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Thursday, 20 September 2012
Page: 11465


Mr DREYFUS (IsaacsCabinet Secretary, Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Parliamentary Secretary for Industry and Innovation) (16:09): It is with great pleasure that I rise to speak on this matter, because the state of the Australian economy, our prosperity, fairness and equity are of the greatest importance to the Gillard Labor government.

What we have heard today so far from the coalition—from the member for Flinders and the member for Gippsland—is yet more of the campaign of negativity that we have heard from the Leader of the Opposition and more of the backward views that we have come to expect from the coalition, more of their shameless deceit and more of the false claims that they have repeatedly made since we announced the carbon price package in July last year. And it is a campaign which is running out of puff.

We have an opposition which continues to talk down our economy. We have an opposition which continues to misrepresent the state of our economy. We have a coalition that pretends that it cares about climate change while fighting against real action.

It is important that members opposite realise a few facts about the actual state of the Australian economy. Under our government the Australian economy continues to out-perform other advanced economies. As the Treasurer said in question time today, the economy has grown by 11 per cent since the start of 2008—that is, since Labor has been in government. And that is despite the global financial crisis that our country and the rest of the world has been enduring. The reason that the Australian economy continues to out-perform other advanced economies is Labor's investments in skills, infrastructure, education and research—all of which support economic growth in the long term. And the economy has continued to grow because we acted to stimulate the economy at the right time.

Of course too many Australians are finding it hard to make ends meet, but that is why we—Labor—continue to manage the economy in the interests of working people. That is why we cut taxes for low income earners by raising the tax-free threshold. That is why we invest in better health care. That is why we invest in dental reform. That is why we invest in education and training.

Let's remember: the opposition leader claimed that price rises would be unimaginable. Over and over again we were told, over the last year, that price rises would be unimaginable. We were told that the carbon price would be a wrecking ball through the Australian economy. We were told by the Leader of the Opposition, by the member for Flinders, by the member for Indy and so many of those opposite that it would destroy jobs. And none of those claims is true.

Those opposite like to say that we are acting ahead of the world. This is another thing that we need to be clear about. The world is acting. Ninety countries, representing 90 per cent of the global economy, have committed to reduce their carbon pollution and have policies in place already to achieve those reductions. And many of those countries are relying on a market based mechanism.

I know that those opposite do not like to hear this but those countries which are relying on a market based mechanism know, as our government knows, that a carbon price is the most effective way to reduce emissions—and more efficient than other, direct subsidy policies. That is why by next year 850 million people will be living in countries, states or cities with emissions trading systems. That includes countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Carbon trading is already operating at a subnational level in the United States, at a subnational level in Canada and at a subnational level in Brazil. And there is growing momentum to introduce carbon trading around the world. California will commence emissions trading next year. China is developing pilot emissions trading schemes in seven cities and provinces, which will also commence next year. And Korea's emissions trading scheme—a legislated emissions trading scheme—will commence in 2015.

The delusional approach taken by those opposite—they have nailed their colours to the mast here—is that nothing is happening in the rest of the world. That means that every time a new country acts—or a place like California legislates to commence an emissions trading scheme on 1 January next year, or Korea legislates to commence its emissions trading scheme in 2015—we get denial from those opposite. They do not want to own up to what is happening in the world. They do not want to approach this.

Mr Tudge interjecting

Mr DREYFUS: I would have expected better from the member for Aston because he has some economics training. I would have expected him to be able to read what the OECD and the IMF say about this, and what all countries that have already introduced the emissions trading scheme are saying—they know that it is the least cost, most efficient means of reducing carbon pollution. Countries like Turkey, South Africa, Thailand and Chile are also working to develop carbon pricing schemes, and in fact 94 per cent of OECD countries—

Mr Hunt interjecting

Mr Tudge interjecting

Mr DREYFUS: I know this is hard for those opposite to grapple with—94 per cent of OECD members have, or are implementing, emissions trading at the national or sub-national level.

It is not surprising that those opposite disregard these facts, as they so often do. The Leader of the Opposition who thinks that climate change is crap. He likes to pay lip-service—

Mr Tudge: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. That was unparliamentary language that the minister just used, and I ask him to withdraw it.

Mr DREYFUS: I will not withdraw it because I was directly quoting from the Leader of the Opposition, who said—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Rishworth ): I am going to call the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

Mr DREYFUS: Those opposite know what the Leader of the Opposition said. They are embarrassed by it. They should be embarrassed by it. It is still the case that, despite his attitudes, the Leader of the Opposition is paying lip-service to taking action on climate change. We have got him paying lip-service to quite a few things, but we know what he really thinks.

The other deceitful claims that they continue to make we heard again today from the member for Flinders and from the member for Gippsland. We only have to look at the most recent Reserve Bank of Australia minutes, released this week, to see that the Leader of the Opposition's campaign of negativity on prices is baseless. I am going to quote directly—just as I was quoting directly from the Leader of the Opposition—from the RBA minutes. They said:

… the introduction of the carbon price had not yet had a significant effect on downstream price pressures, with only isolated examples of suppliers attributing price increases to the carbon price. There was no evidence—

I will repeat that: 'there was no evidence'—

that the carbon price had raised medium-term inflation expectations.

That was the Reserve Bank of Australia on the price impacts.

On jobs, this is something that those opposite like to point to. What hypocrisy from this opposition, an opposition which has remained mute, struck dumb, by the massive cuts that have been occurring in the state of Queensland. It is good that there are members opposite from Queensland here to listen to this. Australians now know that the biggest risk to their jobs is the election of a Liberal government, as the Queensland state Liberals have shown. How those opposite can bring themselves to pretend that they care about jobs when they welcome the destructive cuts that we have seen in the state of Queensland, the destructive cuts they have seen from their Liberal colleagues, is beyond me.

The Leader of the Opposition's Mini-Me, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, told Australians before his budget that he had discussed with the Leader of the Opposition the details of the cuts he was proposing to make and that the Leader of the Opposition enthusiastically supported him on those cuts. Of course, he has gone ahead and made those cuts, so we know, and all other Australians know, exactly what we are going to get if there is ever—perish the thought—a Liberal federal government. Just like the cuts that we have seen from Premier Newman in sacking nurses, sacking teachers and sacking police, a federal Liberal government would sack public servants in vast numbers, gutting services and communities. We know they would do it and they would relish it, because that is what Liberal governments do. They would like nothing more than to get back into government and get right into cutting the pay and conditions of Australian working people. (Time expired)

Mr Tudge: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Under section 92(a)(ii) of the standing orders, it says:

The Speaker can intervene:

… … …

   (ii) when a Member’s conduct is considered offensive …

Some of the remarks, that the parliamentary secretary thinks that we would take great joy and pride in sacking people, I do think are offensive.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Other Deputy Speakers in this place have made the point that when referring to groups there is a broader shoulder to rely on. I call the member for Wright.