Senator BOSWELL (Queensland) (11:46): We are being asked to agree to a motion to appoint a joint committee to consider 18 bills that will come before this house in one cognate debate, in which each of us will have one minute per bill to speak. This motion gives us an opportunity to discuss why we need a full-blown Senate committee inquiry into these bills. This is the greatest con in the world. I can understand the Greens. I think Senator Macdonald was being a bit harsh on the Greens. The Greens have been very, very successful with this. They have been totally successful. Why are we rushing? Because Senator Bob Brown wants to go to South Africa and swan around and say, 'This is what I got.' That will increase the Greens vote—no doubt about it. So they have been terribly successful.
The most unsuccessful people in this parliament are the Labor Party. They are lining up like a bunch of lemmings to go over a cliff. It amazes me. It is almost as though it is fatalistic: 'We're going to die. Let's do it. Let's do it together.' Everyone in the Labor Party knows that at least 20 or 30 of them are going to be collateral damage. But the Greens have told them to charge: 'Go into it. We've blown the whistle. Go over the top.' And, like lemmings, they are going over the top, and they are going to get completely wiped out. But they cannot see it. They cannot see that they are being led around by the nose by the Greens. The people out there see it. They see the Greens now as anti-Semitic. They see the Greens as supporting the boycott of chocolate shops. Even the Greens vote is going down. But when the Greens vote goes down it is two per cent off the Labor vote also. I warned Labor when they were at 34 per cent. I said, 'Disengage yourself from the Greens or you will bottom out at 25 per cent.' Well, they have bottomed out at 25 per cent. They are at 27 per cent now, but the Greens have lost two per cent and that takes them to 25 per cent. They have bottomed out.
Senator Hanson-Young interjecting—
Senator BOSWELL: Senator, you should be very proud of yourself. You have led these people into a perfect trap, an unbelievable trap. The surprising thing is that they are too stupid to see it. But they know that, come the election, there is going to be an execution. Twenty or 30 of them are going to be collateral damage. We know it. The polls are telling us. The people are telling us. I have not seen Labor on the nose so badly since 1974. People distrust the Labor Party because they have been misled and they have been lied to.
But let us get back to the debate. There are three totally good reasons that this is an absolute con and cannot work. First, if a carbon tax is going to work it has got to be imposed on the whole world. It is no good Australia, with 1.4 per cent, pulling its weight or doing more than its share. It is not going to make the slightest bit of difference. You have got to go out and convince the people in the Third World countries—the big emitters, the people that are trying to make a quid, the governments that are trying to pull their people out of poverty—that they should pay an increased price on their handful of rice, on their cooking oil, on their electricity, on the steel they use, on the cement they use. You have got to convince the people of Indonesia, the Philippines, India. And do you think they are going to listen to you?
Those countries have not got the slightest intention of leaving their people in poverty, and neither should they. For this to work, you have got to convince them. So this fails on the first attempt. You will never convince the people in the Third World—and you should never be able to convince them—that they have got to starve, live in inferior houses and not have any industry because nine of you over there want to take the Labor Party around by the nose.
The second reason it will not work is that it is based on a lie. This modelling is a lie. It is based on the assumption that every country in the world is going to achieve this by 2016. You do not have to believe me, but a guy called McKibbin, who is one of the leading economists in Australia, has said that there is absolutely no modelling that the government is prepared to release.
A person called Henry Ergas says in an article:
Answering these questions would be easier if the government opened the kimono on the actual model. Given access to the model itself, we would know exactly what it assumes. And the implications of changing those assumptions could be tested.
The government will not release its model. The other day in a Senate Committee on Climate Policy hearing I asked Ms Quinn whether anybody could buy this modelling. She said yes. I asked if someone was to rock up with a cheque in their hand, could they buy the modelling. Someone was listening to me at the time, and he went with a cheque in his hand wanting to buy the modelling. He was refused the modelling. So the modelling is not there. There are reams and reams of paper but the official modelling is not available. That is another case of misleading the parliament, of misleading the people. This carbon tax is based on an assumption that the rest of the world is going to comply by 2016. That is not going to happen, and everyone in Australia knows it is not going to happen.
The third reason is China. In 2021 China will replace Australia's projected emissions reduction—57 million tonnes—in just one day and Australia's projected emissions savings, including purchase of international permits, in less than four days. I remind the Senate that China's consumption of coal grew by 15 per cent in 2010. It went to 435 million tonnes. Australia only produces 420 million tonnes. So the total production of Australia's coal, which is a major export, would go over to China.
Reducing carbon emissions has to be approached on a world basis. People out there are not stupid. If you could turn up and say 'I can assure you that this will work', you might get a bit of bite out there in the electorate. But you are not getting that. People would probably listen to you if you could prove that it would work. But there are three reasons it will not work. Firstly, you will not ever convince Third World countries that they can do it—they cannot do it. They are trying to pull their people out of poverty while the Greens sit over there on their parliamentary salaries and try to keep the Third World in poverty. That is what they are trying to do. The second reason it will not work is that it is based on an assumption that everyone else in the world will be working off the same plan in 2016. The third reason it will not work is that China is upping and upping its use of coal—and it is cutting down wind generation, because it is inefficient. That is an issue for another time.
