I think it's great that the Greens have moved this motion this evening in the Senate, because it once again highlights the difficulty that the Greens political party seem to have in conceiving the concept of democracy. It's, I thought, a pretty simple system we have here—a tough system, but a simple one—where we have these things called elections in our country every three years for the federal parliament. There are certain policies put forward by different political parties at those elections. The Australian people choose which of those parties or groups they'd like to rule them, and those policies then are generally, hopefully, implemented and promises are kept, hopefully, and passed through this place.

But, of course, the Greens don't like what the Australian people have said over the past decade, so now they're hoping, wishing, praying and trying to get through this place that we encourage other nations to rule us. We encourage other countries to tell us what we should do here in this country and how we should govern ourselves! The Greens would effectively disenfranchise the Australian people and say, 'Your views are simple, your views are not sophisticated enough and your views don't accord with a globalist agenda that other countries have adopted, so they should be imposed on you regardless of what you vote for or who you support.' That is the position of this motion. The position of this motion says that we should—and Senator Waters just outlined it there—adopt carbon taxes and carbon prices very soon so we can avoid other countries trying to force us to do something through carbon adjustment border mechanisms, or otherwise just put tariffs and taxes on us. So, because the Greens haven't been able to convince the Australian people to impose a tax on themselves, they are wishing and hoping other countries impose a tax on this country. How un-Australian can you get! Whatever your views are on what we should do on climate change, how could you credibly sit there and be wishing and praying other countries tax Australia? That is what this motion calls for. Anyone who supports it—the Labor Party supports it—are supporting other countries taxing this country, taxing our jobs, taking away our income and making us poorer as a nation because of it.

Let's just go through the record here. Let's just spell out the track record of the last decade in terms of putting forward policies of this nature, putting forward carbon taxes and carbon prices or whatever you want to call them—there have been lots of names, which I'll go through. Let's go through and see what the Australian people decided, because this did start about a decade ago when then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd adopted the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, the CPRS. At the time, he did have it for a while. Then it became a bit tough for him—it was the 'greatest moral challenge of our time' then wasn't. But we went to the election in 2010, and the Labor Party effectively lost—it was a draw really—and then they had to get the support of some country Independents to govern. The Australian people weren't happy with the CPRS. Rudd had sort of got it rid of it before, and Ms Gillard then stood at that election saying, 'There'll be no carbon tax from the government I lead.' The Australian people voted for parties. Neither party had a carbon tax in their policy. In fact, the then leader of the political party, who became the Prime Minister, explicitly said she would not impose a carbon tax. Anyway, that promise was broken. The Labor government at the time went against the will of the Australian people. They imposed that tax, which played a big part in the fact that they got smashed in the 2013 election. They lost on a policy of a carbon tax—another loss for a carbon tax.

In 2016 Mr Mark Butler—long may he rest now he's no longer the shadow climate minister—took forward an emissions intensity scheme to the election. It was another loss for the Labor Party. It was defeated at the 2016 election. The Australian people rejected that too.

And then a couple of years ago, in 2019, Mr Bill Shorten took forward a policy of a 45 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. It was a bit unclear whether it would be through a carbon price or a carbon tax, but it was a significantly larger emissions reduction than the coalition policy had committed to in Paris, and again—again—it was rejected by the Australian people.

So we're zero from four for a carbon tax or a carbon price over the last decade, yet still we hear the Greens—and, I don't know, maybe Labor here this afternoon—wishing, hoping and praying that a carbon tax will be imposed on the Australian people by hook or by crook, by whatever means they deem necessary.

