Senator Alan Eggleston

Speeches

08

Senator EGGLESTON (Western Australia) (15:12): Senator Cameron says that we do not believe in climate change. That is quite wrong, Senator Cameron. I came from the south‐west of Western Australia, and I assure you that I believe in climate change. There has been a great decline in rainfall over the last 20 years, but climate change has been going on over the millions of years of the earth's history. The ocean has risen and fallen, there was once a land bridge to Indonesia and I went to Barrow Island last year where they can identify seven different sea levels over the last couple of thousand years. So climate change is real, but the argument is about what has caused it. For example, there are changes in the earth's orbit, sunspots and so on.

(Western Australia) (15:12): Senator Cameron says that we do not believe in climate change. That is quite wrong, Senator Cameron. I came from the south‐west of Western Australia, and I assure you that I believe in climate change. There has been a great decline in rainfall over the last 20 years, but climate change has been going on over the millions of years of the earth's history. The ocean has risen and fallen, there was once a land bridge to Indonesia and I went to Barrow Island last year where they can identify seven different sea levels over the last couple of thousand years. So climate change is real, but the argument is about what has caused it. For example, there are changes in the earth's orbit, sunspots and so on.

It is no doubt true that over the last few centuries there has been an increase in carbon levels, and we on this side do not in any way disagree with the idea of reducing pollution and making the earth a cleaner, greener place. I heard Senator Singh this morning telling us that there was no doubt that the science was settled, but it is a funny thing: I read a lot of articles by scientists who do not agree with the IPCC, and there is a lot of evidence that a lot of their findings were based on pretty shonky assumptions.

The ALP in the Senate this afternoon are crowing about the benefits that this carbon tax will produce. I can understand their euphoria, but it may be just a little premature because the passage of this bill in no way changes the validity of the facts, of which the coalition has been warning the Senate, about the adverse effects that this carbon tax might bring. The ALP seems to be so blinded by their euphoria that they have given no serious consideration to the facts which have been raised by the coalition about the consequences of this tax. I thought I might go through a few of them now.

There is no doubt at all that a carbon tax will impose an extra cost across the board on the Australian economy and on consumers. In fact it is undisputed that Australians, who will pay $9 billion in carbon tax each year, will see their electricity prices go up and up. There will be a 10 per cent increase in electricity bills across the board in the first year alone, a nine per cent increase in gas bills in the first year alone, higher marginal tax rates for low‐ and middle‐income earners and a $4.3 billion hit on the budget bottom line. Let us look at industry. A carbon tax will impose extra burdens on Australian industry. There is no doubt about it: it will make Australian industry less competitive.

Our competitors around the world do not have to pay carbon taxes, because none of our major trade competitors have carbon taxes. As far as the iron ore industry goes, we are already seeing investment go to West Africa. Chinese and Australian industry is going to new mines in West Africa. One of the more naive aspects of the current government is that they do not seem to understand that the mining industry is an international industry and the miners will go to the places where the costs are lowest—and naturally they look at their bottom line. If in Australia we are going to have a carbon tax and soon a mining tax, they will not stay here; they will go to the places where the costs are lower.

The Minerals Council of Australia last year said that the carbon tax will cost some 23,000 jobs plus secondary jobs in local businesses. That is a lot of jobs. I wonder how those people will feel about the ALP's actions today when there is no pay cheque to take home. We are told a carbon tax will progress to an emissions trading scheme in 2015. But, let us face it: none of our major trading partners have emissions trading schemes. The Chinese do not; nor do the South Koreans, the Japanese or the United States. We are going to set up this enormous scheme in 2015 and there will be no one to trade with. It will be the poor old Australian taxpayers who will have to bear the burden of the cost of that. I wonder if you will rue what you have done— (Time expired)

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