Matter of Public Importance - Climate Change

I think the introduction of this motion from the Australian Greens is a classic example of hoisting yourself on your own petard, because it's the Australian Greens coming into this chamber criticising other political parties for not doing adequate costings. This is a party that regularly proposes policies which are uncosted—which have no basis in what they would cost—and it is now claiming that we are doing the same and criticising us for doing the same.

Some might not remember, but it wasn't that long ago that former Treasury secretary Mr Ken Henry made the very apt claim that there wasn't a computer large enough to cost the Greens' policies. They were that radical and that out there that there was not the processing power available in the world, according to Mr Ken Henry, to cost the Australian Greens' policies. There have been advancements in microchips and processes since then. Perhaps we've got to the level where we can run an economic model to cost the Greens' policies, but I'm a bit sceptical. No evidence has been presented by the Australian Greens in this debate that that is possible just yet.

The costs of our climate change policies were modelled. We did produce economic modelling last year about the cost of meeting a 26 to 28 per cent target. In fact, we actually produced modelling back before the Paris Agreement was signed. I think I remember Mr Greg Hunt commissioning modelling from Warwick McKibbin's economic modelling outfit, which outlined the costs of the commitments we were taking to the Paris negotiations at that time. We updated those last year ahead of the election. We were upfront with the Australian people that there would be a cost associated with reducing our carbon emissions to our commitment of a 26 to 28 per cent reduction by 2030. We've been upfront about that. There is a cost.

The people that are not being upfront in this debate are those that are trying to claim that there would be no cost to the Australian economy by reducing carbon emissions. That is a fairytale that the Australian people understand well. The Australian people have a very good radar for when they're being sold a pup—especially a pup by politicians who have a tendency to gild the lily on their own policies.

The idea that's been presented by the Australian Labor Party over the last week, that somehow we could get to net zero emissions in just 30 years time—and that there won't be a coalminer lose their job, there won't be increased costs on the Australian people and there won't be a hit to our productivity, our economic growth and our wealth—is an absolute fantasy, and the Australian people know it. There's the absurdity of the leader of the Labor Party in this place, Senator Wong, saying the other week that it doesn't matter what the costs are, because the costs of inaction are 20 times higher. There was no basis for it being 20 times higher, there were no calculations and there was no proper analysis. It was a figure literally pulled out of her backside.

Fortunately for us, there has been some attempt to cost these types of policies around the world. New Zealand have adopted a net zero emissions target, and, while I don't support this policy, I at least give the New Zealand government credit for actually commissioning economic modelling into that target. That economic modelling makes pretty sobering reading. Their own modelling, commissioned by the New Zealand government, showed that a net zero emissions target in New Zealand would have halved the dairy sector, would have reduced their GDP by 21 per cent and would have put wages down by up to 28 per cent. This is hundreds of billions of dollars of cost applied to the Australian economy, and our economy, of course, is more carbon intense than that in New Zealand. Because of those costs in New Zealand, the New Zealand government ultimately exempted agriculture from their net zero target. Agriculture produces 48 per cent of New Zealand's emissions and they have just completely exempted it, because of those costs.

Meanwhile, the Australian Labor Party, with no costings and no analysis, has left open the question that agriculture would be included, that our nation's farmers would be in the gun from a policy that even the New Zealand government has not adopted. The Australian Labor Party, without any analysis or any numbers, is seeking to put a massive new tax and constraint on agricultural development in this country.

I'll finish on this point: the Australian Labor Party is running around quoting the recent CSIRO report that says we can achieve zero emissions. They obviously haven't read the 400-plus page technical report to that, because it says that agricultural production would be in substantial decline under a net zero emissions policy. That is the policy the Australian Labor Party has signed up to—to a decline in agricultural production, to hit our farmers and to make sure our economy is weaker in the future.

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