it stands now, she said, a 1.3 degree temperature rise is all but ‘locked in’.

‘To meet the 2 degree target, we must halt increases in global emissions by about 2015, and then decrease them dramatically and steadily thereafter.’

12:22:01 But as the Australian reported recently, ‘the consensus is receding faster than a Himalayan glacier’. It said:

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Penny Sackett, told the Australian last night that she shared Professor John Beddington’s concerns—

Professor Beddington is the British chief scientist—

Professor Sackett said climate change was a scientific reality but there was a need for absolute openness and rigour in the presentation of evidence, including recognition of which aspects of (the) science were imprecise and required further research.

I recall Professor Sackett giving evidence to the science committee and that she was not aware of the fact that the relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide is logarithmic. It is a relationship that goes back over 100 years and is represented in all the IPCC reports. She has the belief, but this fundamental relationship eluded her at the time.

I have heard a lot of argument about precautionary principle. The government has used that argument a lot. Let us turn it around. The government wants to impose a great big new tax on the Australian people. Consider this: what if it is wrong? What if the vaunted consensus position changes? After all, if you had been making an argument 40 years ago for controlling the climate, you would have been looking at a scheme to stop the coming ice age, given that the scientific consensus at the time was that we were headed towards another ice age.

Consider this: the government has proposed a great big new tax that is designed for one purpose and one purpose only—that is, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Consensus changes and the Australian people will have to pay this tax forever. The beauty of our scheme is that it is flexible. If the consensus changes, the policy can be changed. Our policy has distinct environmental advantages, including improving crop yields, getting more efficient underground transmission infrastructure and improving visual pollution.

We hear a lot of discussion about how the world agrees that the ETS is a wonderful scheme. Think about this: the ETS has not been particularly effective in Europe. It has not been particularly effective at reducing CO2 emissions and certainly it has not been a very stable commodity to trade. Insanity is to keep doing the same thing and hoping for a different result. Even Britney Spears, of all people, sings:

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

The government’s ETS tax has no mechanisms to actually reduce CO2 emissions. It is just a tax, and then they hope that the market will drive solutions. The government is corrupt enough in their view of this thing that they will not even consider the one method that really can bring down CO2 emissions—that is, nuclear power. Labor’s criticism of our scheme is based on soil carbons not being counted in international agreements. Who cares? Does the environment know if a molecule of CO2 is removed from the atmosphere using soil sequestration or tree sequestration? Clearly, the environment does not give a damn where the carbon dioxide is sucked into. It just demonstrates how badly constructed international agreements are on this, as evidenced by Copenhagen.

Kerry O’Brien, Tony Jones and David Koch criticise from the safety of not allowing counterargument on their programs. I have challenged both Koch and Jones to have me on to discuss the science—funnily enough, they lack the guts to interview me on it. The members for Leichhardt and Lowe have suggested that members on this side who might agree with an ETS—and there are precious few of them, I might add—should cross the floor. How about letting some of the sceptics on the other side of the House cross the floor? I know of at least four cabinet ministers who are sceptics, but they do not have the guts to say so in public, never mind crossing the floor.

On 2 February, Minister Combet said:

What we have from the other side here is political opportunism, a recognition on the basis of their lack of acceptance of the science—their lack of respect for internationally peer reviewed science in the IPCC fourth assessment report.

We have seen numerous problems with the IPCC fourth assessment report. We have seen numerous instances where propaganda articles from the WWF and Greenpeace are taken at face value and simply accepted as if they were peer reviewed science. On the other hand, there is the issue around Phil Jones, one of the lead authors with the IPCC and head of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, when he talked about changing the definition of what constitutes peer review. (Time expired)