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Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Page: 11232

Mr RANDALL (1:45 PM) —In speaking on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009 [No. 2], I would like to point out that any carbon pollution reduction scheme must be the best it can possibly be without damaging the Australian economy, destroying industry and jobs. If this really is the most important piece of legislation in Australian peacetime, why not take the time to get it right? The Rudd scheme has been flawed, haphazard and rushed from the very beginning. Driven by political ambitions, the Prime Minister’s overzealousness to make his mark in Copenhagen has him forging ahead—alone, mind you—at the cost of Australian jobs, costs to working families—and you do not hear Labor talking much about working families these days—and drastic impacts on exports. Just to top it off, under his model there is no real abatement of emissions and there are no real incentives for industry to clean up its act.

If the government is serious about addressing climate change, it will take heed of the amendments that have been put forward by the coalition. The bottom line is that the coalition’s amendments make the scheme better and cheaper, saving thousands of jobs. We are committed to negotiating in good faith and expect the same from the government. If it does not, Labor must explain why it would reject common-sense amendments which will save Australian jobs, protect Australian small businesses from sharp power price rises and yet have the same environmental benefit by achieving the same reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We want to keep power bills affordable for Australian families: a $50 increase is far better than a $280 increase in their power bills.

There is no reason why we cannot wait until after Copenhagen, but I suspect the Prime Minister has already picked out his best suit and tie for that event. Our amendments keep emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industries on a level playing field with our competitors in other advanced economies; see that agriculture is excluded from the scheme and that farmers have access to agricultural credits; see that the impact of higher electricity prices is moderated; and see that the coal industry is required to reduce fugitive emissions as technically feasible but not be unfairly financially penalised. Ours is the only country in the world which is talking about taxing fugitive emissions. Australia still gets around 80 per cent of its energy from coal and we have the most to lose from a poorly constructed scheme, with 32 per cent of Australia’s emissions generated in the production of exports. The coalition encourages ordinary Australians taking matters into their own hands and being rewarded for making a contribution to reducing national emissions. Good things start at home and the coalition supports the creation of voluntary incentives that lead to a lower national level of emissions.

This is the Prime Minister’s decision. This rushed legislation is his initiative. We are giving the government the choice to take a sensible, united Australian approach to Copenhagen in a number of weeks. It is Labor’s ego and Mr Rudd’s big-noting agenda that has us rushing the scheme through this week. But the reality is it is unlikely any deal will be reached at the summit—so no global agreement with binding targets. Some of Australia’s major competitors may not have a comparable scheme for many years. Obviously, that would be putting Australia at a disadvantage. No-one but Mr Rudd expects Australia to have an agreement in place before Copenhagen. For example, the head of the United Nations climate agency, Mr Yvo de Boer, has stated that there is no expectation or requirement that Australia have legislation in place by the Copenhagen talks in December. It will be on Labor’s watch if this scheme costs Australian jobs, so this will be sheeted home to them. Unlike the Prime Minister, we are interested not in playing games or saving face but only in protecting jobs and achieving something that can make a real difference without costing hardworking Australians the earth.

In reality the CPRS is just another tax. The CPRS provides a substantial financial windfall for the government. Labor’s scheme is set to raise $12 billion in its first year. That is more than $400 contributed by each Australian, compared to $57 per American under their country’s own proposed scheme. I refer to a recent article by Terry McCrann which I recommend that everyone should read and, by the way, I have sent it out to my electorate. It calls the proposed CPRS what it really is: a tax. Mr McCrann says:

It starts out in 2012-13 raising about a quarter as much as the GST. … Almost $12 billion in its first full year, 2012-13.

It is the equivalent of increasing the GST from 10 per cent to 12.5 per cent in that year.

…            …            …

Imagine the uproar if the government had proposed raising the GST to 12.5 per cent. That’s 12.5 per cent, in year one, with it able to go to 15-20 per cent or higher, as events, not parliament, then took it.

It’s the same old high-taxing Labor! Mr McCrann makes a good point that perhaps it would have been easier for us to sell the GST if we had called it a goods and services scheme. Realistically, the CPRS is the biggest tax grab in history. Companies pay to pollute, as the member for O’Connor has been saying for ages. All this scheme does is allow polluters to pollute if they pay. There is no incentive for them to reduce pollution if they can afford to pay for it. Those large so-called ‘rich’ emitters will take the cost on board and keep polluting. Those that cannot meet the cost will move operations offshore to countries where there are no schemes in place—for example, Indonesia, which can pollute at will because it is called a developing country—and they will take Australian jobs with them and make an even greater contribution to global emissions. That is a lose-lose situation for us and for the rest of the world.

Global warming requires a global solution—experts agree, the global community agree and I agree. Australia has performed better than most developing countries in containing greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, Australia’s 1990 and 2000 levels were almost identical. That is equivalent to a five per cent reduction on 1990 levels. We were one of the few countries meeting Kyoto targets. Remember the Prime Minister racing off to sign Kyoto when we were already achieving the Kyoto targets and those who had signed Kyoto were not even reaching the targets? Without the high-emitting countries getting on board, any scheme that Australia adopts can do anything and everything but it will make little difference to the global situation.

