VIDEO COMING SOON
Chamber: Senate on 8/09/2022
Item: BILLS – Climate Change Bill 2022, Climate Change (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2022 – In Committee
Senator RENNICK (Queensland) (12:38): I’m pleased to continue this discussion. Senator Canavan made some very excellent points about modelling. But I’m not here to talk about modelling. I actually want to talk about measuring—about measuring data. Senator Canavan is an economist; I’m an accountant. The difference between economists and accountants is that we accountants actually have to count the real numbers.
It’s interesting that in my first ever Senate inquiry—it was a Senate inquiry into the Great Barrier Reef—my first ever question, to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, was: ‘Do you have a database of all the health KPIs relating to the reef that demonstrates a change or a trend from 1980?’ That’s when they first started recording data, or pretended to record data. The lady who was the head of the Australian Institute of Marine Science at the time spent the next seven minutes avoiding answering the question. All I wanted to know was: are these so-called scientists actually recording and measuring things like coral cover, things like coral growth rates, things like dissolved nitrogen, things like seagrass? And the answer is no. This is the problem. They make these extreme statements, like Senator Whish-Wilson did before, about how the Great Barrier Reef is dying. That’s completely wrong, because the recent data has shown that coral cover is now at record highs.
It’s very important to look into the detail of how this stuff is measured. Take coral bleaching, for example. They do these runs over the coral where they’ve got about a 50-metre boom on the back of each side of the boat, and that runs for about a kilometre. If they happen to find one little bit of bleaching on any coral, that entire area is then deemed to be bleached. That is so, so misleading.
Later that afternoon, the Queensland department of natural resources turned up. One of the great things I love about our federation is there’s always a wrangle between the two levels of government. The Queensland department of natural resources is responsible for measuring run-off from the waterways on our big rivers, especially our big rivers in North Queensland. I asked them what the margin of error was and what their confidence interval was in terms of their measurements of dissolved nitrogen as it ran out of the river. Their response was—and I have to say I was quite shocked—between 60 and 90 per cent. In other words, their accuracy isn’t even much better than a coin toss. This is something we see quite a lot of.
Now we jump to our old good friends at the Bureau of Meteorology. I’m not sure if the people upstairs understand that we actually have three databases of temperature in this country. We have the raw data set, we have the ACORN-SAT 1 and we have the ACORN-SAT 2 dataset. Most people don’t realise that when the media now report the change in temperature over the last hundred years they’re actually reporting using the ACORN-SAT 2 dataset. The Bureau of Meteorology themselves admit that they fudge their numbers.
I will give you one example, which is Marble Bar. There’ve been 13 adjustments. Don’t laugh, Senator McAllister; this is serious, and you need to take note of this, because this will be a question. There’ve been 13 adjustments to Marble Bar. Seven of them are statistical. In the little sub-footnote they say, ‘We don’t have to provide any documentary evidence for this.’ So, out of the 13 amendments—and some of them are valid, like you move a weather station, so you may have to adjust for different things. I get that. Sometimes you have to homogenise data, or at least try to work out what it would have been had you not moved. One thing they didn’t do I’ll touch on in a minute. But of course, they won’t do that. They just go: ‘We don’t have to provide data.’
The problem with that is they have a supercomputer that homogenises the data. The Bureau of Meteorology have admitted to me in estimates that this supercomputer has made 450 million iterations to the maximum temperature at Marble Bar and 250 million iterations to the minimum temperature at Marble Bar. What sort of a clown show are we running in this country when we’re spending billions of dollars to try and control the temperature or limit the rise in temperature, and the way the actual temperature is being measured is being manipulated by a supercomputer that makes 450 million iterations? And when you actually want to then go and dive down into the detail, they say, ‘We don’t have to provide any documentary evidence.’ If I did that as an accountant, if I went back and amended prior year records of a set of financial statements, I’d be thrown in jail.
I’ll just have another shot at Senator Canavan here: economists can change their models all the time. That’s the thing with models, you can change models all the time, but when it comes to real data, when you take that temperature measurement—
Senator Canavan interjecting—
Senator RENNICK: That’s true. With models you just fudge numbers, you change your assumptions, blah, blah, blah. But you don’t get to do that. If I say I’ve got a million dollars in the bank or I’ve got shares in a company and it says you’ve got a million dollars in the bank, you’d better have a million dollars in the bank. You can’t just go around fudging real data. I’ve asked the ABC about this in estimates, as well, because they report what the bureau calls homogenised data, what I call fudged numbers. If any other organisation did it they’d be thrown in gaol.
I’m not saying the way the temperature was measured a hundred years ago was always accurate, either, but the way you report it is with a margin of error. You can’t just go and change the number, because you don’t know how much it’s changed in the last hundred years, so you’re guessing.
Anyway, I want to talk about one other thing, this whole idea of job creation in the regions. Let me tell you that that is not the case. I happen to come from south-western Queensland, and the devastation to four great rural communities—Cunnamulla, Quilpie, Charleville and Thargomindah—because of the laws around mulga clearing has absolutely gutted that part of the world. The mulga blocks are being brought by foreign corporations, and they’re being locked up for carbon storage. When the farmers sell out, they move out of the shires, so those regions are suffering because their populations are declining. You’ve now got unmanaged mulga, and, let me tell you, you have to manage your mulga. You have to constantly push it. It used to be a lot of Mitchell grass—it wasn’t always all Mitchell grass—but you need to keep it relatively open. What we’ve now got means we’re going to have an overrun of feral pigs and feral goats. Dingos are getting out there again, and that’s not good. Then it will eventually be a fire hazard—heaven forbid. Luckily it’s acacia and not eucalypts, but it can burn and, if it gets going, it will burn.
I’d also like to talk about my home town of Chinchilla and how you’re going to create jobs. I note Senator Pocock said, because he listens to ABARES, that farmers’ incomes are off 20 per cent. Well, I tell you that’s not due to climate change. That’ due to all the red tape and green tape around climate change. I know one farmer who brought a property at Chinchilla recently, and he had to find out what he can do in cultivation A little part of it was zoned a blue zone, so he went to confirm this with the department of natural resources. He also had to confirm it with another department in Queensland, the environment department. Guess what? They came back with a different definition of what the blue zone was. Then this farmer had to employ a consultant to go back to the bureaucrats to get them to work together to define what the blue zone was, because of these stupid arbitrary laws that the government makes up.
This sort of constant red tape and green tape out there is absolutely killing our farmers. These guys are the backbone of the country. I note that we’ve got 40 different models to determine net zero and all these arbitrary crazy models on different regulations—they discount coal, for example, at 14 per cent but they discount renewables at seven per cent; that’s a great way to fudge a set of numbers. That’s what we see. My question is: what dataset will the Labor Party be using? Will they use the dataset that’s recorded at the time the temperature is measured, or will the Bureau of Meteorology continue to go back and change prior years’ data in order to push their narrative and the Labor Party’s narrative?