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Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Page: 11494

Mr RUDDOCK (Berowra) (21:07): I rise to speak to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition to the Clean Energy Bill 2011. That amendment deals with the commencement provisions and the amendment makes it clear that:

(1) The provisions of this Act commence on a date to be fixed by Proclamation.

(2) A Proclamation for the purposes of subsection (1) must not be made until after elections have been held for the 44th Parliament and the Parliament has met.

The reason for that is quite clear: it is to delay the commencement of the legislation. I would think that members opposite if they were desirous of thinking about their own future might well be disposed to supporting the amendment.

As I sit quietly and think about events that are occurring in the nation at the moment they are quite fascinating. In the time that I have been here I have not seen a government that ostensibly argues that it ought to be well received by the Australian community because it saved us from a global financial crisis and that it has maintained unemployment levels at relatively low numbers and the Australian community ought to be grateful that it has delivered that outcome. How is it that it has lost that support that it might have otherwise expected that those policy prescriptions about which it boasts might have delivered?

The fact of the matter is that they know that they are on the nose and the reason they are on the nose is not because of the government's own policies it is because they are part of a coalition with the Greens. The policy prescription has been delivered because they did that deal with the Greens and it is very necessary for the government to produce legislation that they know in their heart of hearts the Australian people do not support. I suspect that if they were desirous of thinking about their own future—and I gather that some of them are contemplating whether they ought to have a slight shift in direction—then if they do shift in a slightly different direction their thinking is how might they be able to survive. I think the reasoning that I see coming through over and over again is that if they did have a change in leadership, they might well be able to strike out in a new direction to put this matter off the agenda and to be able to focus on what they believe are the positive arguments in support of their own situation.

I hope that they do not see that this is a particularly unique opportunity for them to be able to get the government off the hook by voting for the Leader of the Opposition's amendment. This is an amendment which is a particularly useful opportunity for some members of the government who think they might be able to hang on in their marginal seats because they would get it off the political agenda. This is a serious matter.

My view very clearly is that the way in which the government is proceeding with this matter in advance of the rest of the world leaves us seriously exposed. I have recently travelled to the United States and I have had the opportunity of talking to a number of people who are very interested in public life in the United States of America. This is not a matter that is on their agenda. This matter has largely been driven off the public agenda in the United States because of the other serious issues that confront their economy. The government argues that we know that they are not going to deal with it nationally but hopefully some of the states are. It is very interesting. One of the signposts was the Chicago Climate Exchange. Even that has closed. There is little prospect that the United States is going to buy into the sort of agenda that we are buying into here, and with so few other countries buying into this, it will leave us dangerously exposed. Any claims that the government has delivered us a reasonable standard of living will be quickly lost in a situation where we become even less competitive in a very competitive world. (Time expired)