Australia accounts for only 1.3 per cent of global emissions, making it 16th on the list of top emitters. By 2050 Asia will need twice as much energy as it does today. Not surprisingly, China is the biggest player in the Asian market, accounting for 60 per cent of Asia’s emissions alone. It must come to the table. China tops the list of global emitters, accounting for 21 per cent of global carbon emissions compared to Australia’s 1.3 per cent. Emerging countries like China expect the rest of the world to make dramatic cuts by 2020 to accommodate their expanding economies. If the richer countries are prepared to do that, there must be some concessions.

Obviously, India is on the rise too, contributing 5.3 per cent to global emissions. India is rapidly increasing its emissions and population. It is likely to rival China in the emissions stakes. We have China and India as high emitters but they do not want to be involved in any reduction scheme. Among the top 10 emitters are the USA, Russia, Japan, Germany, the UK, Canada and South Korea. In fact, you have to pass by Italy, Iran, Mexico, South Africa, France and Saudi Arabia before you get to Australia. To put this in perspective, essentially the combined emissions of China, the USA, Russia and India make up half of the global emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. The top 10 countries made up 67 per cent of emissions on 2006 figures. So many of the countries that I have just mentioned do not have to comply with any targets because they are considered to be developing economies. Mr Rudd is kidding himself if he thinks that Australia should be the world leader on reduction schemes and penalises Australia as a result.

Protecting key export industries means protecting jobs. Under the coalition amendments, key export industries, including coalmining, food processing, natural gas and aluminium, will be better protected, saving more than 20,000 Australian jobs under threat from the CPRS. Obviously, with many people in my Canning electorate working in alumina mining and refining, job protection is a huge concern to them. Should the industry be forced offshore to cheaper countries where there are no emissions schemes, I would estimate that more than 5,000 Canning jobs would be lost. And, as I said, Australia would also be exporting the pollution to countries such as our near neighbour, Indonesia, who does not have to comply.

Australia is the only country to indicate its consideration of a direct carbon cost on the gold sector, for example. In terms of gold production, Australia is behind China, the US and South Africa. A carbon cost on gold would impact on the re-established Boddington Gold Mine. Boddington Gold Mine will be the largest gold producer in Australia, and it is in my electorate. It will mine one million ounces of gold a year. Under the CPRS, costs may be increased by as much as $15 million to $40 million per year, or by about $40 per ounce of gold mined at Boddington. When jobs are cut, the flow-on effects to families, local businesses and small towns are devastating. At a time when we can least afford job losses, the coalition is adamant that any carbon scheme cannot cost Australian jobs.

Renewable energy and energy efficient technologies accounted for nine million jobs in 2007, and experts say that up to 37 million jobs could be created in the next 20 years. At a site just south of Pinjarra and Lake Clifton, the Lower Lesueur Carbon Dioxide Geosequestration Study is being undertaken to look into storage of carbon dioxide in the southern Perth basin. LNG will continue to be the fuel of choice. This is great news for Western Australian exports. The $50 billion Gorgon gas project off the coast of Karratha will make WA a leader in the storage of greenhouse gases. The project will create 600 full-time jobs and it will be a leader in geosequestration technology. It is estimated that three million tonnes of CO2 will be captured and stored per year for the next 40 years. The CO2 will be separated from the gas and injected into a saline reservoir 2,000 metres below Barrow Island. This will cut the project’s emissions by 36 per cent.

The best place to start any emissions reductions is in your own backyard. By including voluntary measures in a scheme, the environment will also benefit from individuals, businesses and community groups who develop their own initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Canning local governments have been proactive at a community level. The City of Mandurah has installed a 2.1 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on the roof of the Falcon eLibrary and Community Centre. It is estimated to generate around 3,720 kilowatts of electricity and save approximately four tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year. The City of Armadale aims to achieve its own reductions of six per cent per capita from 2006-07 levels by 2012 and up to 20 per cent from 1998-99 levels by 2022. The City of Armadale was part of the award winning South East Regional Energy Group ‘Switch Your Thinking’ initiative. This initiative was designed to get the local community involved in achieving regional emissions reduction of 15 per cent by 2010. Partnerships and community promotions have helped to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 250,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

It would be irresponsible to pass flawed legislation for an Australian ETS, particularly as it will not take effect until 2011, before we know what sort of global agreement will emerge from Copenhagen and from the US.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. BC Scott)—Order! Would those members entering the House do so quietly and not hold a conversation in the corridors. The member for Canning has the call and should be heard in silence.

Mr RANDALL —I do not expect the Labor Party to want to listen to anyone else’s point of view. The coalition is putting forward a viable alternative, with the interests of all Australians front and centre. The ball is in Labor’s court and history will judge Mr Rudd on this decision and the quality of his legislation.

In conclusion, this legislation should not be designed to cost Australian jobs, to export Australian jobs, to export Australian income or to export pollution to other countries who are not obliged to comply with the same stringent regulations that we are putting in place.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 2 pm, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 97. The debate may be resumed at a later hour and the member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.