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50 SENATE Tuesday, 14 February 2017 big investments in transmission. Our peaks used to be in winter. We used to turn the electricity on a lot when we wanted to warm up. With the advent of affordable air conditioning—affordable for some—we now see our peaks come about in summer. Very hot days—associated of course with climate change—mean that more and more people are turning their air conditioners on to keep cool. The growth in rooftop storage has seen a further change. There is a dip in energy use in the afternoon as people generate their own power and then a surge in use in the early evening. Storage technology—batteries at the home, on a regional scale, on an industrial scale—will drive further changes. By 2020 the cost of some battery technologies are expected to fall by another 40 to 60 per cent. So we need to start to build an energy system that can accommodate all of these technologies that can cope with the high variability that we experience in our electricity demand. This is something that is simply not happening under this government because they lack the political will to deal with it seriously. They are interested only in playing political games with this issue, throwing red meat to the base of climate deniers in the coalition party room. What is needed of course is policy certainty. Witness after witness at the Senate Select Committee into the Resilience of Electricity Infrastructure in a Warming World hearing on Friday reinforced this perspective. The Energy Council, which represents coal and gas, wrote: We are already experiencing the consequences of energy policy paralysis for the past decade. It’s not pretty. The 'grid' as we know it is degrading in front of our eyes. And joint statements in recent days have been made by industry and consumer groups including the Australian Aluminium Council, the ACF, the Australian Industry Group and the cement industry calling on the government to deliver certainty. They are saying that the status quo of policy uncertainty, lack of coordination, and unreformed markets is increasing costs, undermining investment and worsening reliability risks. They went on to say we need mature, considered debate. We on this side are ready to have that debate. This is a complex problem and we need proper policy, not threeword slogans. Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (16:42): The most common question that I have heard when speaking to people in recent weeks is: why? Why would the Treasurer of this country stand up in question time holding a piece of coal and laugh about it, jeering the Labor Party—the opposition—saying, 'This is coal; it cannot hurt you.' Why are we even having this debate today in this place? Why, when this country suffered record heatwaves and extreme weather events that are literally off the charts? The Antarctic ice shelf is in collapse, why? That is the question, the most important question when nearly the entire world and most of our society in Australia accept that the big challenges of our time are tackling inequality and climate change. Why is the political class in this country the only people who do not get it? Senator Ian Macdonald: You people have been telling lies about it. Senator WHISH-WILSON: I know why you do not get it, Senator Macdonald. You are thick as two short planks and you have been here too long. That is why you do not get it. Let me tell you, you do not represent the average Australian. Why? I will tell you why. It is politics pure and simple. One of my favourite Australian authors, David Gregory Roberts, in his book Shantaram, said: The only thing more ruthless and cynical than the business of big politics— And we are in the business of big politics. is the politics of big business. And that is what this is about: the politics of big business—the donors to the Liberal Party, the coal industry. In case you missed it, the head of Glencore Australia today piped up making comments about our energy mix. This is big coal, big dirty fossil fuel companies reaching their hands into policy. That is why the Prime Minister has gone weak at the knees. That is why he has done a complete backflip on this. That is why we are having to fight a rearguard action to protect future generations. That is why the carbon price was ruthlessly and cynically ripped up by your government, Senator Macdonald, through you, Acting Deputy President Marshall: because of politics, because of what is good for the Liberal Party. That is what this is all about. This is not about what is good for the Australian people or for future generations of Australians or the thousands of bats that died of heat stroke in the recent heatwave—those awful riveting images that we have all seen. Those animals cannot run for parliament, sign petitions or go to protests. They need us to do something about this. This is not just an anthropocentric problem; this is much bigger than that, and we should never forget that. Senator Milne was going to leave an amazing legacy when she left this place, to be part of a leadership team that implemented the most important action against climate change of any country in the world. The day the carbon price got voted down, and there was ring-a-ring-a-roses and the Liberal Party were all giving themselves CHAMBER

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 SENATE 51 pats on the back, I saw how upset she was and followed her outside the chamber. It was a very emotional time for me, because I could see she was very upset. Her last work in parliament had just been torn up thanks to Tony Abbott's ruthless and cynical approach to getting votes. But she did say to me: 'Peter, I think we've already won. It's too late to turn back the tide of renewable energy. Too many people want it. It's too successful. I think we've already won.' What you are seeing from this weak Prime Minister and the self-interested Liberal Party is a rearguard action, but it is failing because the Australian people—in fact, the world—are turning their back on dirty energy and are trying to take action on climate change, and we have to play catch-up in this place. We have to put in place new policies that accelerate that and actually make a meaningful contribution to emissions reduction. Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (16:47): As someone who has just been described by the previous speaker as 'thick as two planks'—and perhaps I empathise with that— Senator McKim: He was being very generous. Senator IAN MACDONALD: I must say I am intimidated in this debate by a speaker of such high intellect— The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Marshall): Order! Senator Macdonald, if you would just resume your seat. Senator Whish-Wilson, on a point of order? Senator Whish-Wilson: I just want to correct the record. It is thick as two short planks, not two planks. The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: This is not the time for correcting the record; this is the time for taking points of order, if that is what you want to do, but I assume you do not. Senator IAN MACDONALD: As someone who has just been described by the previous speaker as 'thick as two short planks' I must say I am a little intimidated to enter this debate, particularly in the face of such a speaker of high eloquence, high intellect, high sophistication— Senator McKim: Hear, hear. Senator IAN MACDONALD: as the idiot we have just heard from. Senator McKim: You've just contradicted yourself. Senator IAN MACDONALD: In case Senator Whish-Wilson was living under a rock— The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Can I just ask all senators to consider the standing orders and the chamber which we are in? I know, Senator Macdonald, you have also been sorely provoked through this debate, but I just urge all senators— Senator IAN MACDONALD: Can I have another couple of minutes, please? Senator Whish-Wilson: No, you can't. The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The clock should have stopped. Senator IAN MACDONALD: It should have; it did not. Senator Whish-Wilson: I don't have enough handkerchiefs. The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I bring all senators to order. We will make a small adjustment to the clock. Senator IAN MACDONALD: Can I start again? As someone who has just been described by the previous speaker, Senator Whish-Wilson, as 'thick as two short planks' I must say I am a little intimidated to enter this debate after such a high-intellect presentation by the previous speaker, someone so sophisticated, so articulate as the person— Senator Whish-Wilson: Go on; say it. Senator IAN MACDONALD: Well, as the idiot who just spoke. In case Senator Whish-Wilson was living under a lettuce leaf at the time of the 2013 election, it was not Tony Abbott who voted down the carbon tax; it was the people of Australia, who voted for us in record numbers. That is what they thought of the Greens and the Labor Party and their combined policy of a carbon tax and the impact on Australia. Whilst the Greens care nothing for rising unemployment in Queensland or for small-business mum-and-dad operations who make their living out of mining support industries, I do. I care for the unemployed, I care for small business and I care for Queenslanders who will be put out of business by the cost of power. This is what the Australian people told us. It was not Tony Abbott; it was the people of Australia. We have had the Greens telling us the world is coming to an end if we have another coal-fired power station. Could I just tell you, as I always used to say to the Greens, whilst the Greens want to shut Australia down, around the world there are 216 coal-fired plants being built as we speak. In China there are 579 coal-fired power plants in operation and another 575 planned or under construction. In India, 49 high-efficiency low-emission coal-fired power stations are CHAMBER

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