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Monday, 8 February 2010
Page: 593

Mr HAYES (1:52 PM) —I rise, I think for the third time in the last 12 months, to speak in the House on the complex issue of climate change. Today I rise to support the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2010 and associated bills. I repeat what I have said on previous occasions: this side of the House is committed to taking action on climate change. This side of the House believes that it is not only in our immediate interest but in the interests of those to whom we intend to bequeath our standards of living and our Australia in the future. It is one of those things that we ought not take for granted. As parents—and I imagine that there are many parents up in the galleries—we do want the best for our children. We see that in education and in just about every aspect of our lives. As parents we want to bequeath to our kids the same standards, if not better, than those we grew up with. That is a natural position for us as parents to take—maybe it is magnified in my case because I am a grandparent. We are looking for the betterment of the environment that we wish to leave to our families, to our future generations.

That is why this is a such a significant debate in this House. It is significant because it is something that we have already agreed to. As everyone here, including those who are in the galleries, are aware, it is not that long ago that a unanimous position was adopted that both the opposition and the government alike would work with the science of climate change and come up with a responsible and efficient mechanism by which we could approach it. I grant you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that it was not necessarily the total solution, but it was certainly a positive direction in which we could move towards ameliorating the effects of climate change to protect future generations. We did that in company with the opposition, through the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Turnbull. As a matter of fact, we went on to have a series of negotiations with the opposition. Throughout these negotiations one of the crucial things was that the opposition agreed to put various amendments on the table—a series of amendments. As you would recall, Mr Deputy Speaker, we had already introduced our CPRS legislation and the opposition wanted a series of amendments.

Those discussions took place over a period of around six to eight weeks, and, wouldn’t you know it? We on this side of the House agreed with every single one of those amendments. In good faith bargaining you would say, ‘That’s a deal.’ But, no, we have come back here to find that members on the other side of the chamber now want to change not only what the deal was but also the rationale behind it. They disagreed, to the point that they changed leaders, that they went into a bona fide set of negotiations with us with a view to entering into an agreement if we could reach an accommodation on their specific amendments to the CPRS legislation.

As I said, we had actually reached an agreement. For some of us, I think, there might be certain views on whether our agreement should have been on all of the amendments. Nevertheless, we found an agreement through good-faith bargaining with the other side of this chamber to work on those differences, and we agreed to a package which we say was a solution by which the CPRS could go forward. What do we see now? Scurrying around on the other side, as they want to slink off and disagree with the whole concept.

I do not know who the joke was played on, whether it was on this side of the House or on the Australian community, but these are the people who went to the 2007 election, under John Howard, with the notion for an energy trading system. That was one of their policies. The only difference they had with us on that, except in some of the detail, was that they wanted their policy introduced by 2012, whereas we had a position that ours must be introduced by 2010. During the course of the debate, they got to a midway point where they said they would agree to an energy trading system provided it could be introduced by 2011. There was always going be that difference.

This is the same mob who come in here today and want to argue against the CPRS. There will be a litany of reasons as to why they oppose it. What this mechanism will do is put a price on carbon, which will allow the market to determine the price. I would have thought that having the market involved in determining the price of carbon would be appealing to the general philosophy of the Liberals. Clearly, in this instance, it is not. The reason it is not is that they were opposed outright to having any form of price put on carbon, opposed outright to having any form of ETS established, because they wanted to change the policies when they changed leaders of the party.

As I have said, this is a very significant debate. It is a debate not just about Australia here and now but about Australia in the future. Either we stand and be counted and make a difference or we invite the question: why are we here? I listened intently to the first speech of the member for Higgins. Despite the fact that we might have some differences in political outlook, I gathered from her speech, and I compliment her on it, that she is here to make a difference. I would think it goes without saying that every member of this chamber is in politics in order to make a difference. There cannot be any greater issue that we need to pursue at this stage—people have referred to it as the greatest moral issue of the time—than looking to the protection of our environment and address the effects of climate change. This is something that we need to focus on in building this country and setting a path for the future. To do that we need a solid suite of policies. At the centre of that is what was identified some time ago when the Stern report was brought down—that is, having an ETS established, one of the most efficient forms of regulation, putting a price on carbon and being able to generate the various low-carbon-emitting industries and technologies that flow from having a price on carbon.

I have had the opportunity of working for renewable energy companies in the past. I am still in contact with those companies now. I know their frustration in not having a price set on carbon and in not being able to commercialise their technologies for the betterment of this country. These are things that must be taken into account.

The SPEAKER —Order! In accordance with standing orders, the debate is interrupted. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for a later hour this day. The honourable member for Werriwa will have leave to continue his remarks.