Labor and the Greens are still refusing to hold an inquiry into the impacts of renewables on our farmland, waterways and National Parks.
It’s clear they don’t want the public to know the damage renewables do to the environment.
Chamber: Senate on 8/11/2023
Item: COMMITTEES – Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee – Reference
Senator RENNICK (Queensland) (18:37): I rise to speak in favour of this motion the very simple reason that this side of the chamber cares about the environment. For so long we’ve heard that side of the chamber pretend to care about the environment, but, when the rubber hits the road, they go running. And it’s not just the environment that we care about. We care about the economy because, without cheap energy, we cannot power the homes and the businesses that provide jobs to the hardworking Australians across the country. It’s not just the economy and it’s not just the environment; it’s about our farmland and about our culture. Most of all, it is about respect: respect of property.
For the benefit of those listening at home, I’ll read out what this motion says, because this matters. This is an inquiry into the construction of transmission lines, windmills et cetera across our country: across our farmland, across our oceans, across our national parks. Some of the issues we’re going to be looking at are ‘the provision and disbursement of compensation under Commonwealth, state and territory governments compulsory access and acquisition’. Compensation is very important. If there’s one thing that governments are very good at doing, it’s screwing people. It’s shafting them. We do not want to see our farmers, fishermen and whoever else get destroyed by the government. I hear from constituents every day whose government, the bureaucrats, are putting up wall after wall of impediments in their lives. I think that people are more than happy to pay some taxes in return for essential services, but they’re not happy for governments to control them to within an inch of their lives.
Another thing that this inquiry wants to look at is identifying best practice approaches to the development and implementation of a national approach to compulsory access. Best practice is something that is sadly lacking in government. The words ‘quality assurance’ never pass the lips of a bureaucrat. There is only one word that ever comes out of their mouth, and that is the word no. It’s not like, ‘Yes, we can find a way to do that.’ No, it’s never that. It’s always, ‘No, we can’t do that.’ We just saw it recently in estimates, in the RRAT committee, where we had a bureaucrat on over $900,000 complain that his 2,000 staff had to answer 400 questions over a five-week period. No, that’s all too hard. But that’s our bureaucracy for you. When it actually comes to serving you, they don’t want to know about it, but, when it comes to controlling you, they love it. You can just see them licking their lips.
Another thing this inquiry is going to look at is measures required to secure the rights of landowners, farmers and fisheries to maintain and safeguard the continued productivity of agriculture and fisheries, including emergency management. Can somebody tell me how this doesn’t matter? Property rights is a fundamental right of any democracy. This is something that warrants investigation. But, of course, does the Albanese Labor government want transparency? No, of course not. So many times in this chamber, since the Albanese government has come to power, we have asked for the detail and transparency and we have not got it. I know my colleague Senator Duniam wanted quarterly reporting from the Productivity Commission on the cost of energy prices. I was taught this in the private sector: what gets measured gets improved. It’s called benchmarking. But does the Albanese government want to measure anything? No, of course not. We asked for the vaccine contracts. Did we get them? No. We asked for the minutes of the National Cabinet. Did we get them? No. We asked for the details of how many nurses are employed in aged-care centres on a 24-hour basis. Did we get that detail? No.
Yet again the Albanese government is running for cover because they know they don’t want to actually compensate the farmers and they don’t want to compensate our fishermen. These guys are determined to destroy primary and secondary industry in this country. I’ve said this many times in this chamber. Who can remember the Button plan of 1985 that destroyed manufacturing? And we can replace manufacturing with the Dawkins plan in 1990 where we decided to send everyone to university so they could get a degree. And of course our children today graduate from university broke and brainwashed, without one real-life skill in the world. So now we import everything. We have to go back to our basic values. We have to go back on the tools, and we cannot do that if we destroy our primary industry.
What else we got on here? Personally I think there’s enough already, but I’m just going to read some out. There’s the interaction and efficiency of compulsory access, secure land rights, best practice, proper compensation and consultation. Consultation—now that’s a good idea. I’ll mention Senator Pocock’s contribution to this last night. His idea of consultation is for the bureaucrats to have a little committee to look at it, led by a bloke by the name of Andrew Dyer, who was the National Wind Farm Commissioner. This guy has been knee-deep in the renewable subsidy industry for years. The last time I looked, in a democracy, it is the representatives who actually do the scrutiny in this place, not the bureaucrats. As we know from the last referendum, they are completely out of touch with the rest of the country on what really matters. They are the last people that we want looking at this issue.
