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Thursday, 13 November 2008
Page: 59

Senator IAN MACDONALD (3:07 PM) —Congratulations to the so-called workers party for its ill-conceived, ill-considered, rushed and politically motivated Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. I move that we take note—

Senator Carol Brown —Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I was just going to ask Senator Macdonald to indicate which answer he was going to take note of. But he is now proceeding to do that.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —I am in the middle of prefacing my motion to take note of answers. I move:

That the Senate take note of answers given by the Minister for Climate Change and Water (Senator Wong) to questions without notice asked by Opposition senators today.

I was congratulating the so-called workers party for its ill-conceived, ill-considered, rushed and politically motivated Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme—a scheme that is more about photo opportunities than it is about addressing climate change. It is an emissions trading scheme that is more about winning the fawning flattery of the international conference set and the commentariat than it is about workers’ jobs in Australia. The scheme that Senator Wong has charge of is already costing jobs in Australia. There was news overnight of another 1,400 Tasmanian jobs at risk by this ill-conceived, ill-considered emissions trading scheme.

While I am particularly concerned about Tasmanian jobs, I am also very, very concerned about jobs in my own home town of Townsville where Sun Metals—the Korean zinc refining industry that was set up about 10 years ago, with a lot of help from the then Howard government—is looking to move its operations offshore. It employs 450 people in the North Queensland region and is one of the model international companies in the area. The advent of Sun Metals has given a very substantial bolstering to the local economy in North Queensland and has earned hundreds of millions of export dollars for Australia with Australia’s zinc concentrate. But 450 jobs could be at risk. As the Sun Metals chief executive, Mr Lee, said, ‘It depends upon the price of carbon.’ He is very concerned about the impact of power costs on his refinery and has indicated that it would be cheaper for him to move offshore.

This is what the Labor Party’s emissions trading scheme is all about: unemployment will go up and emissions will go up. The reason for this is very simple: the government’s plan will send Australian jobs overseas. This has also been indicated by the CEO of Nystar. Jobs with Sun Metals in Townsville will also be sent overseas. They are just two of many companies that have approached the opposition, indicating their very great concern about this ill-conceived, ill-considered scheme.

It will not only be the zinc industry that moves overseas. Other manufacturing and processing companies—particularly the aluminium, steel, cement and paper products industries—will also simply move overseas. There will be absolutely no change to changing the climate of the world, because when these industries move overseas they will move to places that have fewer restrictions than we have in Australia. Emissions will go up and all that will be achieved will be that workers—which the current government is supposed to represent—will lose their jobs. The government has no real concern about them. It is prepared to use the workers when it wants to get itself elected. But, when it comes to the most important thing for workers—and that is having a job—this government turns its back. The emissions trading scheme will cost jobs in Australia for absolutely no benefit for the changing climate of the world.