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Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Page: 9928

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (17:46): I rise to support the substantive motion and the amendment to the amendment. What we have seen in the course of this debate is the government doing nothing more than showing a generosity of spirit and a willingness to show flexibility and to engage with the opposition in an attempt to have a good debate on this legislation and to engage with the community on this legislation. What we are seeing from the opposition is nothing more than a continuation of their mindless opposition and negativity.

This morning in the parliament we witnessed a historic moment. We witnessed the Prime Minister introduce into this parliament a package of legislation which comes at the end of one of the most extensive debates that has gripped this community in over a decade. Over 18 pieces of legislation form the CEF package, which will once and for all give the opportunity for this parliament to act on climate change and to act in a meaningful and positive way. This legislation will put a price on carbon, and we know that it is important to put a price on carbon because this is the most efficient and effective way for us to transform our economy and to ensure that we can reduce our dependence on carbon and transform our business processes.

But it is not only a package of legislation which puts a price on carbon; it is a package of legislation which assists households through that transformation process. It provides compensation to pensioners and households. It is a historic readjustment of our taxation system for wage and salary earners. The legislation introduced into the House this morning effectively means that over one million Australians will no longer have to put in a tax return because of the increase in the low-income tax threshold. It is a historic piece of legislation and what we are hearing from those opposite, in the context of an international race to modernise our economies, is that we should be handicapped, we should not move ahead to modernise our economy to ensure that we transform the economy in a way that gives us a low-carbon future.

We have a proposition today which enables this parliament to, in an orderly way, consider the package of legislation that comes after one of the most extensive debates that has gripped this parliament and the 42nd Parliament—a process which enables a joint select committee to, over the course of the next fortnight, consider and hear submissions in a detailed way on the legislation which is before the parliament and then report back and have an extensive debate here and in the Senate.

Those opposite oppose it because they are opposed to expertise, they are opposed to knowledge. They are opposed to economists, scientists and Public Servants. They are opposed to receiving any expert advice in this area. We say quite simply that they should get on board; they should get out of the way; they should stop their instinctive habit of just blocking, opposing, delaying, confusing and confounding. They should vote for this motion. They should get on board and vote for the package of legislation which will enable us to move forward.

You can contrast the approach that we are taking with the approach that they on the other side of the House have taken in the past with equally significant pieces of legislation. They rammed the GST legislation through the House without the capacity for debate. They rammed the Work Choices legislation through the House without the capacity for debate. We say that, when you contrast our approach to the approach that they have taken in the past, they are exposed as being nothing more than obstructionist and hypocrites in this matter. They should get out of the way. They should enable this legislation to be debated properly and they should support the motion before the House as amended.