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Thursday, 4 February 2010
Page: 468

Ms COLLINS (1:49 PM) —It is my pleasure to rise to speak in support of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2010 and cognate bills. In doing that I think it is important to reflect on why we are reintroducing these bills. We are reintroducing them primarily because we have a mandate from the Australian people to introduce an emissions carbon trading scheme. That is what we went to the Australian people with prior to the election and that is what we promised the Australian people that we would deliver. We know that those on the other side, the former government, under Prime Minister Howard had the same policy. They believed that an emissions trading scheme was the best solution to deal with climate change and the overwhelming science is saying that climate change is caused by carbon pollution and carbon in our atmosphere and the way to deal with it is to put a price on carbon.

All the countries around the world are implementing carbon pollution reduction schemes. We have 30 countries—including those in Europe, Japan and New Zealand—that either have introduced or are introducing a carbon pollution reduction scheme. The reason they are doing that is that overwhelmingly everybody agrees the best way to deal with it is to put a price on carbon. But that is not what we have seen from those opposite with their proposal. As we know, their proposal is some magic potion that obviously nobody else in the world has thought of other than Tony Abbott. He is the only one who has this great brilliant idea about another way to reduce carbon emissions. If it is so brilliant, why didn’t anybody other than Tony Abbott come up with it? It is just farcical to come into this place and say that their solution is going to reduce carbon and meet the target of five per cent—our target which they have agreed is a consensus target of a five per cent reduction in emissions over that time. As I said, there is clearly scientific consensus that climate change is happening and caused by carbon in our atmosphere and we need to reduce it. It has been accepted by the majority of scientists and it is accepted by the majority of governments.

We have set our target and the CPRS and an emissions trading scheme is clearly the best way to achieve that. That is why we are reintroducing this bill. But we have been upfront with the Australian people, unlike what the previous speaker, the member for Mayo, was trying to indicate. We have said that, yes, you cannot reduce carbon, you cannot move to a low-carbon economy, without a cost, and the sooner you introduce legislation, the sooner you provide a surety for people about how you are going to do that, the less cost to the economy there will be. You have got to act now and the sooner you act the less cost there will be down the track. So we all know that that is why we are doing this, why we are reintroducing this bill.

I have spoken on this bill before and I have spoken about the impacts in my electorate of Franklin in southern Tasmania. It has a lot of coastal areas. Specifically in my last speech I referred to a report that has been done and I want to revisit that because I think it is really quite significant. It is on the climate change impacts on Clarence coastal areas. Clarence City Council is a municipality in my electorate which has a lot of coastline, and it has had a report done that has been funded by the Australian Department of Climate Change and the state government’s emergency service. It reveals quite a compelling argument for action on climate change. It says that we need to act now because we are already having issues with the coastal areas in the electorate. We have 191 kilometres of coastline, much of which is low-lying, and major floods and storms are raising a number a concerns particularly for residents of Lauderdale and Roches Beach. I would have thought that most people in this place who have coastal areas in their electorates would be very concerned about the need to act on climate change and the need to act now. That is why we are reintroducing this legislation, because we want to provide some surety for people. We want to put a price on carbon because most governments around the world understand that that is the best way that you can reduce carbon pollution in the atmosphere.

I want to go back to Tony Abbott’s plan. We all know about the plan he has dreamt up, this magic potion, in the last six weeks that nobody else in the world has thought of before. He is always going on about this. We have heard the confession from the member for Mayo that there are people opposite who do not believe in climate change. I thank the member for Mayo for being so upfront that there are people on his side of the chamber who do not believe in climate change. And of course we have heard Tony Abbott himself say that he thinks climate change is ‘absolute crap’. What is really interesting about those on the other side and the confession from the member for Mayo is that the member for Mayo even went so far as to say that he thinks an emissions trading scheme has some merit. I call on those on the other side who do believe in climate change and who do believe that an emissions trading scheme has some merit to come over here and vote with us for an emissions trading scheme that will actually reduce carbon in the atmosphere because we are going to put a price on it. That is how you actually reduce it. I think it is important that those on the other side think very carefully about their position on this, and I am looking forward to Malcolm Turnbull’s contribution when he gets to speak on the bill, because he has made it very clear that he still supports an emissions trading scheme. That is why we had that in good faith negotiation and discussion last year when we introduced this bill before. We had a mandate from the Australian people and we wanted to provide certainty for businesses and the economy on this issue. That is why we had those discussions, because we know that a lot of those opposite really believe that an emissions trading scheme is the way to go, and specifically that the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is the way to go.

The Leader of the Opposition has also quite clearly been on the record, which is interesting, saying that polluters going about their usual business will not be affected. How can you say to big, heavy polluters that it is still okay to pollute, when you accept the need to do something on climate change? I do not get that. I am sure there are plenty of people around here who are prepared to put some spin on how that would work, but I do not get it. The best way is to make big polluters pay and to support working families as the adjustments in the economy are being made. We have been upfront that there are going to be costs to the economy. We have costed our policy and, more importantly, we have funded it; we have worked out how we are going to pay for our CPRS. We still have to hear from the opposition, although we have had a few leaks here and there, about how they might actually fund their $10 billion over 10 years. They really are struggling to work out how they are going to pay for this. It is unfunded at the moment. We have heard some discussions and there have been a few slips of the tongue about some of the things they might do to pay for this, things like stopping overseas aid, sacking a few public servants. We have even heard a rumour that they have a secret tax agenda, and goodness only knows what is in that. So I look forward to that coming out. The only way they can pay for their policy realistically is to introduce new taxes or to cut existing services. Either of those will impact on the working people of this country. We at least have a plan to support working people while the adjustments to the economy are made under our plan. They have not given any thought to the working families of this country, they just want to slug them an extra tax and cut services to pay for their brilliant plan that nobody else in the world came up with except Tony Abbott in six weeks. Of the 30 nations across the world that are introducing an emissions trading scheme or are looking towards it, who realise that an emissions trading scheme is the solution, no-one else has come up with Tony Abbott’s brilliant plan—and I wonder why that is. I think it might be because it is not that great a plan.

The current Leader of the Opposition is now in the chamber and I am glad to address him directly. We all know that he has had so many different positions on the CPRS. He supported it when he was a government minister. As I said before, he said it was absolute crap. He then said that the Liberals should support a CPRS unamended. Then he demanded amendments. Now he opposes it totally. Why does he oppose it totally? Because he thinks it might be politically popular for a short-term gain. He is not thinking about the working families that we have thought about in our policy, where we are going to assist them with the adjustments to the economy that are going to occur as we adjust to a low-carbon economy. They are not thinking about working families; they want to slug them with an extra tax or cut services. That is the only way they can fund their policy.

I call on those opposite who have admitted that they believe in climate change, and even those like the member for Mayo, who said he thinks an emissions trading scheme might have some merit, to come over here and vote with us and to tell us what they really think. He said there is plenty of room in the Liberal Party for broad thought, for people to say what they think. Well, I would like them to put it on the record. I would like them to come into this place and to vote for what they believe in.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 2.00 pm, the debate is interrupted. The debate may be resumed at a later hour and the member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.