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Thursday, 13 October 2011
Page: 11856

Carbon Pricing

Mrs D'ATH (Petrie) (14:13): My question is to the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, representing the Treasurer. How will putting a price on carbon pollution reform Australia's economy, build our future prosperity and strengthen our international competitiveness?

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongAssistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation) (14:13): I would like to thank the member for Petrie for her question, because she understands, like all of the government do, that the clean energy legislation package will provide prosperity for this nation into the future. It will build our future prosperity. We on this side of the House wish to reduce carbon pollution for a clean energy future. We understand that business needs certainty and that the largest polluters should pay the price of their pollution. But, because we are a Labor government, we understand that families need a fair go and that certain industries will need help on the path of transition. That is why the package that was passed yesterday will target only the biggest polluters, while nine out of 10 households will be compensated, and it is how we will cut 160 million tonnes of carbon pollution by 2020.

In the great tradition of Labor, we understand that change in our economy is inevitable. From the 19th century of gold and farming through to the manufacturing story after World War II and now our growing and prosperous services economy, we understand that we cannot resist the future and that to turn our back on the future is selling our people short. We want to move into a low-pollution economy with good jobs, clean technologies, powerful innovation and a sustainable future. We will still be an agricultural producer with the changes we have made. We will still be a manufacturer with the changes we have made. And we will still be producing services, but we will not be a rapidly-expanding carbon producer.

The Labor government will help people through this change. Not only are we delivering reform but we will be assisting the workforces and families with reskilling and new training. We will make sure that people do not get left behind in the process of economic change. As former Prime Minister Paul Keating remarked on 11 July this year, the pricing mechanism is 'part of the Labor tradition of change, the Labor tradition of the adaptation of the economy'.

Unfortunately the opposition are stuck in the past. The Leader of the Opposition is a modern-day King Canute who would say that you can turn back the tide. There is no credible plan for the opposition to address climate change. They have the famously misnamed 'direct action plan'. Not a single economist supports it and it will rip away the significant tax cuts and pension increases which are delivered to people under our plan. Former Prime Minister Howard understood the need to be internationally competitive. He understood the importance of getting on with it now. He said at the Melbourne Press Club on 17 July 2007:

In the years to come it will provide a model for other nations to follow.

Being among the first movers on carbon trading in this region will bring new opportunities and we intend to grasp them.

The shadow Treasurer tried to rewrite this history on radio this morning, but he got caught out. We have a problem in this parliament; it is called the opposition. They are crippled by philosophical contradictions. Former Prime Minister Howard supported an ETS. Brendan Nelson supported an ETS. The member for Wentworth probably still supports an ETS. In fact, I suspect that nearly half of those opposite support an ETS, but they are not brave enough or they have been gagged from voting with their conscience. The real issue for our prosperity is you can lie to the people and say to them that you cannot change. Only the conservatives would have you believe you cannot change. We are clear: change is inevitable and we want to help our people move on with it. (Time expired)

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! Before calling the Ninja warrior from Hume, his having shown his support for a worthwhile cause, I ask him to remove his bandanna so I can give him the call. I notice that others are also supporting a worthwhile cause. I was worried that the member for Chifley had not done his colours, but I realise it is the member for Shortland's pink bandanna.