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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9199

Mr BROADBENT (McMillan) (21:07): I seek the indulgence of the House just for a moment before I speak to the bill. I was looking tonight at this book, Lake Eyre: A Journey Through the Heart of the Continent, and it had the name Paul Lockyer on it, with photographs and support by John Bean and Gary Ticehurst. It is 12 months since that inexplicable, tragic accident happened. I know that for us, life moves on. I did not know any of these three people, but those family members, and those who were close to them, and many in outback Australia, will be really feeling it at this time. I would just like to identify with them, 12 months on from that accident, and to say what wonderful men they were and what a wonderful contribution they made to this nation.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Dr Leigh ): I thank the member for McMillan for his well-chosen words.

Mr BROADBENT: It is 40 days since I sent a letter out to my electorate through the local newspapers, mentioning the Greg Sheridan article in the Weekend Australian of 11-12 July. All I asked in that letter was that Minister Combet answer the queries put within that article that were negative about the carbon tax and what it will do for Australia. All I asked for was some veracity, some truth. But at this stage neither the minister, Greg Combet, nor any of his colleagues have addressed the specific issues raised by Sheridan—namely, the Productivity Commission findings that no economy in the world has produced a scheme such as Australia's tax at $23 a tonne. The US does not have a national scheme, nor Canada, nor China. South Korea is yet to develop one. New Zealand has modified its already low-price scheme. India is not considering anything until after 2020, and then only wants Western dollars.

Despite the minister's answer to the dorothy dixer in question time last Thursday, the EU, where some trading exists, has a permit price as low as $7 or $8—which would make an enormous difference to my power station or, rather, to the member for Gippsland's power station—and to my workers as well as to his workers. According to Swiss banking giant UBS Investment Research, the EU ETS cost $278 billion through 2011, and its effect on the reduction of emissions was 'almost zero impact'. Experts doubt that an international trading scheme will ever work. For example, there are doubts over the veracity of the permits emanating out of China. Lastly, there is no evidence to show that a market based system of trading actually reduces carbon emissions.

These are only the reasons that I am asking Greg Combet, the minister, to look at the Sheridan article of 40 days ago, to take it apart piece by piece, and give the Australian people the opportunity to say: 'Righto, there is a criticism—and here is the answer from the government. Here is a definitive response from the government on these issues.' My workers in the Latrobe Valley, along with the member for Gippsland's workers in the Latrobe Valley, actually deserve a response. They deserve a response to an article that clearly says, this puts Australia at a disadvantage. And it was not just Greg Sheridan; he was quoting two other experts.

Now the member opposite may grin and have a little cheer, but he should come down and see my workers, who are really concerned about their futures and who are really concerned that they have been dudded by the party that they voted for. Do you know what sort of vote I get in their area? Twenty-five per cent. And if I have a good election campaign, I get 26 per cent. They are solid, down-to-earth, hardworking Labor voters. The member opposite can grin all he likes, because he is not grinning at me—he is grinning at those voters. And I can tell you something, if they vote the way they voted during the last election campaign, that grin will be wiped so far off his face he will not know which way to run.

Having said that, all I am asking tonight is for one minister in the government of the day to go and answer a simple article that was put in the Australian on 11 July. That was 40 days ago, and there has not been one response. And if I have to get up in this parliament tomorrow, and the day after, it will be 41 days, and 42 days, and he will not have answered the question.

I know there are really good reasons for this nation to reduce its emissions and, perhaps, take a world lead. But this government is not going about it in a way that is good for this nation. It is certainly not good for Gippsland. We are the ones who are, once again, going to take the brunt of massive changes in Australia's approach to emissions. We have already been through the privatisation of the power industry, where we lost as many as 8,000 jobs in one hit. And now here we are at the forefront of this whole issue again. I am out of time, but I look forward to the next five days, when the minister may consider a response.