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Thursday, 22 March 2012
Page: 2604

Carbon Pricing


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:00): My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Senator Wong. Is the minister aware that a report prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, tabled in the Queensland parliament, and a survey conducted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland reveals that Labor's carbon tax—the world's biggest carbon tax—means that in my home state of Queensland state growth will fall by four per cent, 41,000 fewer jobs will be created, investment will be five per cent lower than it otherwise would have been, tourism costs will be 30 per cent higher, regional airline costs will be 157 per cent higher and the average house and land package will increase in cost by more than $5,000? Why is the Labor Party burdening Queenslanders with this toxic carbon tax that will cost Queensland jobs, kill Queensland growth, reduce investment in Queensland and drive up cost-of-living pressures for Queenslanders?


Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:01): There were quite a number of propositions in that question with which the evidence does not agree and the government does not agree with. I have said many times in this place that it is clear from the Treasury modelling that we can grow the Australian economy, we can grow jobs and we can grow incomes with a carbon price. Similarly, we can grow jobs in Queensland and increase incomes and jobs with a carbon price.

I take issue and the government takes issue with the statements made in the question by Senator Brandis. It is simply a regurgitation of the fear campaign that we have seen for a very long time now from those opposite, who seem to forget that they did go to the 2007 election with a policy for a carbon price for an emissions trading scheme—something Mr Turnbull argued very strongly for, something that was not contingent upon the world moving as fast. That was John Howard's policy and that was the Liberal Party's policy.

I would make two points on carbon pricing. First, I refer the senator to a report released on 19 March which goes through carbon prices internationally and shows that many countries have or are implementing higher carbon prices than those in the Clean Energy Act. There are expectations of a carbon price of $24 to $30 a tonne in Britain, $130 a tonne in Sweden, $30 to $60 a tonne in Switzerland, $53 a tonne in Norway and $24 to $37 a tonne in Ireland. I would finally make the point that the Treasury modelling projects the economy of Queensland to grow by 42 per cent to 2020 alone and by 212 per cent by 2050, with increased employment by 2020 with a carbon price.


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:03): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for sharing her Scandinavian vision of Australia's economy with us. I suspect it will not be popular north of the Tweed. I remind the minister that, according to the Energy Users Association, Queenslanders are already paying among the highest prices for electricity in the world and are paying the highest prices of any citizens in Australia. Given Queensland families and businesses already know that their power bills are going up, won't a carbon tax, which will add another 10 per cent on top of the existing electricity prices, be the final straw for Queensland families and Queensland businesses?


Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:04): It appears from the first part of the question that Senator Brandis has decided that Britain is part of Scandinavia. I do not know if he, as a well-known monarchist, has explained that view to his British friends. I would remind him that in fact the Conservative Party in Britain support action on climate change and support a price on carbon—they are sensible conservatives, like John Howard was on this issue at the 2007 election.

I would also make this point, and I have made it previously: if those opposite are so worried about high carbon prices and the effect on Australian families, why are they supporting a policy with a higher effective carbon price than the government's, with higher costs for the Australian economy and with a greater tax burden on Australian families—$1,300 per household per year for your policy? If you really cared about the impact on families, you would not be supporting the policy you have. (Time expired)


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:05): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Is the minister aware that Labor's carbon tax has been one of the central issues in the current Queensland election campaign? In the event there were to be a change of government in Queensland on Saturday, would the minister accept that Queenslanders are sending a clear message to Canberra that they do not want Labor's toxic carbon tax?

The PRESIDENT: The minister can answer that in so much as it relates to the portfolio.



Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:05): Nice try, Senator Brandis. It is very obvious to everybody in this chamber that Senator Brandis is desperate to try to outdo Senator Joyce in doing his bit in the Senate chamber for the Queensland election campaign, but ultimately that is an issue that Senator Brandis and Senator Joyce can sort out amongst themselves.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, resume your seat. Order on my left! When there is silence we will proceed.

Senator WONG: I would again say that the highest effective carbon price on offer is from those opposite—$62 per tonne. That is the effective carbon price the opposition want to impose. What else do they want to impose? More costs on families, more costs on households, including Queensland households, and more tax. And what else do they want to do? They want to make sure that the government does not deliver tax breaks to business, including Queensland small business. Those are the facts, Mr President. No amount of fear campaign counters those facts. (Time expired)