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Wednesday, 24 September 2014
Page: 10431


Mr CONROY (Charlton) (15:59): What a bizarre effort. You know they are in trouble when they get the National Party to talk about economics. This is an economic issue and they have the cockies talking about economics, which is indeed troubling. Let's apply some facts to this debate, because the other sad and troubling part of the previous member's contribution is that he did not spend a single second talking about what they would do to help combat climate change. I do not know whether it is because they do not know what to do or he is ashamed of his own policy, or whether, like many on that side, he does not actually accept the science of climate change. He thinks he knows more than 97 per cent of climate change scientists around the world. What a pathetic effort.

Let's look at the facts. What happened after we introduced the fixed price emissions trading scheme? We heard lots of doom and gloom on that side about what happened. What did happen? In the first year alone, 160,000 jobs were created. The stock market went up 33 per cent. National emissions were 40 million tonnes lower than they would have been otherwise. The Department of the Environment, under the current government, says that, due to the emissions trading scheme, emissions in this economy are 40 million tonnes lower than they would otherwise be. We saw renewable energy production of 37 per cent and, most impressive of all, we saw emissions from the national electricity market, our single biggest polluting sector of the economy, fall by 17.2 million tonnes, a 10 per cent fall. This was all concrete action in the first two years of the scheme alone, and it would have been more efficient if we were successful in shifting it towards a flexible price emissions trading scheme, which was our plan.

This was all based on us acting in concert with the rest of the world. Those on the other side like to spread another myth, another untruth, that we are somehow leading the world in this area. Nothing could be further from the truth. By 2016, three billion people around the world will live in countries or regions where there is an emissions trading scheme. Two hundred million Chinese live right now under emissions trading schemes. By 2016, China plans to have a national emissions trading scheme. What we saw in the last three years was the most mendacious and disgraceful scare campaign ever pursued by a desperate, hypocritical opposition leader in the current Prime Minister. We had the $100 leg of lamb. We were told that Whyalla would be wiped out. We had the wrecking ball, the cobra strike and the python squeeze. We had the weather vane. We had, 'Climate change is crap.' We had, 'Carbon dioxide is weightless.' He discovered a gas that had no physical properties—it was remarkable. And he made ridiculous claims that global warming had stopped. This effort would not have been good enough for a humble opposition backbencher, let alone the alternative Prime Minister.

Yet again, we see those on the other side debasing themselves with empty rhetoric instead of talking about the real issues. I did a count. In the 20 minutes of their contributions to this debate so far, we have heard 30 seconds on Direct Action. The member for Wentworth is entering the chamber. He has spent more than 30 seconds on Direct Action in his political career—he said it was a fig leaf and various other things. He was a remarkable truth teller in that period. We have heard 30 seconds on Direct Action from those opposite during this debate, and the truth is that it is the most fundamental rejection of markets we have ever seen, led by a Prime Minister who is not a Liberal; he is not even a conservative; he is a DLP reactionary, an acolyte of BA Santamaria who rejects the notion of markets—and Direct Action reflects that philosophy. It is the worst aspect of a command-and-control economy. It would make Comrade Lenin proud to see Comrade Abbott introducing a command-and-control method to try and reduce emissions.

The sad thing is that they cannot even name a single economist they are not paying to support their policy. Not a single independent economist says that Direct Action is a reputable policy. The Grattan Institute has said it will cost $100 billion to reach the five per cent target. Treasury's own costings of their policy said it will cost $48 billion to hit their target. Not one single economist will support it.

On this side of parliament, we have introduced a policy. Our policy for 2016, a flexible price emissions trading scheme, is a recommendation of pre-eminent economists. The entire Treasury is in favour of an emissions trading scheme. Professor Paul Krugman, Ross Garnaut and Lord Nicholas Stern—the most pre-eminent economists in the world—when they look at the problem of climate change, say, 'Let the market solve it. Use a flexible price emissions trading scheme to target it.' That is Labor's policy. Those on the other side are divided between those who do not want to do anything because they do not accept climate change is real and the other half, who just see a political opportunity. They are failing not only future generations but this generation as well. I am confident they will stand condemned by history for their horrible, horrible work. (Time expired)