Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 2860

Carbon Pricing


Senator McGAURAN (Victoria) (14:33): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Sherry. Minister, knowing that you always prepare well for question time, I refer you to the Minister for Resources and Energy's comments yesterday that the carbon tax could cause some coalmines to close. Will the minister inform the Senate on what basis the minister's comments were made?


Senator SHERRY (TasmaniaMinister Assisting on Deregulation and Public Sector Superannuation, Minister for Small Business and Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism) (14:33): Thank you, indeed, for the compliment, Senator McGauran. It may be your last question and I want to compliment you—

Senator Carr: On surviving this long!

Senator SHERRY: I do want to compliment you on your longevity in this place; and all the best to you, if indeed it is your last question. In terms of the coalmining sector, the real threat to the competitive position of the Australian economy does not come from the government's carbon price policy. It comes from you, Senator McGauran—through you, Mr President—or, I should say, from the opposition that you of course represent. The abandonment—

Senator Carr: When you were in the National Party.

Senator SHERRY: Well, yes. I am not going to go there; I am not going to be unkind to Senator McGauran.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Sherry, just come to the question, please.

Senator SHERRY: I am not going to be unkind. The abandonment—

Senator Carr: He ought to get credit for propping up the DLP!

Senator SHERRY: Senator Carr, please!

Senator Carr: Come on, Dolly, tell us about the DLP!

The PRESIDENT: Order! Resume your seat, Senator Sherry.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Mr President, I raise a point of order on the attitude of one of the people over there who masquerades as a minister. This week, in the final weeks of several senators from all sides, everyone has been absolutely gracious except that thug who represents the Left in Victoria, and I ask you to bring him to order.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Macdonald, there is no point of order. The minister has a one minute 14 remaining to address the question. I draw the minister's attention to the question.

Senator SHERRY: In this week when we are reflecting on the contributions of senators who depart, I agree with Senator Macdonald. I am trying my very best in this final twilight of Senator McGauran's career in this place to get to an answer. I am just being so rudely interrupted.

It comes from the opposition's abandonment of the fundamental belief in markets and rational economics and the opposition leader, Mr Abbott's, embrace of totally irresponsible and politically opportune fearmongering. That is what we are seeing. In order to support jobs and compete in the next century, a century which will increasingly be—

Senator McGauran: Mr President, I rise on a point of order. I rarely take points of order; in all the time I have been here I have taken only two or three points of order, Senator Sherry. I did compliment you and say that you were always well prepared for question time, so I bring you back to the question: on what basis did the Minister for Resources and Energy, Mr Ferguson, whom you represent here, make those comments? You have 29 seconds to answer that question.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. The minister has 29 seconds remaining. I draw your attention to the question, Minister.

Senator SHERRY: The government and my colleague Minister Ferguson do recognise that the coal industry is a very important and vital part of our economy. We have always said that every cent raised from a carbon price will be used to assist households, support jobs and make the transition to a clean energy future. That is why we are consulting very closely with the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee on assistance measures for coalmining operations. My colleague Minister Ferguson has made that very clear. (Time expired)


















Senator McGAURAN (Victoria) (14:38): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question.

Senator Conroy: There is a blacksmith shop going cheaply in Ballarat.

The PRESIDENT: Order, on my right! Senator McGauran is entitled to be heard in silence.

Senator McGAURAN: And the DLP hate the Labor Party. That's why I kept them going.

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator McGauran, ignore the interjections on my right.

Senator Sherry: Mr President, how can that possibly be a supplementary question?

The PRESIDENT: Senator Sherry, there is no point of order. Senator McGauran, you have a supplementary question. I am giving you the opportunity now to ask that supplementary question.

Senator McGAURAN: That interjection by me was a bit outrageous. I will ask my supplementary question. Minister, it defies belief that such a good minister as yourself would not have spoken to Mr Ferguson about his comments. I ask with some confidence: was the Minister for Resources and Energy's admission that mines may close based on modelling? If so, what modelling?









Senator SHERRY (TasmaniaMinister Assisting on Deregulation and Public Sector Superannuation, Minister for Small Business and Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism) (14:39): There was a survey commissioned by the Australian Coal Association that assumes that no assistance will be provided to the coal industry. This is inaccurate. The government recognises that the coal industry is a vital part of our economy. It is a particularly vital part of our economy. The vast majority of Australia's coalmining industry is not emissions intensive and will face materially increased costs under a carbon price. As to the DLP, I cannot go to that issue, clearly.

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator SHERRY: Well, if you ask a question—

Senator Brandis: I rise on a point of order on relevance, Mr President. The question was about modelling and whether the statement was based on modelling and if so what it was. The minister has not got anywhere near it, and you know that.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Sherry, I draw your attention to the fact that there are 18 seconds remaining to answer the question.

Senator SHERRY: I make the point that if you ask a question then I am here to try to answer it. I cannot answer the first supplementary question that you originally posed. On the modelling issue, I do not know whether or not there has been any modelling done, so I will take it on notice.






Senator McGAURAN (Victoria) (14:41): You are becoming a great disappointment, Senator Sherry.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McGauran, get to your question please.

Senator McGAURAN: Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question more in hope than in confidence that the minister is across some part of this brief. To which mines was the Minister for Resources and Energy referring when he talked about mines closing?




Senator SHERRY (TasmaniaMinister Assisting on Deregulation and Public Sector Superannuation, Minister for Small Business and Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism) (14:41): I am sorry I am disappoint­ing you in your second last week, Senator McGauran.

Senator Forshaw: No, you're not.

Senator SHERRY: I am sorry. Senator McGauran and I have always had a good relationship.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Sherry, just answer the question and leave the other material out. Senator Sherry, continue. You have 54 seconds remaining to answer the question.

Senator SHERRY: We have had a good relationship, and I would hate to disappoint him on this occasion. We are closely consulting with the coal industry—

An opposition senator: Which mines?

The PRESIDENT: Senator Sherry, ignore the interjection. You have 46 seconds remaining to answer the question.

Senator SHERRY: I was trying to answer, but I keep getting these interjections. We are consulting with the coal industry closely on measures for affected coalmining operations and remain committed to—

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Keep going, Senator Sherry. I am listening closely to your answer.

Senator SHERRY: We do remain committed to assuring the competitiveness of our mining sector, including the coalmining sector. I do not have any advice to hand as to any particular mining operation. I hate to disappoint Senator McGauran, but I will have to take that on notice.

Senator McGauran: I will give you my postal address.