Speaking of bureaucrats, who could forget my last question to the CSIRO in the recent round of estimates? I asked quite a reasonable question: Which one of the 40 models are we going to use to calculate net zero? That’s right—the science is settled, but there are 40 different models. The CSIRO’s answer—I can’t wait to put this one up on my social media; this is going to run—was: ‘That’s the great thing about science. You can have 40 different ways of calculating something and you all get the same result.’ At that stage, the chair, Senator Walsh, cut me off. I said, ‘That’s not an answer, Chair.’ She said, ‘Your time’s up.’ I would have responded with: ‘You do get the same result—that is, the taxpayer being shafted.’ They have a right to know which model out of the 40 different models that are out there to calculate net zero Australia is going to use and which models other countries are going to use. We do not want regulatory arbitrage going on here whereby we start gaming the calculations. I know from another set of questions I asked the CSIRO previously that the phytoplankton in the ocean, which absorbs 70 per cent of the world’s CO2, doesn’t even come into it. How on earth can you calculate your net contribution to carbon dioxide if you’re not going to take a look at the full picture, at the entire biodiversity of planet Earth?
I love planet Earth. When I was a young chap, I quit my job and went backpacking around the world. I knocked back a job to work in Switzerland and kept travelling. I went to 85 countries, climbed mountains, scuba dived, surfed—you name it. I love planet Earth. There’s probably no-one more qualified in this chamber to tell you how beautiful planet Earth is. Let me tell you something: I do not want to see those dirty, stinking wind turbines littering our coastlines threatening the birds and our whales. I’m following a Facebook page now about Upper New Jersey, where whales are suddenly washing up on the beaches of New Jersey as they are building wind turbines. Has anyone looked at that? We’re going to have transmission lines carving out huge scars across the earth’s surface. We’re going to have massive lithium mines. It’s common but it’s a very rare commodity. There’s a one or two per cent content. Lithium, for example, might be found at one or two per cent. You’re going to have to mine 100 tonnes of ore to get one tonne of metal. On top of that, you have stripping ratios. You might have a stripping ratio of 10 to one. So, suddenly, from one tonne of ore you might have to mine a thousand tonnes of dirt. I don’t think that’s going to be very good for the environment—not at all. Again, in Senate estimates—I love this process—the great Larry Marshall, the former CEO of the CSIRO, said that it costs three times the amount to recycle a battery as it does to actually make it. Funnily enough, the CSIRO don’t actually include the cost of recycling in their GenCost report. Here’s that modelling again!
When it comes to the real world, we know that those on the other side of the chamber like to deal with feelings and with fantasies. It’s interesting, because one of the last things that happened under the last Labor government was that they commissioned an independent peer review of the Bureau of Meteorology. Do you know what they found? I’ll tell you what they found. They did not rate the observation practices of the Bureau of Meteorology as world class. Do you know what an observation practice includes? It is called taking the temperature—measuring the temperature. What did the Bureau of Meteorology do? They thought that if they couldn’t measure properly and accurately—because they had a margin of error of plus or minus half a degree Celsius, whereas the world standard for margin of error when you measure temperature is plus or minus 0.2 degrees Celsius—they’d start homogenising data. That’s a posh word for basically fiddling the books. As someone who was an accountant once upon a time, if I fiddled the books I’d go to jail.
I want to be careful about the bureau because they’ve got a climate division and a weather division. The guys in the weather division do what they should be doing, which is measuring and reporting the temperature and doing forecasting. Then you’ve got the climate division, which is effectively a euphemism for the fearmongering division. The climate division constantly comes up with these big doom and gloom forecasts. I think we heard Senator Whish-Wilson saying, ‘If we don’t act now it will be too late,’ and ‘The world is going to come to an end very soon, and if we don’t do something it’s all going to change.’
Let me tell you that it’s not going to change. Even without radiative forcing, the climate is always going to change because the earth spins on its axis every 24 hours, it rotates around the sun every 365 days and it’s slightly tilted to its orbit because of the gravity of the moon. We have Milankovitch cycles. Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler discovered in the early 1700s that the earth travels in an ellipse and not an orbit. That means that at certain times of the year the earth is going to be further from the sun than at other times. That creates weather volatility, people. This is life—absorb it and do not be afraid of it.
Yet what we have on the other side of the chamber is fearmongering. They use feelings and fearmongering rather than dealing with facts. And the facts of the matter are that renewables are going to have a terrible impact on our environment, our biodiversity, our birdlife and our marsupials—including the hairy-nosed wombat. I know how much Senator Hughes loves the hairy-nosed wombat because she talks about it all the time. We love our koala bears. Who can remember the great Austen Tayshus back in 1983: ‘How much can a koala bear?’
I’ll have to go soon, but when I do I will say to the Labor Party, ‘Put your money where your mouth is and back this motion.’