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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8348


Senator ADAMS (Western AustraliaDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (16:00): I rise to speak on this matter of public importance: the Gillard government’s broken pre-election promise not to introduce a carbon tax and their wholesale adoption of the policy agenda of their alliance partners, the Australian Greens. The Greens held their conference in Perth on the weekend. I was quite surprised to see the headlines in the West Australian and the Australian—'Political payback as Greens go own way' and 'Don't take us for granted, Greens leader tells Labor'. I just wonder if we have a divorce on our hands. This all seems rather strange. What has happened to the alliance?

I was quite surprised, Senator Brown, to see that your conference did not allow the media to be there and actually had them locked out. Senator Brown has always called for open discussion and for the media to be involved in most areas, but in Perth we saw a very brief shot of the Greens sitting there and that was that. This really does surprise me. An article written by Amanda O'Brien for the Australian quotes Senator Brown:

He paid tribute to Julia Gillard for advancing the carbon tax legislation, which is expected to pass the Senate tomorrow, but he reminded the Prime Minister of the role the Greens played.

"Hats off to Julia Gillard and her government … but it's there because of the Greens," he said.

I think that says it all. What is happening is a bit confusing. The Greens are really mad because the Labor Party are obviously not going to preference them. So now the Greens are going to have, for the House of Representatives, open preferences for their members because it seems that their alliance partners have really done the dirty on them. Senator Brown talks about this open ticket in a quote from an article in the West Australian written by Jane Hammond with the heading 'Political payback as Greens go own way':

"The big parties are going to have to negotiate with people at the local level," Senator Brown said. "Things are going to get a lot more complicated.

In reply to this, political analyst David Black from Western Australia said:

… the implications of the decision would vary from seat to seat and on the order of candidates on the ballot paper but in general Greens preferences tended to flow to Labor.

He said the decision could be seen as an attempt by the Greens to distance themselves publicly from Labor.

Once again we have lots of balls up in the air as to where it is all going to go. With an election two years away anything could happen.

I was also very interested to hear Senator Siewert on the radio championing aged care as the Greens' main policy for the next election. I do wonder what is going to happen to the Greens' death duty policy from the last election, which surprisingly enough was removed from their website the week before the election. The Greens say they are going to help those people who are reaching the twilight years of their lives and looking to pass on their properties and houses to family members, but the impost of the death duties would be pushed onto those families. Things are very mixed up in that respect.

The Prime Minister has lost control of our borders, her own party and her own cabinet. Unfortunately it seems to be Senator Brown who is calling the shots and leading the country. Last night we had the 50th boat arrival of 2011, with 60 people on board. I think that the policy for immigration is very sadly lacking. We have Senator Hanson-Young saying that she feels every refugee who arrives on a boat should be given the privilege of coming to Australia and being let out into the community, that it is their right and that they have had a terrible time, are all very hard done by and should not be locked up until they have had their credentials certified. Under that circumstance we would not know who is coming into Australia. That is the Greens—things change all the time.

Prime Minister Gillard has been held to electoral ransom by the Greens. What a disaster, not for her or her government but for the thousands of Australian families that are worse off. Since when did slapping a tax on something make it greener, offer incentĀ­ives for investment or deliver certainty for business? We started off with a carbon tax aimed at the 1,000 biggest polluters. Then it was 500. Then, according to the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, it was 400. Now we are back up to 500. Another article that was in the West Australian says real estate agents are attacking the Greens' slug on homeowners. The Real Estate Institute of WA president, Alan Bourke, said the move was 'a token green initiative that would achieve little greenhouse gas reduction but would saddle the housing sector with significant extra costs'. That means that, if you are selling a house or a unit, you have to get an assessor in to look at the green potential of your home. That would add another $1,000 of cost for those who are selling or renting a home to get an energy assessor to come in and rate it.

The next thing is that the Greens are getting $30 billion for their renewable energy project, mainly wind. I would draw to the attention of the Greens that the local residents' appeal against AGL's Hallett 2 wind turbines, which are non-compliant with the EPA noise guidelines, was upheld in the South Australian Supreme Court. South Australia is being used as the basis for guidelines and other states are following its example, but 16 of the 34 turbines were turned off overnight by AGL. So renewable energy is not what it looks like. (Time expired)