Senator Alan Eggleston


I have heard of this before from Senator Cameron, that we on this side of the Senate do not believe in climate change, and I have said several times before—and I have a speech in front of me from 11 August 2009 that says this—that I believe in climate change and that climate change is real. I come from the south-west of Western Australia and I know rainfall in the south-west has dropped by something like 30 per cent over the last 25 years. We do not deny that climate change is real, Senator Cameron; we do not deny it at all. But we do disagree about the causes.
For example, the year before last I went to Barrow Island, where it is possible to demonstrate no less than seven different sea levels over the last few thousand years. If you go to Marble Bar in the inland, in the Pilbara, and dig into the dirt, you will find that you have seashells there. The Pilbara used to be an ancient seabed and there used to be a land bridge to Indonesia. So the seas have fallen and risen and this has gone on in a cyclical fashion over the millennia and it is part of the natural history of the earth. It is true, as you say, that since the beginning of the last century we have burnt more coal and produced more carbon dioxide. Nevertheless, the fundamentals are the same: the great galactic forces control the climate of the earth, so things like variations in the earth's orbit and the activity of sunspots. These things, Senator Cameron, are more important than a simple rise in carbon dioxide in terms of the magnitude of the forces needed to change the climate of the earth.

We do not deny that there has been pollution. In fact, we think pollution should be reduced. But we do not think this carbon tax is the way to do it. Here we are in Australia with 1.4 per cent of the world's pollution—that is all we contribute—so we are a very minor contributor to the levels of carbon dioxide in the world's atmosphere and yet the Labor Party plans to hit the people of Australia with the world's highest carbon tax. This is completely out of proportion and it is going to have really severe effects on the Australian economy and the lifestyle of the Australian people. As I said, here we are with just over one per cent of the world's pollution and we are going to be slugged by the world's biggest carbon tax.

Senator Cameron referred constantly to the science being decided. He referred to the International Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations. But obviously he reads very selectively about the IPCC because he does not seem to have noticed there have been a lot of articles critical of the IPCC and its methodology and the fact that a lot of their so-called experts are really junior- or middle-grade scientists chosen from around the world so there is a nice balance, in the way the United Nations does things. He ignores the fact that, in what must be one of the biggest scandals of the scientific world, the University of East Anglia, I think, was found to have cooked some of the results the IPCC bases its claims on. Even here in Australia, sadly, a few years ago at estimates we heard about a scientist in the CSIRO who was put under so much pressure because he did not agree with the accepted view of climate change—and, in fact, he was something of a sceptic about the causes and the impacts of climate change and so was pressured and ostracised—that he left and went to live in Norway, where he found a different kind of approach to scientific method and scientific research. I think that whole story was a very sad reflection on the commitment of the CSIRO to scientific research, because scientific research is based on the scientific method, where you do an experiment, you get results and you accept those results however surprising they might be. So this argument that Senator Cameron and the ALP in general put up, that the science of climate change is absolutely rock solidly proven, is really very far from being the case.

So here we are with Australia facing the imposition of a carbon tax from 1 July. Even though, as I have said, we only contribute 1.4 per cent of the world's emissions, we are going to have the world's largest carbon tax. We are going to be charged $23 per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted and that tax will go up year by year according to the government's own budget. It will be $29 a tonne by 2015-16 and that will be raking in for the government something like $9 billion a year and $36 billion over four years. By 2020 the carbon tax will be $37 a tonne—an enormous fee—and by 2050 it will be $350 a tonne as the world's broadest and biggest carbon tax. One has to wonder what the outcome of that will be. What will that mean for the average Australian? Who will pay, for example?

Everyone will pay. Electricity companies will pay the most and they are passing those costs directly on to the customers. In New South Wales the average price rise for electricity will be 18 per cent, with half directly attributed to the carbon tax. From 1 July this year, every time you turn on a light, boil the kettle, switch on the computer or put on the heating or air-conditioner, you will pay the carbon tax.
If you look around Australia, electricity bills will go up. In New South Wales it is 18 per cent; in Victoria 14.8 per cent; in Queensland commercial electricity bills will go up by 15.9 per cent; in South Australia 18 per cent, and the lucky people of Adelaide will be paying the world's highest prices for electricity; in WA the increase will be 12.6 per cent; in Tasmania 15 per cent; in the Northern Territory 9.6 per cent; and here in the ACT the lucky people will have an increase of 17.7 per cent. This means that ordinary Australians, the people we know living in the suburbs, ordinary people, are going to have to bear the cost of this tax, which is, as I have said, the biggest carbon tax in the world.

It is also going to affect industry. It will mean a huge imposition on industry. It is going to lead to losses of industry, industries like the cement industry and oil refining. Many mining companies say they will no longer do business in Australia once this tax and the subsequent emissions trading scheme are introduced because it will mean that there are cheaper places for them to operate in around the world and they will follow the cost trail and take jobs overseas. So this is going to have a very big impact on Australia and the Australian economy.

Yet, as I have said, there is nobody else in the world who is going to have a carbon tax of this size. The Europeans have a carbon tax but nothing like as big as this. When this changes into an emissions trading scheme as it is scheduled to in 2015, we are going to have the problem of the fact that, except for the small emissions trading scheme in the European Union, there will be nobody to trade our emissions with. Our major trading partners, the United States, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, are not going to have emissions trading schemes. Admittedly New Zealand has an emissions trading scheme, but very small. So the Australian public will end up bearing the cost of the emissions trading scheme, which will run into hundreds of millions of dollars a year, great increases in prices and the loss of jobs and industries for this country. That I think is an absolute tragedy.

Having said those things, I would like to move that we proceed to vote on this matter.
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