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Thursday, 18 August 2011
Page: 8602

Carbon Pricing

Mr HUNT (Flinders) (14:55): My question is to the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister deny that her own modelling shows the government will spend $3½ billion on buying foreign carbon credits in 2020? Does the Prime Minister deny that her own modelling shows that this will rise to $57 billion in 2010 terms or almost 1½ per cent of GDP by 2050, to be paid to foreign carbon traders? Given emissions in Australia will barely change over that period, is this not just all economic pain without environmental gain?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:56): I thank the shadow minister for his question. Yes, the documents that go with our carbon pricing package, including the modelling, show that it is an internationally linked scheme—and, yes, to the shadow minister who asked the question, I understand he is in favour of an internationally linked scheme. He has been on the public record in favour of such a scheme. When he was on the public record in favour of such a scheme he was on the public record for exactly the right reason, because what the shadow minister said himself was that you have an internationally linked scheme so you get carbon abatement at the lowest possible cost. Absolutely right. So the shadow minister used to support an internationally linked scheme.

I understand it now appears to the opposition that it best suits their fear campaign to be out there saying, 'Ergh, shouldn't trade with foreigners!' I do not know whether they sit with Rio Tinto and say that we should not sell them resources or whether they sit with BHP and Rio Tinto and say, 'Let's not sell them coal or iron ore.' I do not know if they go to Toyota, Holden or any of those companies and say, 'Let's not export the cars that we make.' I do not know if they sit in the boardrooms of law firms—

Mr HUNT: Mr Speaker, a point of order on a simple question of relevance: the question asked whether or not there would be $3½ billion spent on foreign carbon permits in 2020 and $57 billion in 2050.

The SPEAKER: The member for Flinders will resume his seat. The Prime Minister is responding to the question.

Ms GILLARD: We are a great trading nation and I understand that the opposition now are engaged in a lot of populist nonsense. For example, we have seen them bring forward a bill which would take us outside of the global trading order with the consequence of retaliatory trade attacks. Somehow they are going to try and justify this to the Australian people. We know that, if we are outside the global rules based trading system and the subject of retaliatory attack, all that will mean is lost jobs for Australians. Now, in the climate change area, they are going down the same path. Yes, it is an internationally linked scheme, because that is the lowest cost abatement for the Australian economy and we want to make sure we transform our economy at the lowest cost. Because you have determined not to have an internationally linked scheme, your already excessively costly polluters subsidy policy has moved from a per household cost —

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Tangney is warned!

Ms GILLARD: of $720 a year to a per household cost of $1,300 a year. We will do it in the most economically responsible way. It really amazes me that they can get the shadow minister to get up and ask these questions. It just goes to show how now throughout the opposition they have all succumbed to the Leader of the Opposition's culture that you will do or say anything in order to try and get political advantage, even if you said directly the opposite thing yesterday. I refer to the shadow minister's statements at a press conference of 10 July 2011:

I’ll just make a brief point. Our emissions reduction fund is a very simple proposition. We will purchase the lowest cost abatement wherever it may occur …

In his National Press Club speech of 10 February 2010 he said:

… a tonne of carbon is a tonne of carbon. And that is all the planet knows.

That was said by the shadow minister. Never was a truer word spoken.