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Thursday, 13 August 2009
Page: 4899

Senator IAN MACDONALD (3:03 PM) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Climate Change and Water (Senator Wong) and the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship (Senator Evans) to questions without notice asked by Senators Abetz and the Leader of the Australian Greens (Senator Bob Brown) today relating to the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

What a pathetic sight on the government benches at 11.30 am today—the forlorn Minister for Climate Change and Water realising that it was all over, the game was up. After months of hyperbole, bluff, bluster and finger-pointing, the reality came home to roost to the Labor Party that Australia would not wear the job-destroying, poorly-designed ETS of Senator Wong and Mr Rudd. The reality came home to them that Australians were starting to realise that nothing Australia might do in advance of the rest of the world would make one iota of difference to the changing climate of the world.

While the minister certainly looked forlorn this morning, this was in fairly stark contrast to many behind her on the government benches. Their look of relief was palpable. I challenge Labor members who are going to speak in this debate—and I see Senator Furner writing madly—to put their hand on their heart and say that they were not pleased that this job-destroying proposal has been put to rest. Those Labor members who reluctantly sat on that side of the chamber realise like us, particularly those members who sat through any one of the three or four Senate committees have that have looked at this very closely, that jobs would be lost. Those from Queensland realise what a devastating impact this Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme would have had on workers and families. Mine workers in the Bowen Basin coalfields, in the mineral-processing area in Gladstone, in the power industry, in the cement industry in Gladstone, in the copper industry, in the nickel industry, in the zinc industry in Townsville and in Mount Isa were quite terrified that, had this gone through today, their jobs would have been put at risk. Labor members know as well as we do that this ill-conceived, poorly-designed scheme would have certainly meant job loses.

They realise also, as do most sensible Australians, that Australia acting on its own will not make one iota of difference to the changing climate. There is the breathtaking lie that has been propagated by the ALP and supported by the Greens political party, as they did in question time today, that, had we passed ETS legislation today, the Barrier Reef would have been saved. No-one is more concerned about the Barrier Reef than I. No-one is more proud of the Barrier Reef than I. No-one understands the same as I the importance of that natural wonder not only to the natural ecology but also to jobs and employment along the North Queensland coast. To suggest—as the ALP and Greens do—that passing a bit of legislation in Australia will have any impact on the Great Barrier Reef is simply a lie. They have tried to propagate that lie around Australia, but I think people are realising that, unless the world takes action—unless China, the United States, India, Russia, Indonesia, Columbia, South Africa and Argentina get on board and do something about it—Australia, with its less than 1.4 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, doing something will have no impact at all.