We need time to investigate these facts that I have raised. They are facts supported by prominent modellers and economists—but they cannot get the government's modelling. I asked about the modelling and was told that people could get it, but when someone rocked up with a cheque they were told they could not get it. The Labor Party is supposed to represent workers, and it knows it is going to destroy jobs, so why is it going ahead with the legislation? Because the Greens want it. Senator Macdonald was a bit harsh on the Greens.
The Greens have played the Labor Party off a break. The stupid part about it is that the Labor Party does not even know it is getting played off a break. The leader of the Greens will go over to Durban and he will prance around on the world stage and say, 'Hey, look what I have done'. If he was really honest he would say, 'Look what I have done—I have confined the Third World to poverty; I have made sure they are not going to get out of poverty'. That is, effectively, what the Greens want. They want Aboriginals to stay in poverty; they do not want them to use their own land and they do not want them to work in the cement industry or in an industry on Stradbroke Island. They want to close it all down and keep people in poverty. If that is what the Greens want to do, and that is where their market is, good on them. But I fail to understand why the Labor Party just meekly follows the Greens down this path to destruction.
I want to illustrate one case, speaking on behalf the National Party and the coalition. Some of the biggest employers in rural Australia are abattoirs. They employ huge numbers of people. You can roughly equate the number of cattle killed per day with the number of people employed in abattoirs. This tax is going to cost abattoirs between $2.5 million and $3.5 million. That is a big variation; they are still working on the figure—but it is certainly $2.5 million and probably higher. These abattoirs are the iron lungs of country Australia. They employ the people who live in the towns and then there are teachers in the towns, and so it goes on. The abattoir I have in mind is a huge employer, and it sustains the town. A carbon tax placed on the abattoir will affect the town.
What will happen to these 600 workers? According to the Greens: 'It'll be right. Just pass your costs on.' But this particular abattoir is competing overseas against countries which do not have a carbon tax. Our companies will have to sell meat, with a high dollar and no carbon tax, while competing against others who have no carbon tax. They are terrified.
There are implications not only for abattoirs. If you take an abattoir out of the buying ring, it affects the price with the pressure pushing up the price of cattle. The other day probably the second last tannery in Australia rang my office. This guy said to me, 'I will need a miracle to survive. I'm doing it hard now but I cannot see how I will survive when a carbon tax comes.' There are another 200 process workers at this tannery, people who would probably find it hard to get a job anywhere else. The implications from that are not only for the 200 people. This particular tannery works on kangaroo leather—it makes cricket balls and footballs. I am glad you think it is funny, Senator Ludwig. It is about as funny as you closing down the cattle industry in North Queensland. I hope you get a laugh when you find everyone going broke because of your ill-considered—
Senator Ludwig: Madam Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. Could you kindly address your remarks to the chair, Senator Boswell. Senator Boswell, the humorous issue was about something other than what you were talking about, quite frankly, but I do not think I need to make that personal explanation. It would be better if you kept to the debate at hand rather than wander, as you seem apt to do, across a whole range of areas.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Crossin): Senator Boswell, I want to remind you that we are debating the motion moved by Senator Ludwig in reference to a message from the House of Representatives.
Senator BOSWELL: If the minister was showing amusement about something else, I do apologise. We have in front of us a mental picture of closure of abattoirs and tanneries, where process workers are to be put on the dole. So you cannot blame me, if I see someone on the other side smiling, for getting upset about it. If Senator Ludwig tells me he was amused by some other issue, I accept that and I apologise.
In 2050, we are going to be sending $57 billion offshore to buy certificates. What are we going to get for it? Nothing—we are going to get some certificates back. We cannot even run renewable energy. There are so many scams happening now on renewable energy. What do you think is going to happen when we have to buy certificates from Western African countries? Do you think they are going to be fair dinkum? What are we going to buy? Even Norway, a fairly sophisticated country, is at the moment in the middle of a huge scam on emissions trading certificates.
This is designed to fail. The tragedy will be that in failing it will destroy a lot of manufacturing jobs in Australia—in the tanneries, in the abattoirs, in rural Australia and in Golden Circle right in the heart of Mr Swan's area. People will be able to buy imported pineapple from Thailand or wherever they bring it in from. But the great Golden Circle company will have to pay a carbon tax. Already it is under pressure and shedding jobs. Already imports are coming in because of a high dollar. All these things are happening now and they are happening right in front of us.
What is the Labor Party's answer to manufacturing? 'Don't worry about any of that. We'll get Peter Beattie. We'll pay him a thousand bucks a day and he will fix it all.' If that is not shades of GroceryWatch, Fuelwatch or 'Peter Beattie watch', I do not know what is. It is a shame and a nonsense. You will not address the issue because you will not stand up to the Greens. We saw it yesterday. You would not support a resolution condemning the Greens because they are your partners. You are handcuffed to them and they are leading you around and playing you all for fools. I do not know when you will wake up. Sometimes I do not think you will ever wake up, but one day, when there is an election—and that election could come any time between now and in two years—there will be a severe reckoning with the Labor Party.
We need a meaningful Senate or House of Representatives inquiry to investigate these 19 bills. There are going to be mistakes—there always are mistakes and unintended consequences. We are going to spend the next 12 months trying to sort them out through amendments because we have to get there before Senator Bob Brown goes to Durban. This is another example—if we needed further examples because we get them every day of the week—of the Greens telling the Labor Party what to do. The people have had a gutful of it. You should stand up and get a bit of courage. You should stand on your own feet!