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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8266

Senator MASON (Queensland) (10:21): Just the other day I was looking at What a carbon price means for you: the pathway to a clean energy future. There are very few copies of this left because, I understand, most of them were sent back to Ms Gillard and Mr Combet. They are about as rare as Shakespeare's first folio. But I did manage to find one. It says on page 7:

The economy will continue to grow as Australia embraces a clean energy future.

Implicitly, the government is arguing that this tax promotes growth. No doubt they think it is a case of the higher the tax the greater the growth. We might want to tell the Greeks about that one! On page 7 it continues:

A carbon price is not a tax on households—it will be paid by Australia’s biggest polluters.

As if householders will not pick up the bill! They will pick up the bill.

Finally, the document says:

By 2020 the carbon price package will take 160 million tonnes of pollution out of the atmosphere every year. That’s the equivalent of taking forty-five million cars off the road.

But how much will it lower world temperatures by? Approximately zero. I think it was the great American talk-show host Rush Limbaugh who said, 'No country has ever taxed itself into prosperity,' but that is what the Labor Party and the Greens think you can do—tax carbon into prosperity. Only Labor and the Greens, beholden as they are to this sort of magic-pudding thinking, could claim that a new tax will help the economy. Only Labor and the Greens could claim that a new tax is needed to save the planet, even though it will have no impact at all on temperature. Only Labor and the Greens could try to shackle this country with a new tax even though similar policies have already cost one Prime Minister his job and even though the current proposal has sent Labor's primary vote to its lowest levels ever recorded in Australian history. This carbon tax does for Labor's vote what it cannot do for global temperatures.

Almost two years ago, nearly to the day, I stood here along with my colleagues in this chamber arguing against a similarly harebrained idea—the CPRS—embraced by Labor. During the debate two years ago, the coalition argued:

It is ultimate folly to try to rush through and pass an emissions trading scheme before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and before our major trading partners introduce similar schemes.

Guess what? Copenhagen was a dismal failure, as my colleague suggested it would be, and, two years on, none of our major trading competitors—not one; and they are the resource rich, trade exposed economies—are at all close to introducing similar schemes at home. We heard what the Canadian foreign minister said the other day: an emissions trading scheme is not on the agenda in Canada at all. In the United States, even when President Obama had huge majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives, he did not introduce a scheme because he knew it would be against the national interest of the US. Brazil, Russia, India and China—none of them is going to introduce a scheme. Before anyone shouts out 'what about the European Union?' I remind you that, as you know, it is a small, limp and corrupt market useful only for spivs, speculators and organised crime. It has been a disaster of a marketplace.

It seems that, at a time when world economic growth is in the doldrums and has slowed to a crawl, no other competitor country is keen to enter into a sort of economic suicide pact. So, with a sickening sense of deja vu, two years later we are once again debating the same issues, and Labor and the Greens still don't get it.

Here are some questions which Labor still cannot address. Why would you do something that you know goes against the national interest and against the interests of the people you are supposed to represent? Why would you disadvantage a kid from Bankstown who is doing a diploma and wants to get a job in the mining industry? Why would you want to impose extra burdens and costs on a working family in Caboolture which is already struggling in difficult times? Why would you want to make it more difficult for a small business to carry on, employ people and contribute to its local community? Why would you want to punish your own people—why would you want to punish Australians—with a tax of such severity that no other country in the world has chosen to punish its people with a similarly severe tax? Why would you want to go it alone when none of the other major emitters and none of our major competitors are shackling their economies with similar schemes? Why would you want to impose a new tax in the name of fighting climate change even though that tax would have no impact at all on climate change?

We now know—the coalition knows, Labor knows and even the Greens know—that China is the largest emitter in the world and that India is the third largest. According to the 1990 benchmarks, China's emissions will have grown by 500 per cent and India's by 350 per cent by 2020. We now know that China is building two new coal fired power stations a week and that any reductions in emissions which Australia might achieve will be completely swallowed up in a matter of weeks—if not days—by the increases in China. We now know that, even according to the government's own documents, between 2010 and 2020 Australia's own carbon emissions will increase by eight per cent. That is what the government says—Australia's own emissions will increase by eight per cent. We now know that should current trends continue, and there are no signs at the moment that any competitor country is willing to change its course, global carbon dioxide emissions will increase by 43 per cent by 2035. We now know that this tax will make Australian businesses less competitive. We now know that this tax will push the cost of living up. We now know that this tax will not result in any real environmental gain and that regional Australia will be hardest hit.

