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Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Page: 11948

Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (22:52): At the outset, I would like to present a replacement explanatory memorandum. There are some numerical cross-referencing errors in the original memorandum. There is certainly no material difference.

I thank the members of the House for their contributions to the debate in relation to the Clean Energy Amendment (International Emissions Trading and Other Measures) Bill 2012 and related bills, and also thank the House Standing Committee on Economics, which is chaired by the member for Parramatta, who delivered the report of that committee on these bills today.

It is important to state that a number of common points have been made by members opposite that appear to be from a set of talking points to which they have been referring, and there are numerous errors within them. I think it is most appropriate that I indicate that I repudiate every single one of them. They are ridiculous propositions that have been put. I made a comprehensive second reading speech about the purpose and content of the bills before the House and I rely upon it. The bills must be put within their proper international context because, in particular, some misleading claims have been made about the nature of international action on climate change.

According to the IMF's assessment just this week, Australia is the 12th largest economy in the world—having leapt up several places. We are the 15th largest emitter of greenhouse gases internationally and we are the highest emitter of greenhouse gases per capita amongst the advanced economies. Anyone who thinks that Australia can do nothing, not do its fair share in tackling climate change internationally, is kidding themselves and betraying our future—betraying our economic future let alone our environmental future. Yet that is essentially the argument that is posited here time and again.

It is also posited that no-one else internationally is taking any action. It is worth just restating a few points in this respect. By next year over 850 million people will be living in a jurisdiction where there is a carbon price in operation. Since we introduced the carbon price last year more and more countries around the world are saying that they too are moving to carbon pricing. For example, in February this year South Africa announced that they will introduce a carbon tax which will start in 2013. In May this year Korea legislated to introduce a nationwide emissions trading scheme which will cover 60 per cent of emissions and be the second largest scheme in the world. Next month California, the world's eighth largest economy, larger than our own economy in its own right, will start auctioning permits for its emissions trading scheme which will commence in January 2013. By 2015 that scheme will be the third largest in the world, covering 85 per cent of emissions in the state of California. That is on top of emissions trading schemes that already operate in a number of other US states and that are also being developed in four Canadian provinces. Next year our biggest trading partner, China, will launch its regional emissions trading schemes, covering about 200 million people and over 2,000 Chinese businesses.

The Australian government is closely involved with all those jurisdictions about the mechanisms that they are pursuing in relation to carbon pricing and we are in discussions with other countries that are implementing emissions trading arrangements with respect to the potential linking of our emissions trading scheme with theirs. Ultimately we have to be responsive to the science and we have a public policy responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest cost to the economy, and linking with other emissions trading schemes internationally is an important way of achieving those environmental and economic goals.

The bills before the House will implement an agreement that has been reached between the European Union and the Australian government that links our emissions trading scheme from 1 July 2015 with that which operates in Europe, the world's largest carbon market. That is a very important position. It means that from 1 July 2015 Australia will have a carbon price which is common to that in 30 other jurisdictions, in 30 other countries, covering hundreds of millions of people, covering our second largest, in aggregate, trading partner. This is what these bills are about. We are implementing the arrangement reached with the European Union and it is an extremely important achievement from an environmental and economic standpoint. The bills before the House implement that and a number of other measures to which I averted in my second reading speech. I commend those bills to the House.

Debate adjourned.

House adjourned at 22:58