Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Page: 1635

Senator WORTLEY (5:01 PM) —It is interesting sitting here, watching those opposite wave their arms around and speak in the way they do, thinking that they have an answer when in fact they had 11 years to provide an answer and failed to do so. I rise to speak on the Gillard government’s appreciation and understanding of the cost-of-living pressures facing Australian families and also its commitment to action on climate change.

The government is taking action on climate change because it is the right thing to do. The government does not shirk its responsibilities to the Australian people because the issue is difficult. Hundreds of thousands of Australians are also determined to act on climate change in their own homes, and they want a strong federal government to do the same. It is tragic, then, that while we are getting on with the job, Tony Abbott is still deciding on the accuracy of the climate change science. As one ABC commentator said, Mr Abbott is continuing his ‘ritual carbon tax throttling’. Every day, Mr Abbott dreams up a new horror and in shrill tones conjures up another warning, a new warning, a fresh drama.

It is really difficult to take Mr Abbott and his party seriously on all things climate related. Mr Abbott’s climate policy is nonsense and, despite efforts to convince people that, this week, maybe he really does accept the climate science, his own words that climate change science is ‘absolute crap’ keep coming back to haunt him. The government accepts the science and will implement a carbon price to cut pollution and drive investment in a clean energy future. It is the right thing to do for Australia and the right thing for the economy and Australian jobs.

Carbon pollution is damaging our environment and we want industries that are causing pollution to clean up their act. Polluters will pay every time they emit carbon pollution. We need to get this fact clear: a carbon price is not aimed at households but at some of our largest industries. The carbon price will make these companies pay a price for each tonne of pollution they produce. This will encourage them to produce less pollution and encourage investment in cleaner energy sources and it will lead to new jobs being created while ensuring a cleaner Australia.

The sooner we put a price on that pollution the sooner we will start to transform our economy. A carbon price will create incentive for business to cut pollution. These industries really do have a choice: if they do not want to pay for carbon emissions, they cut their pollution. We understand that many people are concerned about price impacts and we are determined to provide assistance. We will look at the possibilities, we will look at options that are available and we have promised that the assistance we provide to households will be generous.

Of course, the welfare of pensioners and low-income households will come first. You cannot automatically assume that all of the household assistance will be provided to taxpayers, because there are many people who do not earn enough to pay tax, including age pensioners, who will require support after the introduction of a carbon price. So, in designing a system, we need to recognise that the funds are limited and that they need to be shared by number of different groups in our community, not just taxpayers.

Labor will continue to look after Australians who need help, and that means assistance with tight family budgets and it means protecting jobs, just as we did so successfully during the GFC. This government’s proposed carbon price is the cheapest, fairest and most efficient way to cut pollution. Climate expert Professor Ross Garnaut has highlighted the need to provide industry with assistance throughout the transition to a clean energy future. The Prime Minister accepts this and has stated that the government will help emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries as they move to a clean energy future. The assistance will be designed to support existing jobs while creating new ones. Most importantly, Professor Garnaut has said that market based mechanisms to price carbon are superior to direct measures. Mr Abbott’s proposed direct action policy will fail to achieve any significant environmental outcomes and it will cost working families because taxes will increase under the Liberal plan. (Time expired)