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Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Page: 2459

Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (15:20): After listening to Senator Joyce and Senator Macdonald you have to wonder how you could ever get the coalition to develop a proper policy on climate change. It is clear that the National Party and the North Queenslanders are actually promoting climate change denial within the coalition and ensuring that the coalition do not do anything appropriate about climate change.

Senator Macdonald could not even last two minutes talking about climate change before he wandered all over the place. Senator Joyce is the clown prince of the Senate in terms of one-liners but does not deal with any of the scientific funds or any of the economic issues that are important for this country.

I want to briefly go to a couple of areas. I want to briefly go to a couple of areas. I am not usually one who quotes the pontiff or the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Rome, but the Pontifical Academy of Sciences said this:

We call on all people and nations to recognise the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases …

This is not the Labor Party; it is not some socialist group that are saying you have to deal with climate change; it is not the Greens. This is a commission of scientists reporting to the Pope who say we must treat this seriously. So that is one area.

And then there are our own scientific advisers the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology. They have only just put out a booklet called State of the climate 2012. And what do they say in that? They say that temperatures are rising. They say that rainfall is becoming intermittent in some areas and very, very strong in other areas. They say the global average mean sea level is rising. They say that the ocean heat content is rising. They say that carbon dioxide is rising. And this has got serious economic and environmental implications for Australia.

You see, the coalition used to treat this seriously; they actually used to say we have to deal with this. And they set up a task group headed by Dr Peter Shergold, a key adviser to John Howard. What that group's report said was this:

Australia has a vital interest in the form of any emerging global response. Given our exposure to the impacts of climate change we want an approach that is effective.

They then went on to say:

However, waiting until a truly global response emerges before imposing an emissions cap will place costs on Australia by increasing business uncertainty and delaying or losing investment. Already there is evidence that investment in key emissions-intensive industries and energy infrastructure is being deferred.

They come in here and they argue that, under Labor, there is a problem with energy infrastructure. But in 2007, the year the public threw them out of office, they were getting reports saying energy infrastructure is a problem, that investment in energy infrastructure has not taken place. And what is the big cost in electricity increases? It is not a carbon price; it is energy infrastructure. Dr Peter Shergold recognised that. John Howard was told about this in 2007 but did nothing about it.

George Megalogenis has just written a book about politics in this country and he says John Howard introduced what he calls a 'chameleon approach' to climate change: one minute you are for it, the next minute you are against it. And Tony Abbott is the chief coalition chameleon on climate change. He is for it one minute and against it the next. He is an absolute disgrace. The coalition is a disgrace. Think of the future of this country. Do something about climate change. Stop denying. (Time expired)