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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 990

Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (12:22): It is interesting that the Greens are pushing Labor, the party it does a good job of controlling most of the time, to reallocate a $100 million grant to develop renewable energies. Usually when Greens leader Senator Bob Brown says jump, the Prime Minister replies, 'How high?'

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member will be careful not to cause reflections on the Prime Minister.

Mr McCORMACK: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. The member for Melbourne has a lot to say, considering he is the only Green among the 150 members of the House of Representatives. Senator Brown has way too much influence in national politics, given that the Greens make up just 10 of the 226 representatives in the two houses of parliament. The way he and his lot carry on, you would think he was running the place.

The trouble is the Prime Minister and the government are letting them. Just before the 2010 election the recently appointed, not elected, Prime Minister told the Australian public, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.' Then, with Senator Brown front and centre, she went back on her word and announced, just five short months and one week later, that there would be a carbon tax. Making the carbon tax double-cross, the Prime Minister said there would be a smooth transition in its implementation. But in the supposed clean energy future of the Prime Minister, Labor and the Greens, carbon will have a $23 a tonne price at the beginning, which will go up and up and up; jobs will be lost overseas when our industries cannot compete with countries in which there is no carbon tax and energy is produced using far more emissions than here; and Mr and Mrs Average will be hit hard every time they buy the family groceries, fill up their car or get their electricity or gas bills. This is all thanks to the Greens and the undemocratic power they seem to be able to wield over a Prime Minister who does anything and says anything merely to keep her job. Meantime, the temperature—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member has been told. It is not appropriate to keep reflecting on the Prime Minister as such.

Mr McCORMACK: The Greens demanded an end to the 150-plus year tradition of cattle grazing in Victoria's alpine high country and the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities caved in. Now, graziers are not permitted to take their cattle—which used to do a fantastic job of eating the grass, which would otherwise become a fire hazard—into national parks. These parks will in time become a tinderbox and the tragic fires that blackened Victoria in the recent past, taking lives and destroying properties, will sadly reoccur, all for the sake of giving in to the Greens, who would have this country return to pre-First-Fleet conditions, given the chance.

The Greens want all the water in the Murray-Darling to flow down the system and out to sea, without giving farmers a chance to grow the food to feed this nation, and a good many more as well. This is a dangerous party with radical ideas. It is not an environmental party. It has a social agenda to change the shape of how our nation, certainly regional Australia, does things.

There are significant faults with the member for Melbourne's proposal. I do believe that the government is kidding itself if it honestly believes that China is not continuing to build dirty coal-fired power stations. The government is delusional if it accepts that. Australia has enormous reserves of coal, and the emissions of our power stations are low compared with those of China, which has one of the world's fastest growing economies and no plans to introduce a carbon tax.

Australia's energy needs will only grow into the future, providing of course that the carbon tax and Labor do not virtually shut down our manufacturing and mining sectors. The Greens' obsession with renewable investment is not backed up with results. Wind turbines, in most areas, do not do the job they are purported to do and are credited with. Often they are a con, something that is certainly a visual impact but little in the way of power creation. They often are physically damaging and are psychologically damaging for those unfortunate enough to live close by.

If the Gillard-Brown government wants to spend an investment that has been set aside by the coalition to help this nation it ought to be ensuring that the $5.8 billion budgeted for water-saving infrastructure in the Murray-Darling starts to hit the ground. Such a move would also have positive environmental implications. The water such investment would save would go a long way towards fixing the perceived problems in the Murray-Darling.

At present we are more than half-way through the consultation period on a bad draft, which would devastate regional communities. For what? All for the sake of wetlands regenerated by recent flooding, and those wetlands have always dried off in times of drought. We have a plan based on a disastrous decade-long drought, yet there are ridiculous and wasteful calls for over-bank watering of wetlands, which have lasted millennia due to the continual cycle of drought and flooding rains.

The Greens are not to be trusted with their demands on the government, and getting Labor to reinvest HRL Ltd's $100 million grant is a reckless idea in itself. This is a government that cannot handle money. Its fiscal record is a litany of waste and over-runs. Having Labor transfer grant money and put it into another scheme hatched by the Greens is asking for another school halls fiasco or a pink batts disaster. How anyone can trust Labor and the Greens to deliver any good? People cannot. The sooner we have an election the better. (Time expired)

Debate adjourned.