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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8338


Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (15:26): I greatly enjoyed some of the contributions this afternoon but less so some of the others. The coalition senators made thoughtful, considered contributions, where they actually examined and considered the issues related to the questions that were asked during question time of Minister Wong, the Minister representing the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. However, as usual, the government senators reverted to their typical approach of obfuscation and diversion from the facts and the real issues, which are the failings of the government's plan to introduce a carbon tax and the fact that it simply will not work in delivering the environmental outcomes that they say it will.

Senator Farrell also noted that there were 90 countries taking action, although he seemed a bit confused at the time—it might have been 90 per cent of emissions or 90 countries. The fact is that none of those 90 countries are taking any action in terms of putting a price on carbon that goes anywhere near being as broad or as deep as what we are doing in this country. No nationwide carbon tax or carbon-pricing schemes have been introduced in any of the 90 countries. I recall that Minister Wong used the term 'a shadow price' on carbon for what she was talking about. The reality is that the vast majority of those countries taking action on carbon are doing the very sorts of things the coalition is proposing to do in its direct action plan: taking action that puts what Senator Wong herself called a shadow price on carbon by using measures that are not a blatant and overt tax on carbon or an emissions trading scheme. So I think the government argument in pointing out these 90 countries is a little disingenuous because all it does is prove that alternatives like what the coalition is proposing in its direct action plan are actually being employed elsewhere and are actually acknowledged by the government as being a legitimate way of addressing the issue.

Senator Singh mentioned that Senator Wong had provided numerous responses to questions. I think she carefully used the word 'responses' because, quite clearly, Senator Wong does not actually provide answers to questions and 'responses' is a very clever way of saying that. Of course Senator Singh has a lot to hide when it comes to this issue because she is a classic example of someone who would not be in this place were it not for the carbon tax promise followed by the backflip later on which proved it to have been a mistruth. Speaking as a senator from Tasmania, as is Senator Singh, I can say there is no way that the Labor Party would have won that third Senate spot in Tasmania—

Senator Abetz: Senator Singh's spot?

Senator BUSHBY: Exactly—had the Prime Minister not gone to the people of Tasmania and said, hand on heart, two or three days before the election, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.' If she had not said that in the lead-up to the election, Tasmanians would have voted with their feet, the Labor Party would not have received the votes needed to get that third Senate spot and Senator Singh would still be the failed minister, the dumped Labor member for Denison, that she was in Tasmania following the last state election, in which she could not even hold onto her seat. We have also heard today, in response to questions, about Coogee Chemicals, which is a Victorian company that was looking to make a $1 billion investment in methanol production in Australia. That has now been cancelled for the specific reason that the carbon tax is going to make them uncompetitive and they cannot do it. This comes at a loss of $14 billion of predicted exports and 150 jobs, but that is not the worst of it. Obviously it is a terrible thing that 150 people are not going to have jobs that they otherwise would have had and there will be $14 billion worth of exports that will not happen. But the fact is that Coogee Chemicals is the most efficient manufacturer of methanol in the world in terms of the emissions that it produces per output of production. So every single unit of methanol that is not produced by Coogee Chemicals and is produced by someone else—and remember that this is the only methanol producer in Australia, so all other methanol will be produced outside Australia—will be at higher emissions per unit of output than it would have been if it had been produced in Australia. So not only are we exporting the jobs of manufacturing that methanol, not only are we losing the export opportunities in respect of that methanol, but by putting in place this tax we are contributing towards a net increase in carbon dioxide and equivalent emissions as a direct result of a carbon tax that is going to drive this investment offshore.

The minister says that Coogee Chemicals will be fully compensated and so they are not right in making the decision not to proceed. On what basis? We heard from the answers that the assumptions that the Treasury modelling is based on have not been released. Therefore, the cost of— (Time expired)

Question agreed to.