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Monday, 20 March 2017
Page: 1370

Climate Change

Senator ROBERTS (Queensland) (14:32): As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia, my question is for Senator Birmingham, who is representing the Minister for the Environment and Energy. On Monday, 13 February 2017, Senator Birmingham repeatedly avoided answering my direct and specific questions inviting and requiring specific answers. As a consequence of Senator Birmingham's behaviour over many years in this regard, my questions are shaped so as to be simple and easy to answer. My questions today require only one-word answers—specifically 'yes' or 'no'. My first question to the minister is: do you wholly or in part base your climate and energy policies, as the former Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt stated, on CSIRO's advice—yes or no?

Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training) (14:33): I will do my best for Senator Roberts, although the framing of your question, asking whether we wholly or in part base our actions on CSIRO evidence, does, of course, by its nature, invite an answer slightly more than one word, which is, indeed: we certainly, in part, base it on CSIRO evidence, but we draw from many different scientific agencies to inform the government's decision-making.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Roberts, a supplementary question.

Senator ROBERTS (Queensland) (14:33): Did you know, Senator Birmingham, that the CSIRO relies on information in reports from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, without doing due diligence for itself—yes or no? And did you know that the CSIRO repeatedly refuses to say whether there is any danger due to carbon dioxide from human activity—yes or no?

Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training) (14:34): Again, there were quite a number of questions loaded up there for a 'yes' or 'no' answer at the end, Senator Roberts. But the CSIRO do, indeed, cooperate with many international agencies. They share their data, findings and information with those agencies and, indeed, they receive information and data from those agencies. They cooperate with many other Australian government agencies—in particular, of course, the Bureau of Meteorology in relation to climate science data, but also a number of other scientific institutions and research bodies from around the country. In the end, they undertake their independent analysis.

My understanding is that CSIRO have offered—in fact, I think they may have even had the chance—to debrief you, Senator Roberts. I am sure you know, as would other senators in this place, that the opportunity for senators to seek information and technical briefings from government agencies is always available.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Roberts, a final supplementary question.

Senator ROBERTS (Queensland) (14:34): Relying on the CSIRO means that you rely on the UN's IPCC. Did you know that in each of the UN's IPCC's latest reports, being 2001, 2007 and 2013, the sole core chapters in each report claiming unusual global warming and attributing it to human carbon dioxide—being chapters 12, 9 and 10 respectively—contain no empirical evidence for the claim of human causation—yes or no?

Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training) (14:35): Mr President, through you to Senator Roberts: that sounds very much, Senator Roberts, like your opinion and your assertion in relation to the content of those reports. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion and your assertions on those matters. The government will continue, as it always has, to seek the expert opinion and advice of relevant government agencies that will apply their own independent, thorough scientific assessment of all such research statements and documents.