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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 2046


Mr RIPOLL (Oxley) (14:56): My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and Minister for Industry and Innovation. How is the government supporting Australian jobs, industry and households through the clean energy future package? And how is the government making sure that Australian industry remains competitive and creates jobs and growth into the future?

Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:56): I thank the member for Oxley for his question. It is an important one. The Labor government's priority is to manage the economy in the interests of working people, to give people a hand to support jobs and to make sure we have a strong economy so that jobs grow. That is why we managed the economy the way we did during the global financial crisis—to ensure that as many jobs as possible were protected and that jobs kept growing.

Commitment to the working people and the working families of this nation is the reason the clean energy future package, containing the carbon price, includes not only household assistance but support for jobs. Today the government released regulations to establish what we have entitled the Jobs and Competitiveness Program. Those regulations are now in place. That program will provide substantial assistance in the form of free carbon permits to the most emissions intensive and trade exposed industries—like the steel industry, aluminium smelting and cement manufacturing. The most emissions intensive industries will receive an initial average of 94½ per cent of their carbon permits for free, meaning that the effective carbon price is reduced from $23 to $1.30.

The government has designed that assistance to support the jobs in those industries. It is especially significant assistance worth many billions of dollars over the next few years. If a business can reduce its emissions intensity, its effective carbon price might in fact be less than $1.30 per tonne of greenhouse gases. In fact, it might mean that business has excess free permits that can be sold for a profit. That is built into the design of this support and is a tremendously powerful incentive for companies to reduce their emissions. Any discussion about carbon pricing, the competitiveness of our economy and support for jobs in these important industries has to take these issues into account—not the nonsense that is thrown into this debate by the Leader of the Opposition. We have also put aside a $1 billion program to support investments in clean technology in low emissions technologies. We will continue to support jobs and the competitiveness of our economy while the opposition continues to undermine strong economic management.