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Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Page: 7986

Carbon Pricing

Mr BROADBENT (McMillan) (14:38): My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister that the owners of Hazelwood Power Station have been forced to pump $652 million into the plant to keep it solvent because of the risks posed by the carbon tax. Given that the government modelling predicts the carbon tax will lead to a 71 per cent reduction in coal fired power generation, is the Prime Minister prepared for more bailouts like the one planned for Alcoa because of the carbon tax?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:39): In answer to the member's question, No. 1: the assistance provided to Alcoa as described in the parliament yesterday arises because of the particular circumstances of the aluminium industry in Australia at this time. Those circumstances were described by Alan Kranzberg, the managing director of this company, and I am sure the member is not meaning to imply that Alan Kranzberg, as manager, was saying anything other than the truth. I am sure he is not meaning to imply that. Mr Kranzberg made it perfectly clear that the circumstances of Alcoa were being determined by the falls we have seen in aluminium prices globally and by things like the high Australian dollar. He has specifically said—and I alerted the House to these statements yesterday—that the matter which he faced was not a matter about carbon pricing but a set of circumstances generally in the aluminium industry. I believe his words should be accepted by this parliament. They are absolutely the facts.

Second, on the question of Hazelwood, I alert the member to the fact that Hazelwood did announce a refinancing arrangement. This refinancing arrangement has been done through normal commercial arrangements. The suggestions have been in the media that somehow this is an emergency or there is some sense of bailout around it—and I believe the member may have repeated those words. This is a normal commercial arrangement and normal commercial refinancing which should actually speak to this parliament and speak more broadly about the way in which our electricity generation sector will have security as we move into carbon pricing. So the fear campaigning around this, like all of the other fear campaigning—the fear campaigning around jobs, the fear campaigning around cost of living, the fear campaigning around the circumstances of cats and dogs—by the Leader of the Opposition is absolutely untrue.

On 1 July, when the coal industry is still in operation, when electricity generation is still happening around the country, when people get their tax cuts and are spending their increased family payments and pensions, when people go to the shops and do not see the Leader of the Opposition's promised astronomical increase in the cost of living and when Whyalla is still on the map, the Leader of the Opposition's campaign will be exposed for the hollow sham it has been.