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Thursday, 13 August 2009
Page: 4900

Senator FEENEY (3:08 PM) —I am delighted to rise to take note of the same answer as the previous speaker. One can well imagine this morning that, in the strategy-making of the Liberal Party, when it was decided that once more into the breach they had to mount an argument today on climate change, Senator Macdonald drew the short straw. Once more into the breach, Senator Macdonald. I note that, over all of the ramblings and utterances of Senator Macdonald, not for a moment did he dwell or pause to talk to this chamber about the Liberals’ plan for action on climate change. That is because they have no such plan. This week, we have seen this comedy of Malcolm Turnbull and his united front with Senator Xenophon—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! I remind you that you must refer to people in the other place by their proper title.

Senator FEENEY —The honourable member for Wentworth and Senator Xenophon together offered up a policy—no, I get ahead of myself; they offered up an input. This united front with Senator Xenophon is something that is worth dwelling on for at least a moment, because it is a marriage made in heaven, Senator Macdonald. Yonder, we have a party in search of a policy. Senator Xenophon had a policy in search of a party. One magical moonlit night, the two met and came up with the intensity model to try and put forward as your last-minute excuse as to why you could not support action on climate change.

One of the things that struck me about this marriage of convenience with Senator Xenophon was, firstly, the irony of the fact that the 37 coalition senators opposite needed to crowd behind the credibility of Senator Xenophon in this debate, so wretched had their own credibility in this debate become. There was worse still. After this joint press conference with Senator Xenophon, my heart literally broke for Senator Fielding, with his loyalty to the sunspot theory and his commitment to backing the Liberal Party in this debate step by step. There he was, left out of the final press conference, abandoned and ditched once more for Senator Xenophon. No loyalty!

The faustian pact was not complete until they secured the Greens’ votes here today. The cost of doing nothing is what united these two great extremes of the debate here in Australia. Yonder, we have a party that cannot reach a position, a party that is ultimately filled with climate change deniers, a party that has put their leader at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. It is ‘Mission: Raise the Titanic’ over there for the Turnbull forces. Over here, we had a party that was saying, ‘My way or the highway: only an extreme solution or else no action whatsoever.’ It is the Labor Party that comes to this parliament and puts before the Australian people a plan—not a slogan, Senator Macdonald, and not a wild aspiration, but a plan.

The other thing I enjoy about this debate is the sheer ferocity that Minister Wong arouses in the enemy. I have to say, Minister Wong, that I derive enormous delight from the fact that your position, your competence and your effectiveness in this debate rouses the other side to a very fever pitch of ferocity of hostility. One thing that has been clear in this debate from the very beginning—to paraphrase Calwell—is that no matter where this debate has been, no matter at what point this debate has got to, at every stage the 37 whites opposite have not equalled a Wong. We have trounced you at every step and we have trounced you at every turn.


Senator Nash —Did somebody tell you that that was going to be a good line?

Senator FEENEY —Somebody did, Senator Nash. This debate has now finally reached a point where the Liberal Party and the National Party, amid a strange collection of allies of the moment, have actually defeated the CPRS legislation and adopted a policy of not having a policy. They have a leader whose credibility has been shredded and who offers inputs rather than plans. This is a party that now confronts the wrath of the Australian people because there is a strong determination in the broader community for there to be action on climate change. There is a sense that we must move and we must move now, that the costs of delay outweigh the costs of moving now. Senator Macdonald— (Time expired)