Instead of cheering on other countries imposing taxes on our own jobs, our own income, our own wealth, our own people, we should be standing up for what we're doing right in this country. The hypocrisy of other nations that would seek to do these things! I think the chances of these border adjustments are very remote, for the very simple reason that if other countries adopt them they'll have to apply them to themselves. To be in any way consistent they'll have to apply them to themselves. In Europe, where a lot of these calls are coming from, 21 of the 27 countries are not on track to meet their Paris commitments. So what are they going to do? Are they going to reintroduce tariffs within Europe? Are they going to get rid of the EU? They're applying this policy, and it's being applied to members who are not meeting their climate change goals; well, there should be a reimposition of tariffs among European countries for those countries that are laggards, that are not meeting their targets. In fact just last week a French court ruled that the French government are not meeting their Paris commitments right now. Are they going to apply these taxes to themselves? I don't think they will. These seem like empty threats.

You then go back to the Kyoto agreement, which came due last year. The Kyoto agreement commitments were made in 1997, I believe. I might be getting that date wrong. It was sometime in the late 1990s that the Kyoto agreement was finalised. Countries made various commitments to cut their emissions by 2020. A lot of countries didn't meet the target. We did. Australia met our commitments and our targets, but Canada didn't meet their targets and New Zealand didn't meet their targets. Are they going to impose carbon adjustment border mechanisms on themselves? How are they going to tax their own products? I don't know how they're going to impose tariffs on their own products—an internal tariff would be an interesting thing to impose—but that would be the rationale under this scheme. We should be fighting against this hypocrisy and pointing out that that kind of behaviour cannot be tolerated at all, at any international level.

If we believe in an international rules based trading system and in free trade—which has come under a lot of pressure in the last 20 years for reasons well outside this debate—and want to continue to support it, where does all this go? What happens when a country turns around and says, 'If you keep culling your kangaroo herd we're going to impose a carbon adjustment border mechanism on you'? How much more national sovereignty will be impinged based on countries threatening or imposing tariffs on other nations? It is at the heart of the Westphalian system that countries should not be able to dictate the policies of another nation. For that reason I cannot see this particular proposal getting past first base. It hasn't yet. There has been a lot of talk and there have been a lot of threats, a lot of smoke and mirrors, but really it would completely destroy the system of nation-state governance and cordial relations between ourselves if it were to come into place, because it would go well beyond climate change if it were to happen.

Finally, I want to focus a little bit on the inherent absurdity of a lot of these proposals to save the planet through global action right now, in the current environment. I imagine that if these mechanisms were to come into place—if carbon tariffs were to be put in place—they wouldn't apply just to Australia; they would have to be applied to other countries too. I wonder how they're going to be enforced and checked. I wonder how other nations will determine whether a particular country is breaching its commitments and therefore deserves to have a carbon tariff imposed on it. I say that particularly in the context of what we've seen in the past week.

In the past week we've seen the international observers from the World Health Organization who travelled to China—and they spent months in China trying to uncover the origins of the coronavirus—come back empty handed. Indeed, it has been revealed this week that there are hundreds of blood samples that China is not sharing with these inspectors. They have not been able to come to any really worthwhile conclusions about the origins of the coronavirus.

According to those in this chamber who are taking the threat of carbon tariffs seriously, apparently in the future climate inspectors from, say, the IPCC—unlike those health inspectors who failed—will have no problems enforcing and disciplining countries like China and finding out whether they really are meeting their net zero targets. Does anyone believe this absurdity? Does anyone believe that China is going to allow climate inspectors into its country to determine how many coal-fired power stations it has and how much emissions it is producing? No way. Hell would freeze over before that would happen.

This whole motion is built on a mountain of absurdity. Senator Waters mentioned at the end of her contribution that there are only two options: we cut our emissions or we become subject to all of these tariffs. I would posit a third option: we listen to the Australian people. That's another option.

Senator Brockman interjecting

Senator CANAVAN: A radical option, Senator Brockman, would be that we listen to the Australian people, let democracy decide what we do in this country and make it very clear to other nations that we will not have any truck with other countries who want to impinge on our democratic, sovereign and independent rights as a nation to decide the policies that are imposed on the Australian people. We accept other countries' rights in that regard and we expect the same in return.

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