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Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Page: 1730

Carbon Pricing


Senator EDWARDS (South Australia) (14:15): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Senator Wong. I refer the minister to modelling conducted by the South Australian Treasury, which was obtained under freedom of information laws, which reveals that 1,500 jobs are likely to be lost in South Australia as a direct result of the government's carbon tax. What is the minister's message to the 1,500 South Australians who will lose their jobs following the introduction of the world's biggest carbon tax?


Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:16): What my answer would be is: do not be fooled by the fear campaign from those opposite; do not be fooled by them saying they are worried about a carbon price, when their policy would impose a higher cost on your family. Do not be fooled by Senator Edwards saying he cares about jobs, when he is lining up to take $1.5 billion out of the car industry. Why don't you go out to the northern suburbs of Adelaide and sell that, Senator? Why don't you go out to the northern suburbs of Adelaide and explain to the vehicle manufacturers and the workers in that industry why you want to walk away from the automotive sector? What I would also say to those South Australians is this: remember Work Choices, because that showed what the Liberal Party really thinks of working people.

Senator Edwards: Mr President, my point of order goes to relevance. I am purely interested in the minister's message to the 1,500 South Australians. That is my point of order—relevance: the message from the minister to the 1,500 South Australians.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. The minister is addressing the question. The minister has one minute and seven seconds remaining.

Senator WONG: I would say to them; don't be fooled by the fear campaign from those opposite, who peddle mistruths and falsehoods. We can grow our economy, including South Australia's, with a carbon price. We can grow jobs. We can grow our incomes. That is what the modelling shows. We know that a price on carbon is critical to ensuring that we get investment into the clean energy jobs which will sustain our economy in the decades ahead. We know that we do not want to be left behind as the world increasingly moves to put a premium on low-carbon goods and services, and we have designed a plan which will ensure that we make that transition efficiently.

Those opposite have a plan which will impose greater costs on working Australian—not something they care about—and they will give money to large polluters in the hope that they might do something with it. The reality is that the priorities of the coalition are not about jobs; the priorities of the coalition are all about the coalition's fear campaign.





Senator EDWARDS (South Australia) (14:19): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Given South Australian Treasury's modelling demonstrates that the carbon tax will have the effect of negating 75 per cent of the jobs created by the proposed expansion of BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam mine, coupled with the fact that South Australia has the worst economic figures of all the states, when will the minister come clean to South Australians about the impact of the carbon tax?


Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:19): Well, when will the senator come clean to South Australians with the increased tax he is going to whack Australian households with to fund his climate plan which will not work? When will he come clean on that?

The Treasury modelling projects the economy of South Australia to grow by 23 per cent to 2020 alone and by 108 per cent by 2050, with employment increasing by 2020 with a carbon price—something those opposite simply do not want to hear. With a carbon price we can still have more jobs, more income, and grow our economy. The senator would perhaps do well to look at his party's position when it comes to blocking tax cuts for small business, including South Australians, and the company tax cuts, including South Australians. He would do well to consider the opposition's position on this.


Senator EDWARDS (South Australia) (14:20): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Given that the South Australian Premier and the employment minister were not aware that their own Treasury department had conducted this modelling, isn't this just another example of Labor governments concealing tax modelling to mislead the Australian people about the true impact of this tax? When will the government stop hiding behind the assumptions on which this modelling depends and come clean to the Australian people?

The PRESIDENT: Order! Firstly, the minister can only answer that part of the question which pertains to the portfolio that she is representing. Minister, I ask you to address that part that you can.



Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:21): I will, as a matter of courtesy to the chamber and the senator, attempt to answer the question.

Senator Abetz: Why start now?

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Wong, continue. Ignore the interjections.

Senator WONG: Thank you, Mr President. I suspect it is a question that should be asked in the South Australian parliament rather than to me, but I would make this point. We have released an unprecedented amount of data and an unprecedented amount of modelling. We have been up-front with the Australian people about our package, including our tax cuts which you also oppose. It is quite interesting that those opposite are opposing personal tax cuts as well as company tax cuts. I would say this: if the senator wants to talk about coming clean, why is it that those opposite cannot bring themselves to come clean with Australians about the cost of their carbon policy? They cannot bring themselves to come clean with Australians about the $1,300 extra in tax that they will impose on working Australians. They will not come clean about that, so do not come into this chamber and lecture us about transparency, Senator.