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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 5848

Carbon Pricing


Ms LIVERMORE (Capricornia) (15:06): My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, representing the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. Will the minister inform the House about the support shown by scientists, businesses and other members of the community for the government's plan to introduce a price on carbon?


Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (15:07): I thank the member for her question. I am asked about support for an action plan to deal with dangerous climate change. The fact is that in a country which has a great scientific tradition, producing leaders across a range of disciplines, scientists have the opportunity to provide input to the important public debates that we have about policy. One of the most important of those debates is the debate around the best way to tackle dangerous climate change. Despite what the opposition would have us believe, the facts around climate change are clear—global warming is a reality; it is being caused by greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide; and the consequences of not acting are severe.

I want to highlight an open letter from some 46 members of Australia's scientific community outlining the case for urgent action and condemning those who wish to muddy the waters by relying on unsupported and unscientific views of climate change sceptics. That letter is titled 'Climate change is real'. The signatories to the letter, some of our leading scientists representing a range of scientific fields in Australia's leading universities, are together calling for an end—

Mr Secker: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am not sure what this has to do with the minister's portfolio of education. He has nothing whatsoever to do with this.

The SPEAKER: I can only assume that the member for Barker has the same difficulty that I have from time to time and cannot hear properly. The member for Capricornia referred her question to the minister as the Minister representing the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research in this place. I am sorry if the member for Barker was unable to hear that aspect of the question.

Mr GARRETT: These scientists call for an end to what they describe as the phoney public debate, and for an acceptance that 'climate change is real, we are causing it, and it is happening now'. The letter goes on to say:

A vast number of scientists, engineers and visionary businessmen are boldly designing a future based on low-impact energy pathways … a future in which substantial health gains can be achieved by eliminating fossil-fuel pollution …

That is a vision that this government shares and supports. We know that by putting a price on carbon that will be paid by those who emit the most pollution, by providing Australian families with the opportunity to adjust to that and also by supporting low-emission technologies into the future, we will be taking the most effective measures that we can to deal with dangerous climate change. It is not only science that is speaking; it is business as well. We have leading business figures consistently saying yes to a price on carbon. When Gail Kelly, one of Australia's leading businesswomen, was asked whether she said yes to a price on carbon, she answered, 'Yes'. Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas, said:

We can understand the logic on the carbon tax and why the government regards it as a necessity …

In an open letter to the Prime Minister last month, AGL, BP Solar, Conergy, Siemens and Snowy Hydro, amongst others, said:

A price on carbon … is widely recognised as being the most efficient and effective way of reducing emissions to meet this target.

Dr Jensen interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! I will have to go back to my study of Pavlov, but I forgot that the member for Tangney had a Pavlovian response to this minister as well. He was warned earlier in the day; he will leave the chamber for one hour under standing order 94(a).

The member for Tangney then left the chamber.

Mr GARRETT: The fact is that science and business are speaking together. The fact is the Liberals might not believe in climate change but they do believe in clawing back the support that will go to pensioners in this country as a consequence of our taking action on climate change. This is what is happening—the opposition leader, in a great tragedy of public debate in this country, refuses to acknowledge the legitimate point put by scientists that the most effective step we can take is to put a price on carbon and is willing to claw back the assistance that we will provide to pensioners at large.