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Monday, 4 July 2011
Page: 7319

Carbon Pricing

Mr CHEESEMAN (Corangamite) (14:16): My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Will the minister update the House on recent developments on the government's plan to put a price on pollution? How has this been received and what is the government's response?

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! Before calling the minister, every question today has been greeted by comment by nearly everybody on my left. I think it is about time, if they want question time taken seriously by everybody, that they should at least sit there in relative silence.

Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:17): I thank the member for Corangamite for his question. Of course, as the House has heard today and as the Prime Minister made clear yesterday, petrol will be exempt from the government's carbon price. What that means is that families, trades­people and small businesses with light commercial vehicles will not face a petrol price rise as a result of the introduction of a carbon price. That is a very important commitment that runs completely contrary to the scare campaign that the Leader of the Opposition has been running for month after month after month.

The Leader of the Opposition has had a number of things to say in the scare campaign. He said on one occasion that the impact on the cost of living would be unimaginable. He has repeatedly said that the carbon price will put 6½c a litre on the price of petrol just for starters. For week after week after week, the Leader of the Oppos­ition has gone out and completely misrep­resented this position to the Australian community. It is time to own up to it and time to apologise. He has claimed more than 20 times that the cost of petrol will go up. He is wrong today, he was wrong then and he should apologise to the community for his deliberate misrepresentation.

A scare campaign is always fuelled by misrepresentation and misinformation and it can never ever stand up to the facts. That is why, as the government finalises more details of our plans to put a price on carbon pollution, the Leader of the Opposition will get more and more hysterical. Chicken Little is going to get more and more shrill as all of his misrepresentation is revealed for what it is—a scare campaign.

On this front, last Friday there was quite an extraordinary outburst at economists. It was essentially: what would leading econo­mists in Australia know about economics compared to the Leader of the Opposition? That was an extraordinary attack on economists in this country for indicating what is widely held and understood—that is, a market mechanism for pricing carbon is the most efficient way of reducing pollution across our economy. He does not like economists, does not like scientists and takes his scientific advice from the One Nation website. This is a completely disreputable campaign that has been run by the Leader of the Opposition.

In the face of all this, the challenge that climate change represents for our country, the Leader of the Opposition is content to see pollution rise and continue to add to the problem that we have. He rejects market mechanisms as efficient ways to reduce pollution across our economy. He will slug the budget instead with the subsidies-for-polluters policy. It will cost $30 billion—

Dr Jensen interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Tangney is warned.

Mr COMBET: to 2020. It is going to cost $720 per household for the subsidies-for-polluters policy. The Leader of the Opposition is committed to claw back the pension increases, take back the tax cuts, claw back the benefits for families. He is going to take them all back by repealing the carbon price legislation. Our country faces a serious significant challenge with the threat of climate change. As a political figure in this country, it is hard to imagine a more irresponsible misrepresentative campaign than that that has been conducted by the Leader of the Opposition over recent months and in coming days it will be exposed. (Time expired)