Take Note: Net Zero & Jobs

 In Environment & Energy, Parliament, rural, Senate Speeches

Senator RENNICK (Queensland) (15:17, 21 June 2021): What a time to be alive! Never before have the forces between darkness and evil been more clear than here today. What we’ve had here today is nothing but a vile session of putrid, personal smears—a fantasy target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Senator Watt has the audacity to come in here and talk about regional Queensland and somehow blame the Nationals for everything that’s gone wrong in regional Queensland. Let me tell you something, Acting Madam Deputy President, state Labor is responsible for the destruction of—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Rennick, resume your seat, please. Senator McCarthy?

Senator McCarthy: Point of order: you are the Deputy President.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator McCarthy. Senator Rennick, I was allowing you in the full spirit of things to let yourself go.

Senator RENNICK: Apologies. Where do we start when it comes to regional Queensland? What we have here is a state Labor government who privatised nearly all of the assets that the state government owned, including Queensland Rail, Golden Casket, Forestry Plantations and the Port of Brisbane. They sold the Port of Brisbane—six times earnings, a monopoly—a 99-year lease. And they wonder why the state of Queensland is going broke.

I will tell you what our policy is, by the way, when it comes to energy: it is cheap and reliable energy that is going to create jobs in the manufacturing sector—not in the imports, not in the cost sector, creating energy; no. We had the world’s cheapest energy from the world’s best coal when Labor came to power in 1990. But that has all been destroyed thanks to the mismanagement of the Queensland Labor government and the fact that they now subsidise foreign companies to come to Queensland and generate renewable energy. Queensland coal-fired power stations and gas power stations have the potential to generate 13 gigawatts of energy a day. The most Queensland has ever used is nine gigawatts. In order to meet their 50 per cent target, they are going to add another 20 gigawatts of renewable energy, despite the fact that they don’t need it, because we already have sufficient supply to meet demand. They will drive Queensland owned energy companies—the last thing the Queensland Labor government didn’t sell—into the ground. Last year the Queensland energy companies lost $1½ billion because they had to get turned off all the time, while the foreign owned renewable companies had the opportunity to make money. The other thing is that, with all this wonderful talk about net zero 2050, blah, blah, those who are doing the heavy lifting in this country when it comes to reducing emissions are our farmers, with their reductions in land use.

I just want to quote some figures here on how much money is being invested in reducing carbon emissions across Australia. In New South Wales, there’s $630 million being invested in reducing carbon emissions; in Victoria, a measly $15 million; in the ACT, nothing; in WA, $109 million; and, in the Northern Territory, $38 million. But, in Queensland, there’s $886 million being invested in buying back land, locking up land, agricultural land, in order to reduce carbon emissions. And do you know where the bulk of that is? It’s on my turf, the Darling Downs in the south-west, where it’s $523 million. That’s almost as much as the entire amount in New South Wales and more than the rest of the states combined. This is typical. Labor love to talk the talk, but they never walk the walk. When are all these inner-city people who want to reduce emissions going to start riding their pushbikes to work, stop taking aeroplane flights and turn their air conditioning off, rather than pushing farmers in south-west Queensland out of jobs? When are they going to start walking the walk for a change, instead of dictating to everyone else what should happen?

As for meeting 2050 targets, why should this country be subservient to other nations? We remember well, during the Hawke-Keating government, when Hawke took the states to the High Court in 1983 to block the building of the Franklin Dam. Had that dam been built, that would have been carbon-free energy. You know what Tasmania did for the rest of the eighties? They voted against Labor. Do you know how Tasmania’s going now, since they have allowed more dams and weirs to be built? They’re the second strongest economy in the country, thanks to the building of dams. But do we see that in Queensland? No, we don’t. What’s the state government doing? They’re ripping down our own dams. They’re ripping down Paradise Dam. That’s a carbon-free source of energy if they put a generator on the end of it—but no, no, no. They’re happy to pull down Australian made, Australian owned clean energy and then pay foreigners to produce energy that, after all, isn’t all that clean because it’s come from solar panels and batteries and wind turbines that can’t be recycled.

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