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Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Page: 11301

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP (6:31 PM) —I rise to speak against the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009 [No. 2] and accompanying bills in this cognate debate. The Australian people are now only just starting to focus on what the Labor federal government has in store for them with its CPRS Bill, the bill that imposes a new broadbased consumption tax to be known as the emissions trading scheme, or ETS, tax. The ETS tax, unlike the GST, is a tax on everything, including food. It is a tax on our basic means of heating, lighting and cooking, and that is electricity. Food prices will rise, it is said, by up to seven per cent. There is to be a massive tax on the commodity that provides 75 per cent of our electricity—that is, coal—which means that the cost of electricity will reportedly double. The tax will also fall on coal exports—our largest single export earner—all forms of transport, building materials, wheelchairs and even Vegemite. This package of bills envisages that agriculture will become subject to the scheme as well, resulting in a tax on all sheep and cattle, which will simply force dairy farmers and other farmers off the land and into possible bankruptcy. Senator Barnaby Joyce has had estimates done which show the cost of a family roast could be $150.

Climate change, which has obviously been going on for millions of years, has a new element: human beings are now said to be, by some, the cause of the changes in climate. The same people who advocate this can be called many, but there are also vast numbers growing every day who just say it is part of the continuum. Professor Roger Short, who holds an honorary position at the University of Melbourne as professorial fellow in medicine, in the zoology organisation at its Parkville campus, has made the most astonishing statements showing how extreme the antihuman brigade is. In an interview on ABC radio 702 last Sunday, he said:

We already have available the pill, which will stop global warming. Isn’t that fantastic? The single most cost-effective way of controlling global warming is to make the contraceptive pill available to as many million women, particularly in the developing world, who are denied access to it. We could, for $7 outlay per person, reduce the CO2 emissions by one metric tonne. Controlling global population will be No. 1 on the list, you can take it from me, in December when the world climate change conference opens in Copenhagen.

But he is consistent. In a media release in 2002 he is quoted as commenting on the statement by the founder of the World Wildlife Fund, who said:

At the end of the day, we could have saved more wildlife if we had spent all WWF’s money on buying condoms for humans.

His comment was:

He was right, and human overpopulation is ultimately the greatest threat to wildlife.

A genuine human-hater. Professor Short is attending the Prime Minister’s science awards dinner here in Canberra in this Parliament House tonight.

The Labor federal government’s response to climate change is a fudge. It pretends to lower emissions. It does not. It merely imposes this new tax, the ETS tax. This is how it works. There is no cap on the actual emissions Australia can make now or in the future. There is only an allocation made for Australia under the Kyoto protocol, and when Australia exceeds that allocation Australians have to pay billions of dollars to other countries for them to reduce their CO2 emissions by the amount we exceed ours. This is done by buying permits from Third World countries, hoping they will plant trees or otherwise abate, or by buying from other countries who have spare capacity—that is, they have not yet reached their own targets.

Treasury modelling shows that Australians’ actual emissions will remain way above the 2000 levels, even though Australia might agree to cutting the Kyoto allocated targets by five per cent by 2020 and 60 per cent by 2050. By 2020, emissions will be up by 11 per cent—that is, over the allocated target. By 2050 they will be nearly double the allocated targets. But where the cap does become relevant is domestically, where these bills impose a cap on how much CO2 can be emitted by industries and enterprises all over Australia. Once this cap is reached, the enterprise can go on emitting but has to pay a tax by way of purchasing permits from a body newly created by this legislation, called the Australian Climate Change Regulatory Authority—get used to it; it is going to be a big name. This body issues the permits and collects the billions of dollars paid by Australian businesses. Note the tax is not paid into consolidated revenue, as is normal, but to the authority, which in turn will churn some of the tax receipts into payments for pensioners and others who cannot afford to pay the increases in costs of living because of the tax.

The authority will also issue free permits to those industries lucky enough to be allowed to escape up to 95 per cent of the tax. Many of those industries will be ones which have been lured to Australia because of cheap energy sources and, once the price goes up, will simply leave the country and go to one where there is no such tax. But the government can increase the tax any time it likes by lowering the cap. It becomes a ready cash cow for government, without any restriction. It is estimated that there will be unallocated revenues worth $50 billion from 2015 to 2025. Let’s compare that to the GST. The GST, a broad based consumption tax which excludes food and many other things, cannot be raised except by agreement of all states. But the ETS tax can be raised at the will of the federal Labor government, which has already plunged this nation into hundreds of billions of dollars of debt.

Small business and farmers will be the big losers—but so will all of us, being forced to pay more and have a drop in our standard of living. Whether it is Whitlam with the illegal overseas loans, or Keating with 17½ per cent interest rates, Labor always manages to wreck our economy—and then we the coalition have to come in and clean it up, just as we did in 1996.

The Minerals Council of Australia—and, I note, it is on the government’s own admission—points out that China’s thirst for our minerals and energy resources has allowed our economy to receive the fillip that it has indeed received. That Minerals Council is opposed to the scheme. It points out that it is out of step with the rest of the world and will impose the world’s highest carbon costs. The Minerals Council also points out that the modelling by Concept Economics showed 24,000 jobs would be lost from the minerals sector by 2020. All this at a time when high levels of immigration are saying we are headed for a population of 35 million by 2050. This is not a time to be cutting jobs; this is a time to be creating jobs.

This tax is hugely complicated, and all recent polls show that Australians are starting to realise the impact it will have on them and their families. The respected Lowy Institute poll states:

Climate change continues to drop as a priority for Australians. In 2007, Australians ranked … climate change as the equal most important foreign policy goal… This year it ranked 7th out of ten possible goals—down ten points since last year and 19 points since 2007.

Global warming as a threat to Australia was down 14 points since last year. And 53 per cent of people, in a Newspoll a month ago, said nothing should be done before the Copenhagen meeting, when the rest of the world meets to debate this issue.

The Canberra Times reported this week that four in 10 voters said they did not have a clue when asked their view on the Labor government’s emissions trading scheme. Essential Research, who conducted an online poll, showed 38 per cent of people polled had no idea whether the ETS was good or bad. Of 25- to 34-year-olds, 49 per cent did not know if the ETS goes too far in favouring business, the environment movement or has the balance right. Michael Stutchbury wrote in the Australian in August 2009:

Australia’s raucous democracy can impose political penalties on governments held responsible for even small reductions to household incomes, particularly for middle-class families. So Rudd’s main pitch at the 2007 election was to ease the squeeze on household budgets from higher interest rates, petrol prices and grocery prices.

Yet support for climate change action among battlers is likely to quickly dissipate once it touches the hip pocket nerve. That’s partly why governments prefer to disguise the carbon “tax” in the form of a cap-and-trade system.

A tax is what it is. There is plenty of evidence that this Labor lot has tried to hoodwink the Australian people into accepting the ETS as a benign instrument to combat climate change. It is not. It is a tax. There is now more evidence that people are awakening and starting to realise this complex tax is not in their interests.

The case is becoming plainer and plainer that this tax is one which is designed to reap revenue for the government which it thinks it can use to redistribute income and to help to start paying off the massive debt that it has racked up. It is a hoax on the people. It will not change the emissions in this country one iota. It is just a tax. Accordingly, I oppose this package of bills.