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Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Page: 4036


Senator IAN MACDONALD (4:25 PM) —The two previous speakers, Senator McEwen from the Labor Party and Senator Milne from the Greens political party, started off their contributions talking about hypocrisy, and I might just do the same. Hypocrisy epitomises both the Rudd Labor government and the Greens political party. Let me demonstrate.

We have two ministers related to the environment and climate change in the Rudd government. Both have been complete and abject failures, and their reign as ministers has been marred by backflip after backflip. You might remember that Senator Wong used to come in here and lecture us on how important it was to get this CPRS up and running with the greatest urgency. Every day that went by, she told us, would destroy the world. So what happens with Senator Wong? When she finds that she cannot bring her backbench with her, that she has got it all wrong, she is taken over by Mr Combet—then a mere parliamentary secretary, who is given the job of getting it back on track—and delays the commencement for more than 12 months. So that is hypocrisy example No. 1.

Mr Garrett is a nice enough sort of fellow, not a bad musician, but completely out of his depth when it comes to looking after the environment. Indeed, as I said during question time, Mr Garrett is one of those who, whenever there is a photo opportunity with Indigenous people around, is there with them, blowing the didgeridoo and pledging his undying support. When they want some money for their Laura dance festival up in Cape York Peninsula, what happens? He refuses to give them money for that dance festival—money which has been given by previous governments, coalition governments, for many, many years.

Talking about hypocrisy, let us get on to the Greens, the ultraleft of the political spectrum in this parliament. They just hate Mr Howard and the Liberal Party so much that they cannot even acknowledge that the programs that Senator Milne was talking about—and this particular program today which is the subject of this debate—were programs of the Howard Liberal government. The solar program, the $8,000 figure, was an initiative of the Howard Liberal government. But can you get the Greens to acknowledge that? Their hatred for Mr Howard and the Liberal Party is so great that they cannot even acknowledge the great steps forward that were taken by the Liberal Party and the National Party when in government. Those two programs I have mentioned are just two of any number of very good programs introduced by the Liberal and National parties to help save the environment. Indeed, we are very proud that it was the Liberal and National parties that established the first ever greenhouse office anywhere in the world that actually started work on abating greenhouse gases.

The Labor Party’s attitude to the subject of this matter of public importance debate, the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program, was again clearly explained by the first speaker for the Labor Party. She said that the debate was a complete waste of time. How many times did Senator McEwen say, ‘This is a complete waste of time’? Do you know why, Madam Acting Deputy President? Because it has to do with rural and remote Australia. Regrettably, the Labor Party has absolutely no interest and very little representation from rural and remote Australia. The Liberal and National parties put this program into operation and I, like Senator McEwen in her contribution, can read about the program on the government website. It is still there. It lauds the success of this program introduced by the Howard government in 2001. It was a good program. It did a lot to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time it did something to help those less fortunate than most of the Labor senators in this chamber with the provision of power on their remote properties. They had a subsidised program from this government that enabled them to create power without the cost, both in money and greenhouse gas emissions, of diesel motors.

Mr Garrett has tonight committed those people again without any warning to the costs and the environmental degradation of diesel motors. He has done it, as he did with the solar rebate, without any warning. What has this done for the small businesses dealing in the area of alternative power which were built up over the Howard government years? Overnight they have been smashed by Mr Garrett and the Rudd government. Indeed, I have here a media release by Solar Shop Australia, and I do not think I can put it any better than Mr Liam Hunt has in talking about what happened last night. He said:

This is the third setback for the industry in as many weeks ...

We were promised a smooth transition from the $8k rebate to the new Solar Credits scheme and instead the old rebate was pulled early with only hours of notice.

The Government then fiddled with the Renewable Energy Target policy, making what was a policy with bipartisan support an unwinnable piece of legislation, and now they have retrospectively pulled the RRGP which was a very popular and important program ...

He went on to say quite rightly that the Rudd government:

... was elected into office partly on the back of the green vote, he started well by ratifying Kyoto, but since then he has seemed to turn the lights out on the domestic solar power industry. It has thrown the whole industry into turmoil ...

He quite rightly asked at the end what is happening to all those green collar jobs which have been promised and which are now in limbo. This government is not interested in the environment. This government is not interested in greenhouse gas reductions. This government is not really interested in saving the climate of the world. What it is interested in is political spin. Anything this government can do to win a vote it will do. It signed Kyoto—not that that had any impact on anything—but when it comes to the real programs that were actually doing things, like the solar rebate subsidy and the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program, what does it do? It axes them. By axing them not only does the government lessen our impact on reducing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also it once again attacks country people, in whom it has no interest. The action of Mr Garrett in both these instances is a disgrace. (Time expired)