Senator Sue Boyce Crosses The Floor To Support Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme

With Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership of the Liberal Party facing a crucial partyroom vote tomorrow, a Liberal senator, Sue Boyce, has indicated that she will cross the floor to support the Rudd government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

Boyce spoke in support of the Emissions Trading Scheme proposed by the government.

She supported remarks by fellow Liberal Senator Judith Troeth who called for nuclear power to be considered as part of the solution to lowering carbon emissions.

Boyce said: “I must admit that I continue to be very concerned by some of the specious and fallacious arguments that are put around carbon. Yes, carbon is a necessary building block. Yes, it naturally occurs. But to suggest that, because of that, all forms of carbon in all quantities are reasonable is, in my view, specious and fallacious.”

Hansard transcript of speech by Senator Sue Boyce on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme bills.

BoyceSenator BOYCE (11:10 AM) —I rise today to speak with a heavy heart but in good faith. Last week in this place I urged senators to pass the amended CPRS bills. That continues to be my view. I continue to oppose the Rudd government’s unamended CPRS, but the changes that were negotiated in good faith, particularly by Ian Macfarlane and Malcolm Turnbull, have turned this into something that will assist not only Australia’s climate but also Australian business, Australian consumers and Australia’s energy-generating industries. It could be a solution to what I believe is a very real and uncontested problem that we must address in the near-term future, and that is the damage that climate change can do to this country if we do not act. It is part of the damage that climate change can do to the world. I am very much aware of the argument that has been put by many people that this must be a global agreement and it is ridiculous for Australia to act first.

My own background is as a manufacturer. In that sphere, I know the benefits of early adoption. I would just like to point out to the Senate that it was the Shergold task force, commissioned by the Howard government, who said, long before we got to this place, that Australia should not wait until a genuinely global agreement has been negotiated, because there are benefits which outweigh the costs in early adoption by Australia of an appropriate emissions constraint. That continues to be my view, but I think there are better ways to go about developing emissions mechanisms in Australia. A straight carbon tax, in my view, would have been the cleanest, easiest option, but that is not an option that is on the table. The option that we have is the CPRS as amended by Ian Macfarlane and Malcolm Turnbull. I was delighted to see yesterday that Mr Greg Combet has said that, irrespective of the outcome in the House, those amendments will form part of the Labor government’s policies around an emissions trading scheme. I hope that that is also a comment that has been made in good faith and will continue to be honoured by the Labor government.

I would like to associate myself with the remarks made by Senator Troeth. I think we now need to look at nuclear power as part of the solution to lowering carbon emissions. We are the only country in the G20 that does not have nuclear energy capabilities. I consider it completely hypocritical of the Labor government to have the stance that it does on Australia having nuclear energy whilst we are exporting all our uranium to assist others to have nuclear energy. I think we need to work very, very quickly in this area, and this has been borne out by Dr Ziggy Switkowski, from ANSTO, who was commissioned by the Howard government as part of our attempts to reduce emissions, to look at the question of nuclear energy. He continues to make the point that this is something that is not only feasible but necessary if we are to have the whole suite of measures that are needed to overcome the problems that are caused by carbon emissions.

I must admit that I continue to be very concerned by some of the specious and fallacious arguments that are put around carbon. Yes, carbon is a necessary building block. Yes, it naturally occurs. But to suggest that, because of that, all forms of carbon in all quantities are reasonable is, in my view, specious and fallacious. It is the same as suggesting that there is lots of chlorine around because there is a lot of seawater and claiming that all forms of chlorine and all quantities of chlorine are acceptable—when that is wrong. I become very concerned by people who use those sorts of false sciences to attempt to mislead Australian consumers into thinking that it is safe to continue to do what we are doing. As Senator Troeth pointed out, there are very few scientists in this place. But I think we should be using the science that is available to behave responsibly, not to encourage fear or scepticism that is wrong and unnecessary.

I realise that, by supporting the amended CPRS, I will disappoint many constituents within Queensland. I would like to say to them that I am acting in what I believe is good faith. I am supporting the party policy of less than 24 hours ago. When I rose to speak to say that we should accept the amended bill, I was supporting party policy. I find that I can do nothing else except continue to do that. I would ask people to accept and understand that from the viewpoint of many, many constituents this is the way to go. If you look at the areas of Northern Queensland and around the Great Barrier Reef, there is immense concern that action must start globally and it must start quickly. Part of starting that global action is for us to start. I do not see any problems with us being a first adopter; in fact, I see benefits. I would very much like to thank my colleagues on this side for their understanding and support of my view over the last few days.

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