I ask again: why are Labor and the Greens doing this? The answer is pretty simple. They are doing it because of moral vanity, the vain belief that the Left knows best and is the world's conscience; they are doing it because of guilt that Australian capitalism has made us one of the most prosperous and most successful nations on earth; and they are doing it because of self-loathing, or at least because of a deep scepticism about the value of our society. Moral vanity, guilt, self-loathing—the three great contributions to the temper of politics by the Left in the 20th century. Moral vanity in feeling self-righteous, guilt for one's own prosperity and good fortune, self-loathing and deep scepticism of one's own society—the leftist trifecta. For this lot, for the Left, it is all a giant psychodrama, sacrificing everyone else and everything else for the sake of that warm feeling that they are right and everyone else is not only wrong but actually dangerous, deluded and immoral.

This carbon tax legislation is the best example there is of the absolute disconnect between Labor's heartland in the battlers' suburbs and Labor's trendy inner-city elites. There is no better example. It represents the ultimate act of sacrificing the interests and wellbeing of working families. Remember working families? When was the last time we heard about them? This represents sacrificing working families for the sake of international interests and the moral vanity of a trendy elite. In the Labor Party today the battlers now tug their forelocks to the trendies, the lefties and the inner-city luvvies. That is what has happened to the modern Labor Party. The Labor Party is now wholly subservient to the Greens monster, as Senator Madigan has here today—

Senator Ludlam: I rise on a point of order, Mr Temporary Chairman. I do not know if there is a standing order that relates to shouting, but it is actually quite painful. I am wondering whether the senator could moderate his address.

The CHAIRMAN: Senator Mason, it does reverberate around the chamber. Could you bear that in mind as you give your speech.

Senator MASON: As Senator Madigan recognised earlier in this debate, Ben Chifley would never have sold out workers and working families in our country for the sake of satisfying the moral vanity of the inner-city trendies. Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard do not even bat an eyelid. The sad thing is that so many of Labor's senators and members in fact know this is a disgrace. They know it; the awful thing is that they have not got the courage to speak about it. The great tragedy of modern Labor is this: they have been cannibalised on the Left and they have sold out on the Right. The Prime Minister was certainly right when she said that this was a Labor government that had lost its way.

Remember the light on the hill? The light on the hill has flickered out and been replaced by a green wind turbine. Welcome to the new Dark Green Ages. Labor's continuing quest for relevance means that it is now far more comfortable fighting for polar bears and dolphins than it is fighting for working families. That is modern Labor. Labor and the Greens will sell our country's prosperity to satisfy their moral vanity. They will mortgage our national interest to make themselves feel better. They will gamble our nation's future to satisfy their guilt and their self-loathing. They want to be heroes. They want to save the world. They want to make the state bigger and the people smaller. They want to shackle business and empower government. They want to take the money from the productive and distribute it amongst the rent seekers in Australia and abroad. The Labor-Greens carbon tax will damage Australia and, as we all know, it will do absolutely nothing for the environment.

This is not about embracing the future. It is not inevitable, it is not moral, it is not righteous and it is not enlightened. It is self-righteous. In the end the carbon tax is a tax conceived in guilt and given birth to upon a lie. It is the bastard child of the Australian Left. The idea that the working people of this country should foot the bill so that Labor and the Greens can feel good about themselves is the ultimate betrayal of the people this lot say they represent. They will sell out working families so they feel better, so they feel righteous and so moral vanity can come to the fore. That is what modern Labor stands for. It is the final act of a party that does not deserve to govern, does not deserve respect and does not deserve the support of ordinary working families and ordinary Australians. In the end we back the boy from Bankstown and this lot back the luvvy from Balmain. They do not deserve to govern this country.