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Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Page: 5201

Senator McEWEN (3:17 PM) —I too would like to contribute to this debate today and take note of answers given by Senator Wong to questions from the opposition about the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. I cannot help but start by acknowledging Senator Boswell’s comments. I have to say, I think I have heard Senator Boswell’s speech before. Once again, I would like to point out that, despite his claim that the Labor Party has deserted blue-collar workers, it was his party that deserted blue-collar workers when they introduced the Work Choices legislation—and those workers of Australia handsomely repaid the now opposition for introducing Work Choices by in fact voting them out at the last federal election.

This is the second day this week that the opposition have asked Minister Wong questions about the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. That of course is the scheme that they voted down last Thursday when they voted against the legislation that would have set Australia on the path to reducing our carbon emissions. The legislation that we put before the parliament last week was for a CPRS that was responsible, including economically responsible, and measured, and that compensated emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries such as the steel industry, as indeed it contemplated compensating lower middle income households. Those two factors of the legislation they defeated never seemed to figure in the discussions the opposition had here in the chamber.

The CPRS was to have been but one of a range of measures introduced by the government to address climate change. As has been pointed out by previous speakers, one of the first things that the government did on coming to office was ratify the Kyoto protocol. We have also introduced a number of other measures to deal with climate change, which most of the opposition apparently still do not believe in. The evidence of that—that they do not believe in climate change—is apparent every day that they ask the minister questions about the CPRS.

Instead of assisting the nation to move to being a low-carbon-emission nation, which most of the rest of the developed world is attempting to do, this opposition simply comes up with a range of furphies and a fear campaign to try and justify its complete lack of a position on how to deal with the very real problem of climate change and carbon emissions. The range of furphies that they have come up with this week includes, once again, including agriculture in the ETS when of course, as has been pointed out, agriculture was not included in the legislation that they defeated last week. Yesterday, I think, we had questions about CPI increases arising from the implementation of an ETS. The government has already acknowledged that such bold and courageous legislation does not come without a cost; however, the government has a number of initiatives in place, as I previously discussed, to deal with that.

And today we had the steel industry and then border taxes as the latest furphies that the opposition have put on the table to try and cover up their complete lack of policy and their complete lack of direction on the single most important issue facing the Australian nation. I suppose that tomorrow they will ask some more questions, because they will probably still not have a position on it. It will be curious to see how it pans out with the renewable energy target legislation that the government wants to introduce as the next important phase of assisting the nation to address the problems of climate change and global warming.

Despite professing to be the party that represents business, the coalition have again demonstrated today in their questions during question time that they are not committed to supporting business, because they will not commit to the certainty that is needed in this country to address climate change for the future. (Time expired)