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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 6118

Carbon Pricing

Mr SIDEBOTTOM (Braddon) (14:14): My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Will the minister outline the importance to Australian families and jobs of moving to a clean energy future? How has this been received and what is the government's response?

Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:15): I thank the member for Braddon for his question. Taking action on climate change now is very important for future generations. To mitigate the risk to our environment, our economy, and our society of the long-term effects of climate change, we have got to start the hard work of cutting pollution and driving investment in clean energy. As Australia is one of the most emissions intensive economies in the world, the task for us is more challenging than most other countries. That is why the government is pursuing a carbon price, because it is the lowest cost way for us to cut our pollution and, therefore, it is the lowest cost way of tackling climate change for Australian families and Australian industries.

The revenue from a carbon price can also be used to provide assistance to households and to support jobs in the most affected industries. Those measures to assist families and support jobs are a key feature of the government's approach—an approach that is well known to the opposition. But that does not deter the Leader of the Opposition from his fear campaign, a campaign full of exaggeration, misinformation and misrepresentation.

It is instructive to look at how extreme and shrill some of the Leader of the Opposition's statements have become. He stated, in the full knowledge of the government's commitment to assist pensioners and low- and middle-income households and that the price impacts will be modest, that 'the hit on Australians' cost of living is almost unimaginable'. He knows the government is committed to providing assistance to pensioners and low- and middle-income households, he knows the impact will be modest, but he misrepresents the position consistently.

He has claimed, in the full knowledge that the government will be providing assistance to support jobs in the most affected industries, that whole manufacturing industries will be wiped off the map, that towns will be wiped off the map.

Mr Chester interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Gippsland will leave the chamber for one hour under standing order 94(a).

The member for Gippsland then left the chamber.

Mr COMBET: The Leader of the Opposition knows that across the coal industry the price per tonne of coal is modest indeed. At an example of $20 per tonne carbon price, the impact on the price per tonne of coal mined for methane emissions is around $1.60 per tonne. This does not prevent the Leader of the Opposition going to the Minerals Council of Australia meeting a week or two ago and claiming it would be the death and destruction of the coal industry—ridiculous hyperbole, increasingly shrill.

It does not matter that the Productivity Commission does a report identifying 1,000 policies in the economies of seven of our trading partners; he still goes out and claims that Australia will be going it alone against the rest of the world—increasingly ridiculous claims. As we heard yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition in the past has strongly advocated that a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme is the best way to go. He said, 'If you want to put a price on carbon why not do it with a simple tax?' As a self-described weathervane, misrepresenting yourself as well as everyone else is now just a tool of the trade.