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Monday, 28 February 2011
Page: 1771

Mr CRAIG KELLY (6:42 PM) —I rise to speak on the motion before the Committee. As this is a two-part motion, I will address each separately. Firstly, I think it is good that we are debating this motion. Until this time, I have been concerned that the sole focus of the Labor government has been the opportunity to introduce a whopping new tax. I agree with the first part of the motion, which states:

… climate change is a serious economic and environmental challenge …

One only has to look at our history to appreciate that climate change has been a serious economic and environmental challenge in the past. Even if we went back to living in mud huts, it would still be a serious environmental and economic challenge in the future.

In 986, a fleet of 24 ships started a Viking settlement in Greenland. That settlement grew over the years to more than 5,000 people before Greenland’s climate began to change, with the summers growing shorter and progressively cooler, until the climate change made conditions on the island unliveable, forcing the settlement to be abandoned. In the more recent past, for example, on the Georges River in my electorate of Hughes, the largest flooding occurred back in 1873 and two other major floods followed shortly after before the turn of the century. However, the climate has changed and floods of this size have not occurred for more than 100 years. However, this does not mean that the climate will not change again and we will not see floods of this magnitude repeated. So we must be ever vigilant.

The point is that the climate has always been changing and always will, and this change will present serious economic and environmental challenges in the future. This brings me to the second part of the motion, which states:

That this House:

…            …            …

(2)   acknowledges a carbon price is the cheapest and fairest way to cut pollution and drive investment …

But the motion fails to define what pollution is. The use of the words ‘carbon pollution’ creates a subconscious image of grit and black soot, but this is not what a carbon tax is all about. A carbon tax is about taxing carbon dioxide—the clear, odourless gas that makes plants grow, a gas which makes up 0.0004 per cent of our atmosphere by volume. Of that CO2 in the atmosphere, only 2.75 per cent is of man-made origin; of the rest, over 97 per cent comes from natural sources.

I am concerned about pollution. I am concerned about the pollution in Sydney Harbour. The dioxins we have in our harbour have poisoned the fish to such an extent that it is not recommended to eat anything caught west of the bridge. But this tax on pollution will do nothing to fix this problem. I am also deeply concerned about pollution from diesel exhaust emissions that people in south-western Sydney will be inhaling in ever greater volumes if Labor gets its way and dumps two intermodals in the Moorebank and Wattle Grove areas. Studies in the USA have shown that such diesel exhaust pollution causes a variety of serious illnesses. But a tax on carbon dioxide will not do anything to fix those problems. In fact, it is likely to make them worse.

As far as a carbon tax being the fairest solution is concerned, let us consider how fair such a tax would be on the electorate of the honourable member who moved this motion, the member for Throsby. If what the member for Throsby states is true, surely he will have received overwhelming support in his own electorate, located in the Illawarra region of New South Wales. The community newspaper servicing this region, the Illawarra Mercury, has canvassed the population, undertaking two surveys in the last week. To the first question—‘Do you support the federal government’s carbon-pricing plan?’—a meagre 22.7 per cent replied yes while 77.3 per cent replied no. To the second question—‘Do you accept the need to put a price on carbon to tackle climate change?’—in the member for Throsby’s electorate the vote was only 26 per cent yes and 73 per cent no. No wonder the Prime Minister and the Treasurer told lies about the carbon tax before the election: to deceive the population about this carbon tax. It is simply a dog with fleas.

Surely the honourable member is not that out of touch. Perhaps the people of the Illawarra recognise what their federal member does not, and that is that the Greens-Labor plan is a job killer. The front page of the Illawarra Mercury of both the Friday and the weekend edition said as much. As the member for Throsby should know, BlueScope Steel has refused to rule out moving its Illawarra operations to China in a response to the introduction of this government’s new carbon tax. On Friday, the CEO of BlueScope Steel, Paul O’Malley, said:

It is not in Australia’s interests—economic or environmental—to force domestic industries to shut down or curtail production, only to see that production replaced by higher-emissions overseas production.

Government member interjecting—

Mr CRAIG KELLY —You are going to drive out this investment. The member for Throsby should be aware of this article because, when asked by the newspaper if pricing emissions was a threat to local jobs, the member did not seem concerned, refusing to answer the question.

Let us look at some of the online comments following the article in the Illawarra Mercury.

Isn’t the local Labor MP, Stephen Jones, meant to represent his community? What a gutless and deflective answer in th article … Mr Jones, just remember, we voted you in and we can vote you out …

And another:

well done labor, way to screw us all over again. Another nail in your coffin, problem is we have to wait too long to bury you. Labor are a disgrace, and while our esteemed PM says that she is going to create jobs using this TAX, i wonder how many of the illawarra workers feel safe now. Time to stand up people and be heard.

The member for Throsby knows well that BlueScope Steel employs 4,900 people directly in his electorate. His failure to stand up for his electorate has now put those jobs at risk. This is in a region suffering serious, overinflated unemployment, with youth unemployment standing at a whopping 39 per cent. You can babble on about certainty all you like, but you need to think about the great uncertainty that you have caused those 4,900 people directly employed in your electorate.

This motion is an embarrassment to the member for Throsby—to talk about fairness when your electorate will perhaps be affected more than any other. You have abandoned your constituents. How are you going look them in the eye when you have destroyed their jobs? This is going to give you the nickname Stephen ‘Job Killer’ Jones. This motion should be treated with the contempt that it deserves.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. DGH Adams)—I remind the member for Hughes, being a new member, that members are expected to address the motions and the bills before the parliament.