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Thursday, 21 June 2012
Page: 7496

Carbon Pricing

Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (14:27): My question is to the Acting Prime Minister. Is the Acting Prime Minister aware that CANEGROWERS, the peak industry body for the sugar industry, has found that the cost of electricity and water for irrigating their crops will reduce farm profitability by over one-third in the next year alone because of the carbon tax? Given that cane farmers do not set their own price for their product, will they be compensated, or does he expect them to either wear a drop in profitability of one-third or just go out of business?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:28): I do not accept the claims made by the member for Herbert, but I absolutely understand the importance of the canegrowing industry to my home state of Queensland. It is a very important industry and one which we seek to foster and to support as much as we possibly can. It is going to be a very important industry for Queensland for a long time to come as we see more and more investment in agriculture in this country, particularly in my home state of Queensland.

That investment will continue with a carbon price, because this economy will grow and it will grow strongly. It can grow and grow strongly with a carbon price, because what we can do is use energy more efficiently and also drive the investment in renewable industry. There is no industry that can be more to the forefront of that than the sugar industry, which is why we do need a carbon price. It is to encourage investment in more energy efficient practices and, in some cases, driven by the products of the—

Mr Ewen Jones: I rise on a point of order on direct relevance. The cane industry is driven by electricity, and the carbon tax is a tax on electricity.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. The Acting Prime Minister is answering the question. The Acting Prime Minister has the call.

Mr SWAN: Increasingly, this industry will be a very important partner in making sure that we are more energy efficient. The practices will also become much more energy efficient. I have great faith in the future of this industry. I do not have any faith in the sorts of predictions that have been made and the bodgie modelling which is produced by all sorts of organisations that do not understand the importance of a carbon price and do not understand the importance of dealing with dangerous climate change.

What I do know is that Queenslanders up and down the coast do understand the importance of dealing with dangerous climate change in terms of protecting our Great Barrier Reef and in terms of protecting our precious environment. Nothing could be more important for Queenslanders, for our sugar industry, and particularly for people in the north than putting a price on carbon. That is very important to deal with the impacts of dangerous climate change. I know that many Queenslanders, if not the member opposite, understand the importance of this fundamental reform, for the future of our rural sector and the future of our economy and, most importantly, the future of our environment.