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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 2374

Senator CASH (2:00 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Minister Wong. Does the minister stand by her statement at the Poznan climate change conference on 12 December last year when, in arguing for a 2010 commencement of the government’s so-called Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, she said, ‘delay will simply increase the cost’?

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —Those opposite would certainly know about increasing costs in this area given that they delayed for a decade and more whilst in government. We know those opposite have delayed for years taking a position on this and are continuing to delay. We on this side of the chamber counted no fewer than seven positions from the opposition about when they are proposing to take a position on this. I look forward to the supplementaries because I would like to share with Senator Cash just how many positions delaying a decision in their party room they have put on the table. We know that the reason those opposite continue to delay making a decision is that Mr Turnbull cannot garner the numbers in the party room for one or either position, and many of the people in this chamber are amongst those most vitriolic when it comes to actually acting on climate change. But I will say this: yes, the government have been very clear about the need to act on climate change. We have indicated—

Opposition senators interjecting—

The PRESIDENT —Senator Wong, resume your seat. I cannot hear your answer. I am entitled to hear it, as others are.

Senator WONG —As you know, Mr President, the government have announced that we will be deferring the commencement date of the scheme for a year and will be having a one-year fixed price for the first year thereafter, recognising the current global economic crisis, something those opposite continue to try to avoid. But we do not want to delay the signal to investors or the need to provide certainty ahead of Copenhagen. (Time expired)

Senator CASH —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer the minister to the Prime Minister’s statement in September 2008 where he said:

To delay any longer, to stay in denial as the climate change sceptics and some members opposite would have us do, is reckless and irresponsible.

Does this government’s broken promise and move to delay their emissions trading scheme therefore mean that the Prime Minister of Australia is ‘reckless and irresponsible’ and a ‘climate change sceptic’?

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —That was quite an Academy Award performance from the senator, whom we know is one of the very climate change deniers and sceptics causing Mr Turnbull so many problems in the party room. You do not want to act because you do not believe this is real. You do not want to act and now you will hold onto any position to justify it. It is very interesting, isn’t it, that this is—

Opposition senators interjecting—

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Wong, resume your seat. I understand that it is budget day and that people are excited, but Senator Wong is entitled to be heard when answering the question.

Senator WONG —There is a reason we have business groups, such as the Business Council and the Australian Industry Group, and key CEOs, such as the CEOs of Shell, BP and others, saying that we need—

Senator Abetz interjecting—

Senator WONG —Yes, you want to interrupt me on this, don’t you, Senator Abetz, because you do not want to hear it. The fact is that responsible business is arguing for the passage of this legislation. The only people at the moment who are causing trouble on that front are the opposition, who still do not have a position. I recall Mr Hunt, for example, saying in December 2007— (Time expired)

Senator CASH —Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister advise the Senate by how much sea levels will rise as a result of her decision to delay the CPRS by a year? Was Minister Garrett correct when he claimed that sea levels are set to rise six metres unless urgent action is taken?

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —It is extraordinary that those opposite still seem to not recognise the science on this front. I would just remind the good senator that, for example, the Garnaut review found that the value of agricultural production—Senator Joyce should listen to this—over the next century is projected to decline by 97 per cent if emissions are not reduced. That is what we are looking at. But those opposite want to avoid this. What I am interested in is seven positions. In December 2007, Mr Hunt said that you would set targets after Garnaut, then it became the white paper, then the Treasury modelling and now, when you see the legislation, you are avoiding taking a position on this because you cannot come to a position in your party room. What we say is this: why don’t you listen to environmental advocates? Why don’t you listen to the business community— (Time expired)