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Thursday, 24 March 2011
Page: 3210

Mrs MIRABELLA (2:44 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the statements from Toyota Australia that her carbon tax will potentially leave them in a corner with nowhere to go; from the Australian Food and Grocery Council, which wonders whether the government even wants food and grocery manufacturing in Australia; and from OneSteel, which has observed that the carbon tax will significantly disadvantage Australian manufacturers. Does the Prime Minister agree with these comments?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Indi for her question. She raises with me statements by Toyota. I have actually directly and personally consulted with Toyota on the question of carbon pricing. I did it yesterday, as it turns out. I know others were engaged elsewhere, but I was speaking to Toyota and, as I regularly do, to businesses: businesses around the country; businesses that trade in Australia; businesses that employ a lot of Australians. What businesses say to me is that they understand climate change is real. They accept the science that the Leader of the Opposition rejects. Of course, because they are businesspeople, they are always working out what is the lowest priced way of driving change. That is what gives them their competitive advantage as businesspeople. So they accept the advice of economists that the best way of tackling carbon pollution is to price carbon.

Then, of course, businesses want to be heard on this major public policy reform. They want to be heard on this major public policy reform in the way they have been heard on public policy reforms in the past when we have transformed our economy and adapted—

Mrs Mirabella —You are verballing them. It’s just not true. You are verballing them. You are not abusing them; you’re verballing them.

The SPEAKER —The member for Indi has asked her question.

Ms GILLARD —when they have looked to be engaged as tariffs went down, as we floated the dollar and as we drove Australia to its competitive, prosperous position today. They have wanted their voices to be heard, and of course their voices are being heard as the government goes about the work of designing the carbon-pricing mechanism.

As I have indicated to the House during the course of this week, the CEO of BlueScope is involved in our business roundtable. I spoke to Toyota yesterday; of course, they are directly engaged as well, putting their views forward. So I would suggest to the member for Indi that if she wants to come into this place and quote the views of Australian businesses then for completeness she should talk about the views of Australian businesses as a whole. I would say to her that Australian businesses are not in denial of the future. They understand that we need a clean-energy economy, they understand that this will take change and they understand—

Mrs Mirabella —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. The question was very simple. The Prime Minister was asked whether she agreed with these comments, not with any other comments which make broader discussion.

The SPEAKER —The member for Indi will resume her seat. The Prime Minister will respond to the question.

Ms GILLARD —Thank you very much. Responding to the latter part of the question, what I would say to the member for Indi is that we will work with Australian businesses as we go about pricing carbon. I would also say to the member for Indi that, if she wants to be fulsome and clear with these businesses when she is apparently having these discussions—or perhaps she is just taking statements from the media, but when she is discussing questions with businesses—she may want to indicate to them that she contested the 2007 election on Prime Minister Howard’s team. Prime Minister Howard went to that election promising the most comprehensive emissions trading system anywhere in the world. He went to that election informed by this report—

The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister should know that she needs to relate her remarks to the question.

Ms GILLARD —and he went to that election saying:

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

I would like to remind the member for Indi of that. She might want to reflect on that position of the 2007 election before she dedicates herself to spreading fear today.