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Monday, 23 November 2009
Page: 8547


Senator POLLEY (3:06 PM) —Question time in this place is getting more bizarre by the day. It is the last week of the Senate sitting, and those opposite have no strategy or tactics when it comes to question time. We had an opposition National Party senator get up and ask a question today in relation to fire strategies. Yet when it comes to the emissions trading scheme, they want to run a hundred miles away and deny that there is anything happening as far as the climate is concerned. When talking about national parks and state reserves, I find it astonishing that a senator would come in and ask a federal minister about something that is clearly within the bounds of the state governments. Why aren’t these questions being put to the New South Wales government? Why would you, in the final week of the Senate, ask such a bizarre question of a federal minister? We have had nothing for weeks in relation to the economy—no questions on the economy. What is clearly foremost in the minds of those opposite is disunity. The common goal that too many of those opposite have is to undermine their own leader. They bring questions into this chamber on topics that clearly lie with the state government of New South Wales.

In terms of fire strategy and what we need to do in relation to ensuring that we do not have a repeat of the terrible disaster in Victoria earlier this year that we are all impacted by, of course we need to take steps. The federal government is taking its responsibilities in that area very seriously. In fact, the Commonwealth government has committed over $26 million to assist the states and territories develop a national telephone based emergency warning system. Those things are incredibly important, but it still comes back to the old question about climate change. Senator Williams has already left the chamber, which shows how little interest he really has in this issue. He denies that climate change is a fact.


Senator Cash interjecting—


Senator Back interjecting—


Senator POLLEY —You always know when you hit a nerve when those Western Australian sceptics interject—two of them, at least. Once again, when you hit a nerve, they have to divert attention away from their own disunity and their scepticism regarding climate change.


Senator Ian Macdonald —Tell us about Shane Murphy. He was a good example of disunity in the Labor Party.


Senator POLLEY —I am more than happy to take any interjections from Senator Macdonald. If you want to talk about disunity, let us talk about disunity. Disunity is running rife within the Liberal Party. Where are they? No wonder they have no policy when it comes to climate change; they have no—


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Polley, I think that perhaps if you want to talk about this you should do it at a different time. We are taking note of the answers that Senator Wong gave to questions. I think that you should revert to the subject matter before the chair.


Senator POLLEY —Mr Deputy President, in relation to the interjections about disunity, surely I have a right to respond.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —No. Ignore the interjections.


Senator POLLEY —Those are already out there in the chamber, Mr Deputy President. It is an important point to make in relation to not only this issue, which is natural disasters, but climate change and the economy. On this side of the chamber, we are united. Talking about people from the past is completely irrelevant to the debate that we are having here this afternoon.

When it comes to farmers and the farming community, talking to those from my home state of Tasmania, we have already experienced fires. In fact, over the last few days in Tasmania the fires have in fact been quite disastrous. A couple of homes have already been lost. It is already very evident to the Australian community that natural disaster and bushfire planning and prevention all tie in with climate change. I urge those opposite to take this time to reflect. Then they should support the emissions trading scheme. (Time expired)