Australian Notes

Australian notes

27 February 2021

9:00 AM

27 February 2021

9:00 AM


As you drive into our nation’s beef capital you are greeted by a statue of a bull emblazoned with the words ‘Welcome to Rockhampton’. In times past, first year university students would ritually cut its balls off. The council was rumoured to have a shed full of replacement testicles ready to restore the unlucky bullock’s manhood at a moment’s notice.

The beef industry has made Rockhampton, and is a source of town pride. We have some of the biggest saleyards in the country, our meatworks are the biggest private employer in town and every three years we hold one of the world’s best beef expos, Beef Week. Make sure you come and pay us a visit at Beef Week 2021 while you still can.

Because the net zero zealots are looking to cut the proverbials off our Beef Week and our industry. See, cattle have this unfortunate habit of burping and farting lots of methane, a gas we are told is more potent, in greenhouse gas terms, than carbon dioxide. Once you do all the sums Central Queensland’s beef herd is responsible for 7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, about the same as a typical coal-fired power station.

A recent NSW government report laid out the stark prospects for our nation’s cattle population, ‘Unless the numbers of production animals (females) are reduced, there is unlikely to be a real reduction in methane emissions.’

If the beef industry shrivels, there will be no more Beef Week. But lets think of the positives – we have been promised lots of ‘green jobs’.

Net zero emissions does not mean no emitting, or no sin. The ‘net’ in net zero does a lot of work. Net zero is simply a formalised system of modern indulgence payments. Want to go on a ski holiday to Aspen? No problem, just tick the ‘carbon offset’ box and new trees will be planted somewhere in rural Australia that you will never have to visit. Want to buy a new BMW X5 for the missus? We have you sorted. We can ‘net’ out your dirty habit by culling some cattle and growing soybeans instead.

To ‘net’ off all of our carbon emissions, Australia would need to plant at least 60 million hectares of new tree forests. That would mean reforesting an area 75 per cent the size of New South Wales.

That gives me an idea. We shouldn’t mourn the passing of Beef Week. We can create new expos celebrating the wonders of our new green industries. Tree Week 2050 will sure to be a smash hit with the locals. You can’t milk a pine cone, and trees don’t need preg testing, so we won’t have many local jobs. But we will have lots of time on the dole to explore our natural wonderland.

And then we can aim for Tofu Week 2060! Timed to celebrate China’s promised reaching of its net zero target. Sure some will miss the T-Bones at the Criterion Hotel but it will be gone by then anyway. Renamed ‘The Green Lantern’, the Cri will have by then embarked on a brave new future under the slogan ‘the best tofu steaks north of Gympie’.

But we won’t reach net zero through forests and soybeans alone. We will also have fantastic new green jobs in solar and wind. Sure all of the panels and turbines are made in China. How do they make so much stuff while still promising to reach net zero is a question best not asked. And where the city-guilt forests have not taken over grazing land, the solar and wind farms will finish the job.

A recent European study found that if the Netherlands were to convert their electricity to wind and solar they would need to blanket an area nearly two times the size of their country. Using the same calculations for Australia would see an area double the size of our irrigated farming land taken up with wind and solar farms.

So to sum up: in 30 years time, at best, we will end up producing the same amount of electricity as today (at least when the weather suits) but much less agricultural output, not to mention the impact of net zero policies on our mining and manufacturing industries.

Net zero emissions is a policy to make us poorer because we will produce less. It is the wrong policy for a country that has just racked up the biggest debt since the second world war. We cannot afford to produce less as we owe more.

Net zero is not zero emissions, it is zero jobs for rural Australia. It is a get-out clause for the guilt-ridden city- based greens who have realised that they can’t conveniently reduce their climate sins but they can conveniently offload that shame to places where they will never see the devastation.

If we shut down our rural industries to pay tribute to the climate gods, it will be the country-based small businesses and workers that will feel the pain. The farmers will likely receive the indulgence payment and find something else to do. But there will be no carbon credits for the Yamaha dealership owner. The former washed-up, hard-working jackaroo won’t get a renewable energy credit and he won’t find a job coding when he has to compete with Indian maths students at half his wage.

Instead, entire communities will be emasculated of the industries that gave them pride and purpose. Perhaps we might need a new shed to store all of our testicles as we won’t have any use for them anymore.

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