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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 10071


Mr CHEESEMAN (Corangamite) (14:15): My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Will the minister outline to the House the importance of the government's plan for a clean-energy future for our economy? How has been this received and what is the government's response?

Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:16): I would like to thank the member for Corangamite for his question. The clean-energy package of bills that were introduced by the government yesterday will responsibly transform our economy over time. They will establish an emissions trading scheme that will cut our pollution and generate large and ongoing investments in clean energy and in energy efficiency.

Our economy and our workforce will continue to grow while we are cutting pollution under the arrangements that the bills will put in place. By providing certainty for investors, in particular, over carbon pricing, the package will unleash a wave of investment in clean energy generation and clean technology innovation. Industry will invest to reduce the emissions intensity of their production processes, and many businesses are already planning that investment. That investment and improvement in emissions intensity of our businesses is critical to productivity growth in our economy over time and it is the keystone of future prosperity, because productivity growth is absolutely critical to the improvement of living standards in our society in the future.

The package also includes very important changes to the income tax system. It includes income tax cuts that are achieved by trebling the income-tax-free threshold. That measure will boost workforce participation because it generates incentives for people to work. This is an economic reform important to the country's future that has the double dividend of boosting productivity and improving workforce participation.

By contrast, pretty much all that we know about the position of the opposition is that they have brought forward a subsidies-for-polluters scheme that will cost Australian families and taxpayers $48 billion to 2020, or $1,300 per household per annum by 2020. The Leader of the Opposition had the opportunity today to explain his alternative policy, but all we heard was more personal invective, more negativity, more misrepresentation, more disinformation. The responsibility of leadership escapes the Leader of the Opposition. Under his leadership the coalition spends all its time conniving and deceiving for its own political benefit.

There is a useful insight into this today in the Australian Financial Review, where it is reported that the Leader of the Opposition's policy director—that would not be a very busy job in the Leader of the Opposition's office, it has to be said—connived with the New South Wales Premier, Barry O'Farrell, to publish completely deceitful material on the front page of the Daily Telegraph. What took place was a deliberate ploy to misrepresent the cost impact of a carbon price on public transport in New South Wales by no less than a factor of seven. It was completely overstated by a factor of seven. That is all that we get with the Leader of the Opposition: deceit, misrepresentation, negativity.

As the parliament debates these bills, I ask all of those of good conscience on the other side to consider the issues very carefully, because the government's package is very important for the future of our country, our economy and our society. I know there are many on that side who wish to support it. (Time expired)