I thank Senator Sterle very much for that dorothy dixer! I will have about 10 minutes to explain why net zero emissions would be a very bad deal for our nation's farmers and especially for our rural communities. Those conclusions that I make are just from very simple calculations and estimates from bodies like the CSIRO and from other respected economic modelling.
I want to start with the fact that often with these motions, when there is a quote from somebody, you could almost guarantee that it's a misleading quote, or at least a quote with a lot of detail left off. I know that in this case because, while the motion identifies the culprit as Barnaby Joyce with this quote, in fact the words were jointly authored by me and Barnaby in an opinion piece in February this year in the Australian. We did say that the Nationals have always been against a net zero emissions target—I stress: a target is what we've always been against—and that we could not credibly represent farmers if we were to adopt such a target. The paragraph in our opinion piece just preceding that quote, which wasn't included in the motion for reasons that will become obvious, said:
The problem is that cows and sheep have a tendency to burp and fart large amounts of methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Every cow emits about 2,300kg of carbon dioxide equivalent gases a year. The CSIRO estimated last year that to reach net zero we would need to start with a carbon price of $30 a tonne now. Even a relatively small cattle producer runs about 1,000 head. So they would be up for a $70,000 a year cost under a net-zero policy.
Those that do advocate net zero emissions often do so quite glibly. There is a lot of hand-waving. 'It's got great benefits; there are going to be lots of jobs.' There is not a lot of detail about exactly what net zero emissions means or how we're going to get there, but 'It's all going to be fantastic, just believe me!' The pitch from those pushing net zero emissions is the policy equivalent of the steak-knife salesman on late-night TV. There's always more; it's always fantastic. It's so good it can hardly be true, because it's not true.
Those figures I quoted are just the facts. How will farmers pay the 2.3 tonnes per head per year that their cows emit right now? How will they pay for that? What we didn't quote in that op-ed is that in the CSIRO's modelling it starts at $30 a tonne and grows to $250 a tonne by the end of 2050. Senator Sterle over there spent 10 minutes saying, 'We'll get to net zero emissions by 2050. The NFF says it's fine.' I don't think he knows these things. He said he wasn't a farmer. He doesn't know how much a cow emits. He doesn't know that if you charge someone over $200 a tonne, for the methane that comes out the front and end of a cow, you are then going to be up for $1,000 a head. That cattle farmer will be up for $400,000 a year. What are they going to do, Senator Sterle? How's that going to work? Who's going to pay for that?
It will be paid for at the self-service check-out at Woolies when you swipe your rump steak. When it comes up, you'll have to put your PIN in because it's going to be over 100 bucks. Every shop you do will be over $100. You won't be getting any free transaction approved. That's what will happen to Australian consumers, if this comes off. That's on the CSIRO's own figures. Worse than this, that's the impact on farming. Of course, such a policy to get rid of emissions from our economy, from our coal industries, from our gas industries, from our factories—we want to get more back; we want to get manufacturing back, don't we?—means they're all going to be paying for it.
There's been absolutely no detailed economic modelling put before the Australian people about those costs. The CSIRO did some costs on what the carbon prices would be but it did no proper modelling on what the impact on jobs and wages would be to the Australian economy. In fairness, the New Zealand government did do such modelling. They did computable general equilibrium modelling, which has flaws but gives you a broad estimate. They did some modelling on what it would mean to the New Zealand economy if they were to reach net zero emissions by 2050. They made some pretty outlandish assumptions about some technology being able to halve methane emissions from sheep and, I think, half the freight fleet was going to be electric. Anyway, they made some pretty generous assumptions. But even with those assumptions, the modelling showed that by 2050 the New Zealand economy would be 10 to 20 per cent smaller—a fifth, potentially, smaller—than today. There would be a two to four per cent loss of jobs in New Zealand as a result of net zero emissions.
If you translate that to Australia, that four per cent loss in employment, that would be 400,000 people. So before we glibly roll off the talking points—that all of you get in your morning inbox—that net zero emissions will create jobs and it's going to be great, just remember that the respectable detailed modelling that's been done would show that half-a-million-odd Australians would lose their jobs. Guess what? After that modelling was conducted, the New Zealand government exempted agriculture from their target—and in New Zealand half their emissions come from agriculture, so their net zero emissions target is literally half pregnant! Half of it doesn't exist, because they're not even going to try to reduce emissions in half their economy.
That's why this is all a marketing pitch. It's not real. It's not pragmatic. If there's one thing I know about people in the bush and the country it's that they hate people with spin. They can see through this from a million miles away.
Senator Sterle interjecting—
Senator CANAVAN: You're much better than this, Senator Sterle. This is all slick marketing spin from corporate offices in Sydney, because the people who will really make money out of net zero emissions are those bankers in Sydney. They're loving it! The AustralianFinancial Review had five stories on Tuesday morning bemoaning the fact that Barnaby Joyce was back, bemoaning the fact that net zero emissions might not come in. Why would the Financial Review be upset about that? Because our financial executives stand to make a lot of money out of net zero emissions, because you have to define 'net zero'. You have to create certificates. You have to trade them. That's where the bankers make a lot of money. Good luck to them. It's a career. But that's not what I want for our country. What I want for our country is that we bring back manufacturing jobs, that we stop getting ripped off by China and signing up to deals that they don't comply with, but we do.
The thing speakers that contribute to this debate need to answer is, if we do sign up to this—the whole intent of this is to lower emissions across the world. It doesn't matter what we do, except if the rest of the world is doing things we have to be a good contributor. The whole point is for the rest of the world to act as well. It won't mean anything if they don't.
Senator Sterle put a question to the Senate. Answer this question: if we can't trust China to comply and cooperate with the health inspectors investigating coronavirus, how do you think we can trust them to cooperate with the climate cops that will have to enforce any net zero emissions deal? Is that real? Are people really thinking that the Chinese Communist Party can be trusted when they say they are going to achieve net zero emissions by 2060? Is that a real position that people are putting? Do you really believe the Chinese Communist Party when they say that? Do you really believe them, when last year they installed 38 gigawatts of new coal-fired power stations in China—38 gigawatts, double our coal fleet in one year.
When Xi Jinping goes to Davos, he will say, 'I have subscribed to net zero emissions,' and all these bankers who want to make money out of it will lap it up. How great is it that China has come and seen the light? What a load of rot. We have to make sure we are not naive as a country right now; we cannot afford it. Maybe in previous eras we could, but, unfortunately, the next generation of Australians may face a tougher time of it than what we have all grown accustomed to in our relatively prosperous and peaceful era. We can see the threats in our region, the aggression in our region and we need to make sure we adopt policies as a country that are made here in Australia, not made in international agreements overseas for a class of people who want to make money off trading.
We need to make policies here in Australia that will bring back manufacturing jobs to this country, that will make sure we are a country that defend ourselves, support ourselves and not be beholden to agreements that are worked out in overseas capitals that betray the interests of the average working men and women of this country. That is what we need as a nation. And that is what, I know, Barnaby Joyce is focused on, the Nationals are focused on, because we will always put Australia first. In this chamber, there are flags that represent this country, Australia. In this chamber here, we should pass laws that represent that flag and this country, not the interests of those around the rest of the world.