Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Opposition Whip) (19:17): I have to say that this agreement by the government to reduce methane output by 30 per cent—and I point out at this stage that 30 per cent of Australia’s methane emissions come from agriculture—just came from nowhere. We had no idea they were going to do it before the election, and they have no idea how we’re going to get there, how much it’s going to cost or who’s going to pay for it. It goes with a list that I’ve compiled of a number of other things we didn’t know about before the election, like giving New Zealanders the vote, or bringing back the foreign fighters—we didn’t know about that—or withdrawing recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, or bringing back pattern bargaining—we didn’t hear about that before the election—or the expansion of the area of workforce shortage for foreign-trained doctors to get them into the suburbs of our major cities, rather than preserving them for country areas, or the locking up of 30 per cent of Australia in parks and reserves, up from 20 per cent. We didn’t hear any of this stuff before the election. And then, of course, on top of that, now we get the 30 per cent reduction in cow belches and—flatulence, let me say.
It’s worth noting—I’ve done a few numbers on this—as we are pushing towards areas of dealing with climate change, that 200 nations at COP26 agreed to beef up their plans for CO2 reduction this year. Thus far, only 12 per cent have done so. When you hear the phrase ‘all the world is doing it’, all the world is about 12 per cent of the world’s population. There are about a billion people in the world who live in countries that are taking climate change and CO2 reduction seriously. The other six billion are going the other way. Otherwise we wouldn’t have record prices and record production for coal and gas. That’s a clear indication that all the world is not doing it. Around 12 per cent of the world are engaged seriously with reducing CO2, including Australia. Before the change of government, I might say, we did have a 23 per cent reduction on 2005 levels and would have achieved around 33 per cent.
There are some positives in this story. I know the government is hanging its hat on Asparagopsis taxiformis, the red seaweed. There is a lot of interest in my electorate, and there are companies there that are looking to produce it at the moment. There’s been a feedlot that has done some trial work on this very recently, HP Rural. We will see their produce on supermarket shelves around this week or next week in South Australia. It’s worth noting—
An honourable member: Algae?
Mr RAMSEY: It’s a seaweed. Anyway, a cow needs around 50 grams of this a day. That’s not much, but there are 28 million cattle in Australia. If you extrapolate that out, that’s about half a million tonnes a year. We know this seaweed is capable of reducing methane emissions. What we don’t know is whether it can be produced at scale or whether it can be produced at a price. What we also know is that it’s quite easy to administer this or give it to cattle in a feedlot situation, but at any given time only 4.6 per cent of Australia’s cattle are in a feedlot; the other 95.4 per cent are actually out grazing on rangeland. There is no known way that I’m aware of for delivering that feed supplement at this stage. I know the CSIRO are looking at trying to add it to water, but you’ve got to remember that it’s a solid. Whether or not it’s going to sit in water and actually disseminate itself amongst cattle is a real question.
The reason I bring this up is that people get so enthusiastic so far in front of the case. There’s nothing wrong with being enthusiastic, but in this case the government has actually made a decision which ties in Australia. What if Asparagopsis doesn’t work? Where are we left then? Are we left where New Zealand are, talking about a tax on prime production? When I talk about this optimism, it was only a few years ago that the whole of Australia was going to be running on hot rocks. I don’t know the last time you turned on your power point powered by hot rocks. (Time expired)