Carbon Pricing Take Note of Answers

I rise to take note of the answer of Minister Wong. Her answer was dreadful. She said that, just because the legislation has been passed, this Senate should not take note and be aware of the flaws in the logic in the modelling that led to it. When Senator Wong was a student at one of Adelaide’s best colleges, Scotch College, I am sure they would have covered in her English classes Arthur Miller’s book All My Sons, where Joe Keller was rightly condemned by people because he allowed faulty components to go into wartime service. That killed people and he was rightly condemned, and the whole book is based around his guilt and how he dealt with that. This government should hang its head in shame that it has forced faulty legislation based on faulty modelling based upon faulty logic upon the communities, the industries, the families and the individuals of Australia.

The fundamental questions—is it needed, will it work and what are the unintended consequences?—have not been addressed by this government. Individuals will be worse off. The carbon emissions of Australia will still go up. Electricity prices will increase by a certain amount, depending on who you believe—and I will cover the range of modelling, because there are many models that the government relies on for its facts and figures, although it does not acknowledge that there are a range of opinions out there. But the best case scenario, under its own modelling, is that there will be a 10 per cent increase in the price of electricity. The New South Wales Treasury says 15 per cent, the Electricity Supply Association of Australia says 20 per cent and the Centre for International Economics says 30 per cent by 2020. Take your pick: left or right, smallest or biggest. That is a huge impost on individuals, families and, most importantly, on business and on manufacturing.

There are media releases in South Australia today about OneSteel and the fact that their Whyalla plant may need to close because of the pressures on them. So what does this government do? It releases a policy that is not going to impact our climate beneficially, that will put OneSteel’s operations and all those people who rely on it for employment that much more at risk. And there is the defence industry in South Australia. This government have gone on the public record time and time again boasting the fact that they are trying to position Australia’s defence industry to be part of the global supply chain. They say that it needs to be competitive to be part of that global supply chain and that if it is not competitive it will not survive because the Australian market is not big enough. So what do the government do? They impose a carbon tax which means the industry will not be competitive. Using the government’s own logic, this measure, which will not help the environment but will penalise people in Australia, is going to make our defence industry non-competitive. The defence industry is not just about jobs in Labor marginal seats; the defence industry is part of our national defence capability.

This government should hang its head in shame that it is not prepared to revisit faulty modelling, faulty logic and faulty proof that has led to legislation that is going to deliver very negative, unintended consequences. The minister should hang her head in shame that she was not prepared to revisit this rather than just saying: ‘The horse has bolted. Let’s close the door.’ Has she learnt nothing from the English studies I am sure she did about Joe Keller?

Even this week the draft IPCC report from Kampala in Uganda suggests very clearly that the evidence base used by this government had many political massages to arrive at the point where it believes that the tax is necessary. Look at things like renewable energy and comments that it can provide something like an 80 per cent reduction. It turns out that that is reliant upon a 40 per cent reduction in energy demand—the most optimistic of over 164 different submissions. Yet which one did they pick? They picked the one that makes their case the strongest. One of the most telling things to come out of this Kampala report from the IPCC is the fact that they are saying the very people whom we are trying to help—those who are poor and marginalised—are impacted by their poverty and by the standards of building and not so much by climate change. So this government stands condemned for continuing with this tax when the modelling is flawed and the reasoning is flawed, and the unintended consequences will damage Australians, families and businesses.