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Monday, 23 November 2009
Page: 8543

Senator JOYCE (Leader of the Nationals in the Senate) (2:50 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Wong. Is the minister aware of reports in today’s Australian, the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal and other leading world newspapers documenting Kevin Trenberth, the IPCC lead author in 2001-07, when he said:

… we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.

Is the minister also aware of the director of the British Climatic Research Unit, Phil Jones, and emails that talk of ‘tricks’ to hide the decline in global warming? Or Phil Jones’ statement that he ‘cheered’ at the death of John L Daly in Launceston, a scientists and climate sceptic, in 2004? Is the minister also aware of the culture within the East Anglia University Climate Research Unit that has strong links, as demonstrated, with the IPCC of intimidation towards the free expression of views on climate change, referring to sceptical colleagues— (Time expired)

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —I am asked about a free exchange of views on climate change. What I would say to the chamber is that we on this side are very happy to have that debate. But what we know is that Senator Joyce and those on that side—

Opposition senators interjecting—

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Wong, resume your seat. Your comments should be addressed to the chair.

Senator Bernardi —Mr President, I rise on a point of order. I think Senator Wong has just misled the Senate, because otherwise there would not be censorship of the CSIRO reports where they dispute climate change.

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Bernardi, that is not a point of order. It is a debating point, but it is not a point of order. Senator Wong, address your comments to the chair and continue.

Senator WONG —Through you, Mr President, what is clear to every senator, and to any Australian who is interested in what the Senate is doing, is that Senator Joyce, Senator Bernardi, Senator Minchin and many others on that side are not interested in the facts. It does not matter how many facts are put before them, they have a clear, rigid, ideological view—

The PRESIDENT —Order! Resume your seat. Senator Joyce is on his feet.

Senator Joyce —Mr President, a point of order on relevance: the direction of the question is whether the minister is aware of these absolute insults and accusations that have been hurled at other people overseas now that they have seen the light of day through these emails. Are you aware of it, Minister, or not or is that conveniently ignored—an inconvenient truth?

The PRESIDENT —That is not a point of order; that is a repeat of the question. Senator Wong, I advise you that you have one minute and 23 seconds remaining to answer the question.

Senator WONG —I am very happy to continue. The convenient ignoring in this chamber is by elected senators who went to the last election with a policy to act on climate change and now are spending an enormous amount of their time, an enormous amount of backgrounding and an enormous amount of column inches in the paper to do whatever they can to avoid action on climate change and to stymie any action on climate change. That is the real politics of what is happening here. There are people—

Opposition senators interjecting—

Senator WONG —QED.

Senator Joyce interjecting—

10000 PRESIDENT, The 1The PRESIDENT—There is no point of order.

Senator Ludwig interjecting—

The PRESIDENT —Senator Ludwig, I am ruling.

Senator Ludwig —Mr President, this goes to two parts: (1) the minister is being relevant and (2) this is the second time Senator Joyce has jumped to his feet to restate the question. In addition to that—

The PRESIDENT —Senator Ludwig, that is not a point of order.

Senator Boswell —Senator Ludwig is clearly disobeying your instructions. You told him you were ruling and he completely ignored you—

The PRESIDENT —Senator Boswell, resume your seat. That is not a point of order. Senator Joyce, I cannot instruct a minister how to answer the question. The answer they may give you may not be to your liking or suit the answer that you have in your own mind, but I cannot instruct the minister. I draw the minister’s attention—

Senator Faulkner interjecting—

The PRESIDENT —Just let me finish. I have not finished yet, Senator Faulkner. I cannot instruct the minister. The minister does have 49 seconds remaining in which to address the question that you have raised.

Senator Faulkner —Mr President, a further point of order: it is not a major point of order but four or five times now during question time senators from around the chamber have taken what have been described as points of order. You have given them the call, but they have not said their points of orders. With respect, I would suggest that the call should not be given to a senator who just stands up and starts to speak during question time.

Opposition senators interjecting—

Senator Faulkner —I have identified the fact that I am taking a point of order, which is incumbent on all senators. I would respectfully suggest that in future—

Opposition senators interjecting—

Senator Faulkner —Just so that you know, interjecting is also disorderly. Can I suggest, Mr President, that the call not be given to senators who just stand in their seat and begin to speak. They must take a point of order to be recognised by the chair.

The PRESIDENT —I am fairly tolerant of the way in which I conduct the business of the chamber. I do like people to identify that it is a point of order. I have ruled on the point of order that was raised by Senator Joyce initially. My aim is to get through the questions, and as many questions as is possible, so I am asking the minister to respond with 49 seconds remaining.

Senator WONG —In relation to the facts in this debate—which is one of the issues about which I was asked—again I remind the Senate of the extensive evidence, including from Australian scientists, about the fact of global warming, about the fact of the contribution that humanity is making to it through the carbon dioxide we are emitting and about the fact that Australia, according to our own Bureau of Meteorology, has experienced warmer than average mean annual temperatures for 17 of the last 19 years and that 13 of the 14 warmest years on record occurred between 1995 and 2008. The reality is that Senator Joyce simply does not want to believe this is real because he does not want— (Time expired)

Senator JOYCE —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Since the minister is apparently not aware of the intimidation that has been placed on colleagues overseas, is the minister aware of the CSIRO’s censoring of economist Dr Clive Spash that suggests a similar culture is present within Australia in relation to the climate change debate? Would you like to answer that one, Minister?

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —In relation to the CSIRO, that should probably be a question directed to Senator Carr, as the minister responsible for the CSIRO. But I will share with Senator Joyce what I have said publicly. I am happy to debate with this gentleman Dr Clive Spash or anyone else on why I believe and the government believes—and in fact the Liberal Party believed when they were in government—that a cap-and-trade system is more effective than a carbon tax. I am absolutely happy to debate that. I do not think anyone in this chamber would suggest that I have not been happy to debate the merits of the Australian government’s scheme. The reality is that Senator Joyce has said, when asked about the CPRS and about action on climate change, that his answer was no, no, no, no, no. I may not have got the number of noes quite correct, Senator. Everything he does and everything he says needs to be listened to with that in mind—that he comes to this debate with a completely closed mind—(Time expired)

Senator JOYCE —Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Now that the world has become aware of the intimidation that is rife—referring to sceptical colleagues as prats, charlatans and idiots, though they have similar qualifications as any of the other scientists—is the minister aware of a culture within her own department to censure open and transparent debate about climate change? Can the minister guarantee that no such censorship exists within the minister’s own department?

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —This government has been very willing to put into the public domain information about the latest climate science. We have put out a whole range of reports on this issue. I referred to one in answer to the question from Senator Moore, that had been put out by Professor Will Steffen. I released a report last Saturday—or possibly the Saturday before—in relation to the impact of climate change on Australia’s coast. These are factual reports which are put out and individuals within this country are very welcome to consider the science in those reports. What is happening here—and we all need to be very clear—is that those who oppose action are continuing to oppose action. That is it, clear and simple. You do not want to act on climate change and you never will.

Senator Chris Evans —Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.