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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3214

Climate Change

Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (14:32): My question is the Minister for the Environment. Ronald Reagan said that the first duty of any government is to protect its country's people. However, since you became minister in September, you have raised the issue of climate change on only four occasions in this House. Do you accept that this government has a duty to protect the Australian way of life from the impacts of climate change and do you accept that you are failing miserably to meet this responsibility?

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for the Environment) (14:33): You know, as the days go on, I miss Peter Garrett more and more. He was the one, of course, who acknowledged that at least he had a short memory. This is the crossbencher, and this is the opposition, that in government took a real axe to the Australian way of life. They are the people who imposed a tax of $550 a year, when they went to an election saying that they would not. If you worry about Australian life, the first thing that you would worry about is truth in government. Truth in government would be fundamental.

Ms Butler interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Griffith will desist.

Mr HUNT: What we heard throughout the course of the last term was a government built on a fundamental deception. As the member for Melbourne would remember, the opposition, when they were in government, went to the election pledging that there would be no carbon tax under the government they led. They pledged there would be no carbon tax.

Mr Bandt: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. My question was about the use of the term 'climate change'. We are a minute into the answer and the minister still has not mentioned climate change. Will you ask him to be relevant to the question?

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order. It was a very wide-ranging question full of argument, to be honest.

Mr HUNT: In terms of the Australian way of life, starting with truth in government, starting with your commitments, starting with the fundamental contract with the Australian people would be an absolute essential for good governance in this country. The member for Melbourne struck a compact which caused the government of the day to breach their fundamental pact with the Australian people. Do you know the worst thing about it? Apart from the fact that it was a $550 tax, apart from the fact that it was an increase in electricity prices, apart from the fact that it was an increase in gas prices, it did not do the job on climate change. If you want to have an impact you would think that you would actually want to reduce emissions. The latest figures are that after a multibillion- dollar tax the decrease in Australia's emissions—these are not our figures—was 0.1 per cent from this great tax over the first year. So a multibillion-dollar tax, with a $550 a year impact on Australian families, came at the cost of a fundamental compact between Australian families, Australian pensioners, Australian voters and the government of the day.

We are concerned about protecting Australian families. We are going to take actions which actually reduce our emissions, rather than a 0.1 per cent impact from a multibillion-dollar tax. I welcome this question from the member for Melbourne—come on down with more—but at the end of the day, if you want to do something for the Australian way of life, stand up for truth and stand up for the compact between the Australian people and the government.

Mr Conroy interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Charlton is warned!