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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 6132

Carbon Pricing


Mr RANDALL (Canning) (15:22): My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to comments by garage door manufacturer Mr Geoff Didier, whom the Leader of the Opposition visited today, that a carbon tax would force him to pass on the higher costs of his steel roller doors to customers or cut jobs in his business. Why is the government determined to introduce a new tax that will put steel manufacturers out of business and simply export our emissions to less efficient producers of steel overseas?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (15:23): I thank the member for his question. We know from the Productivity Commission report that putting a price on carbon is the least cost, most effective way to put that price in place. Of course, those opposite have an entirely different approach. They want to give subsidies to polluters, jacking up taxes for everybody and providing no assistance to households whatsoever.

These types of questions will continue as the opposition runs its baseless scare campaign, as it will all the way through, but this government will not be deterred from putting in place a price on carbon. A price on carbon is absolutely essential for future growth in our economy. We know from the modelling that we can substantially reduce carbon pollution and still have strong economic growth, still have strong income growth and still have strong jobs growth. We know that the cost of not acting is far higher than the cost of acting. Those opposite are proposing that we delay for longer, and all that will mean is that harsher action will be required, with an impact on businesses later on.

We as an economy have to make the transition. If we wish to be a first-rate, First World economy that generates prosperity and that generates jobs, then we have to invest in and drive a clean energy economy. We need to send the signal for investment into clean energy. I know that is not understood by those opposite. It used to be understood by some, but it is not understood by the deniers that are now running the modern Liberal Party and the turncoats that have joined them—the turncoat over there, the shadow Treasurer. I did not get to give the rest of the quote from the shadow Treasurer before, but this is what the shadow Treasurer had to say only last year—

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: we take great offence at the term that this minister in particular—the fellow student from Nambour High—has used to describe the opposition. I ask him to withdraw it and, while he is doing it, to withdraw the knife from Kevin Rudd's back.

The SPEAKER: For getting that on the record there has to be a price. The member for Sturt will leave the chamber for one hour under 94(a).

The member for Sturt then left the chamber.

Mr Andrews interjecting

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Menzies should not be too nervous. It is not the green bottles falling off the wall, but I will assure him I will cooperate if he is taking over as the Manager of Opposition Business. Among everything that the Manager of Opposition Business said, there was nothing that I feel I have to take action on. Some people have very broad shoulders and are able to take comments. The Treasurer has the call.

Mr SWAN: I was arguing the case for a carbon price, something that was believed in by some of those opposite only a short time ago. The shadow Treasurer had this to say only last year:

I believe the market mechanism is the best way to price a commodity. I am a true believer in markets.

That was only last year, to Lenore Taylor and David Uren. That is what the shadow Treasurer said then, but he has done a lot more. He said this on ABC Radio National on 6 March:

We were the initiators of an emissions trading scheme. We went to the last election promising to introduce an emissions trading scheme in 2011-12. We put the fundamentals in place.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer must relate his remarks to the question.

Mr SWAN: That is why I describe him as a turncoat. He used to have some principles and he no longer has them.