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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 6119

Carbon Pricing

Mrs GASH (Gilmore) (14:20): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the comments by the former member for Throsby and ACTU president Jennie George who has joined the head of the Australian Workers Union, Paul Howes, in calling for steel to be exempted from a carbon tax. Prime Minister, is not Jennie George right when she states that 'there is no compensation for a job that is lost'?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:21): I thank the member for Gilmore for her question. I did see those statements by Jennie George. I believe that they were published yesterday. Of course, Jennie George was a great member of this place and someone who had devoted her life to representing working people, starting her life in the teachers union and then moving to the ACTU. When you look at Jennie George's letter, she was pointing to the circumstances of the steel industry. I certainly understand that the steel industry is under a great deal of pressure. It is under a great deal of pressure because of the transformation that we are seeing in the Australian economy. It is a transformation—with mineral prices and the resources industry where they are now and the growth that that industry is experiencing, the terms of trade that we see now, our dollar at a very high level and that level being sustained—that is putting pressure on industries like the steel industry. The pressure is on their shoulders right now; that pressure was on their shoulders last year. This is pressure on the steel industry as a result of the economic transformation in our economy. Of course we are concerned about these circumstances and have been having discussions and working with the steel industry on its future.

Mr Hartsuyker interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Cowper is warned!

Ms GILLARD: I also understand, as we move to pricing carbon, that we will need to keep working with the steel industry. We want to see people having jobs in steel, and we will keep working productively with the steel industry as we design the carbon pricing scheme. The member for Gilmore has tried through the phrasing of her question to get some sense of division into it. If the member for Gilmore is concerned about questions of division she may want to direct her attention to another report yesterday, a report of a senior Liberal in the Sydney Morning Herald who said:

You can't take money away from pensioners, it would kill us.

The member for Gilmore might like to express her view on clawing money back from Australian pensioners—

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The House should reflect on the combative nature of question time today. It has been characterised by people not even sitting quietly when their own side is trying to get the call. I find that amazing. If the House were to reflect on this, it would understand that those outside expect better from all of us—and I am conscious that that includes me. I call the Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister is ranging a very long way from the question she was asked. If she has run out of material, you should direct her to take a seat.

The SPEAKER: Again I indicate to the Manager of Opposition Business that he should contain himself to his point of order and not add argument that really does not assist him. The Prime Minister is straying from the question and she must indicate in her response how the material that she is using is directly relevant to the question.

Ms GILLARD: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The member for Gilmore has asked me a question about the steel industry and job security and carbon pricing. At the end of the day, when we deal with carbon pricing and we deal with jobs for Australian workers, we have to come back to first principles about what will create the most prosperous clean energy economy we can have in the future. We on this side of the parliament believe as we create a clean energy economy that polluters should pay, not Australian families. We believe that money should go to support Australian families; you believe in taking it away from Australian families. We believe in protecting Australian jobs and seeing a future of prosperity with a clean energy economy; the Liberal Party has never believed in protecting Australian jobs. You cannot have concern about job security and be a supporter of Work Choices.

The choices here are simple—we want to cut carbon pollution; you would see it rise. We want polluters to pay; you would see families pay. We want to give money to Australian families; you want to take it from them. We want to protect Australian jobs; you have never shown the slightest concern for job security. The member for Gilmore might want to reflect on that when she considers the future for Australian workers.