From Hansard:
Mr Oakshott: Yesterday was a significant step forward. We finally have on the record both party leaders in this chamber in a bipartisan way expressing full confidence in the science community of Australia and their accepted advice on man-made climate change. At times it has been like pulling teeth—and I fully respect that, within the ranks of both major parties there are differing views—but it is important, if we are going to establish certainty for the future of policy and an economic debate that hangs off those foundations of acceptance of the very best advice from the very best scientists in this country, that this House, regardless of who has the government benches, accepts with confidence the advice that man-made climate change is real.
Both party leaders yesterday confirmed their belief in man-made climate change science. But I do raise with some hesitation some taunts that were made during events of yesterday from colleagues around me. When I did raise the opportunity for both leaders to answer the question around the science, two different members threw up the words, 'Ask us when we are in government!' and 'Wait and see when we are in government!' I hope that is not the position held by colleagues in this chamber. I hope that everyone is being fair dinkum about their belief in the science and the science community, their agreements around the minimum targets that have been agreed upon by 2020 and that everyone is being fair dinkum about the different views on economic responses that are coming forward.
Personally, I am sick of public servants and science being picked on, denied and accused, often when they are not in positions to defend themselves—and all for political expediency. Most, if not all, the people in the science community are lifelong committed scientists doing the very best they can in the most objective way they can and falling wherever the facts and the evidence take them. It is not the role of any of us to accuse them of cons or conspiracies but to accept the advice from the vast majority of scientists—the very best we have in the field—and to listen to it, so that when they say, 'Australia, we have a problem,' we should listen very closely to that and then respond.
In my view, we have spent way too much time pretending that the science of climate change is in dispute. We have spent way too much time pretending that the science of climate change is not bipartisan. As we saw clearly in this chamber yesterday in the middle of question time, the Prime Minister and the alternate Prime Minister reached bipartisan agreement on the climate science. By all means, we are going to have a wrestle over economic policy and the response, but there is bipartisanship on the science itself.
So, for anyone wanting to vote sceptically at the ballot box in four months time, I think there is only one option, and that would be the party of my friend next to me—if he were here, my imaginary friend—Bob Katter's Australia Party...
It is wrong to accuse scientists, including a former Australian of the Year only five years ago, of being con artists and wrapped up in some global conspiracy. It is wrong. That should not be Australia in 2013. By all means, argue the toss over policy but, when we go the man, when we go the personality, that is a step too far.
Again I see sneering from the front bench from senior shadow ministers—shaking their heads at a very simple point being made obviously cuts deep.
Opposition members interjecting
Mr OAKESHOTT: You can whisper it all you like but, in the end you are going to be asked to vote in confidence for the science of man-made climate change. I would ask you all to consider your positions.
Opposition members interjecting
Mr OAKESHOTT: Again we have further interjections. This should be a fairly simple point that should not have to be made in this chamber. But it is obviously cutting deep into the heart of a position that is being taken to the ballot box—to 'repeal the carbon tax' without telling the full story. That is not a repeal policy, it is a replacement policy. It is a replacement of something that is going to cost taxpayers more.
A true liberal believes in markets. A shadow minister for the environment would arguably believe in markets. We can get into the economics of that on the back of this debate, but we are talking now about the science and seeing who votes where, who abstains, who has the courage of their convictions—if they have run around electorates saying that this is all a global conspiracy—and seeing how closely linked they are to talkback radio hosts and to billionaires who are sceptical. Let us see how people vote and whether they trust the advice that has been given to them from the vast majority of the very best scientists in Australia...
So here is the test—I do not need the full time—we either vote for it or vote against it. We can hear about all this carbon tax repeal stuff without talking about a replacement plan all you like. But, in the end, the test of this vote is nothing beyond whether you confirm, with confidence from this House, that the science community is right: that Australia has a problem. Let us see where the bums land, from all members of parliament, in support of the very best advice in the science community. Let us stop picking on them, accusing them of being part of a global conspiracy and being part of a con. The advice is real and the question for the House today is whether or not we accept it.