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Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Page: 7987

Carbon Pricing


Mr SYMON (Deakin) (14:42): My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Minister for Industry and Innovation. Minister, how well have forecasts of the outlook for Australian businesses under carbon pricing performed? Why is it important that we look at the facts on this issue?


Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:42): I thank the member for Deakin for his question. There is very strong investment in the Australian economy in full knowledge of the carbon price starting on 1 July, despite all of the efforts by the Leader of the Opposition to talk down the economy. The prophet of doom has been turning up at businesses around the country for months, predicting their demise under carbon pricing. We all know, of course, that when the Leader of the Opposition visited a Peabody coalmine and forecast the death of the coal industry—its death!—the very next day the company announced a $5 billion takeover. Some death!

I have had a look at a few other places that the Leader of the Opposition has visited, and there is quite an intriguing pattern emerging: it appears that, if the Leader of the Opposition visits your business and predicts doom, in fact you might boom. Have a look at some of the results. Last year, for example, he visited BHP Billiton's Mount Whaleback iron ore mine and said, of course, 'The carbon price—the end of the iron ore industry; terrible outlook'. But what actually happened after he left? BHP Billiton then announced it would invest $822 million in further expanding the ore body nearby—$822 million after the prophet of doom had been there.

Then the Leader of the Opposition went to Austal's Henderson shipyard and said it would be terrible: 'This is going to be significantly, terribly impacted by the carbon price.' What happened after he left? Since he left Austal has announced $400 million of new contracts for its facility at Henderson—$400 million in new business. He went on to Visy's Gibson Island recycling mill and said that it was going to be a victim of carbon price and the end of the mill. Yet since he left Visy has announced a $300 million waste-to-energy proposal, including a new plant at Gibson Island. This is what Anthony Pratt, Visy's Executive Chairman, had to say:

I see clean energy as a source of future growth, energy and emissions savings and a whole new business division for Visy.

That was said by Anthony Pratt, the head of Visy, after the Leader of the Opposition had been there forecasting doom. We all know he has forecast the death of the coal industry, but $100 billion of extra investment is coming in. All we can hope is that, after his silly visit to the RSPCA today, it will forecast a better outcome for the little puppies and the little kittens in good care at the RSPCA.


Mr SYMON (Deakin) (14:45): Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, you have spoken about the investments being made with the full knowledge of the carbon price, are there any other examples?


Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:46): I thank the member for Deakin, again. The member for McMillan, I am sure in very good faith, raised an issue earlier about the Latrobe Valley, and the Leader of the Opposition has visited the Latrobe Valley as well and forecast doom and gloom, death and destruction and the end of the Latrobe Valley. He has forecast the end of the entire region. But, today, just days before the carbon price is to commence, when you look through all the rubbish in the headlines at what has actually taken place, there has been $1.6 billion of refinancing in brown coal electricity generation in the Latrobe Valley. He forecast the death of the Latrobe Valley and there is $1.6 billion in refinancing.

Mr Chester interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Order! The member for Gippsland is warned.

Mr COMBET: International Power and GDF Suez, the operators of Hazelwood and Loy Yang B, say, 'We are pleased to announce the refinancing of our debt facilities.' The new debt facility was well supported, particularly by the Australian and Asia-Pacific markets. So that is it: the death of the Latrobe Valley, but $1.6 billion in financing just days before the carbon price starts. AGL has invested in Loy Yang A power station and every one of these announcements is a statement of confidence in the economic future of that region.