Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme


Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (10.37 am)—I rise this morning to add my voice in opposition to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2009. Unlike the previous member, I do question the government’s motives in relation to this piece of legislation. I think this is a purely political piece of legislation at the moment. This is not an environmental piece of legislation, and I think that is evidenced by the lack of detail that we see within the legislation.


 When you hear a procession of Labor Party backbenchers speaking on this bill, you have to question their credentials in being able to understand science or the weather. We have heard a wide-ranging report on the weather over the next hundred years. We have heard from amateur scientists and wannabe weather readers. It feels like most of the members of the Labor Party’s backbench have missed their calling in life, because they seem to know what is going to happen over the course of the next 100 years with a whole degree of certainty, whereas every scientific report that I read is very conflicting about what is going to happen over the next 100 years.

Let us have a look at what the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change says. It says that there is going to be a 40-centimetre sea level rise in the next 30 years, yet the Office of Climate Change in Queensland and the Department of Sustainability and Environment in Victoria say there is going to be a 30-centimetre rise. I do not feel as though climate change recognises state borders. I do not think that, once you cross over from our great state of New South Wales to Queensland, there is going to be a drop in the sea level. The fact is that they do not know. They cannot figure it out. And that is the debate that is happening and raging around the planet at the moment. There is a great question about the science. Of course, anybody who raises any point on the science or the lack of certainty about what will happen over the next 100 years is labelled a ‘sceptic’. I can tell you one thing, Mr Deputy Speaker: I am sceptical of the ability of every member of the Labor Party’s backbench to tell me what is going to happen with the weather over the next 100 years. I am sceptical about their ability to understand science. I am sceptical about their ability to find carbon on the periodic table. I am sceptical of a whole range of things. What I am very sceptical about is the government’s strategy of reducing carbon pollution and long-term emissions by 60 per cent of 2000 levels by the year 2050. I feel as though it is a deeply flawed concept.


The member for Oxley raised the matter of GM. I think that finding a market based solution to emissions or greenhouse gases is probably the only way that we will be successful in achieving this in the long term. But, with the scheme in front us at the moment, the only certainty that will come out of this is that we will lose jobs in Australia. The only certainty here is that we will put all of our industries at a serious competitive disadvantage, when you consider that America—the largest economy in the world—will be protecting their industries 100 per cent until 2025. Yet we are here today rushing in a scheme that will put all of our export industries at a massive competitive disadvantage. It defies logic.


It is fascinating to me to consider what the member for Oxley said about General Motors, because if you go to America and you look at what kinds of cars they drive you will see they drive these massive pollution-emitting cars. The cars they drive over there are more like tanks. The market, naturally, has come to the conclusion that people have stopped buying these large heavy pollution-emitting vehicles; therefore, the market is signalling to those companies that they cannot sustain their current level of economic activity. It is what governments have been trying to achieve in the environmental space for decades coming to fruition through the market. People do not want big cars anymore. Yet what does the government do in the United States? It steps in to bail out the big car industries when the fundamental challenge for that industry is that people do not want big cars anymore. They do not want cars that emit so much. That is a good thing. That is a signal that governments have been trying to forecast and create for a long time. It is the kind of thing we need to be able to replicate without a punitive and harsh emissions trading scheme that will threaten so many jobs within this country.


We are limited in what we can say here this morning. The government has guillotined debate, in a sense. We do not have the chance to reflect on all of the measures within this scheme. I simply record that the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme here is flawed in its objective. It is being rushed in on a purely political basis without any idea about how we are going to sustain our industries in the long term against some very serious challenges. We ought to wait, we ought to review and we ought to have the necessary detail before we proceed. It is entirely proper that the Leader of the Opposition has sought to amend these bills. It is entirely proper that we are working to get a Productivity Commission report. I oppose this legislation.