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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6512

Carbon Pricing

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:10): My question is to the Prime Minister. Can she confirm that the carbon tax will increase to over $24 a tonne on 1 July and that, if the government is re-elected, it will increase to over $25 a tonne next year? Why is her government's carbon tax going up and up and up when the carbon tax in Europe went down again last night to $6 and New Zealand's carbon tax has just dropped to just 75c?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:11): The Leader of the Opposition well knows, and so do members of this House well know, the government's design of carbon pricing. Yes, there is a fixed price for the first three years—the 'carbon tax' to use the terminology—and then it moves to an emissions trading scheme.

When it moves to an emission trading scheme, Australian businesses will get the benefit of the international price for carbon pricing. What is remarkable about this question is that the Leader of the Opposition is quoting prices from other nations when he has spent the best part of two years telling Australians that no-one else in the world is pricing carbon other than Australia. So I thank him for acknowledging—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will resume her seat. The Leader of the Opposition on a point of order.

Mr Abbott: Yes, Madam Speaker. It was a very simple question: why is our price going up and up and up when the price elsewhere is going down and down and down?

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The Prime Minister has the call.

Ms GILLARD: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for again confirming that he now recognises that nations around the world are putting a price on carbon.

What he does not seem to be realising is that he is shooting down one of the principal argument he has used publicly against carbon pricing. He has been out in the Australian community saying, 'Australia shouldn't go it alone; no-one else is doing this,' and then he comes into this chamber and asks about other people's prices.

But the hypocrisy does not end there, because, under the government scheme, as we move to an emission trading scheme Australian businesses will be paying the world price—no more, no less. That is why we are doing things like linking our scheme to the scheme in the European Union.

Who is opposed to that? Who is opposed to international linking? Who is opposed to Australian businesses having the benefits of the world price? The Leader of the Opposition is! It is specifically ruled out in his sham statements about so-called 'direct action', because this is a policy that does not make any sense and would certainly impose more costs on the Australian nation.

Every reputable person who has looked at the Leader of the Opposition's plan has dismissed it as nonsense. It is the kind of policy you cobble together when you have been running a fear campaign and then you are not sure what to do next. I say to the Leader of the Opposition that he would be better advised to adopt the position he clearly had when he was a minister in the Howard government—that is, a position of putting a price on carbon.

This is weathervane politics which is not in the national interest, not in the interests of Australian businesses, not in the interests of jobs and not in the interests of a clean energy future. All of this should be abandoned by the Leader of the Opposition. He should have the decency to do what Prime Minister Howard did and endorse carbon pricing.

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:14): Madam Speaker, I have a supplementary question. If the Prime Minister is right and Australia is somehow paying the world price, does she stand by the government's budget estimate that the carbon price will rise to $38 a tonne by 2020? If she does not, what happens to the government's budget and isn't the black hole just getting bigger and bigger and bigger? (Time expired)

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:15): What the Leader of the Opposition's supplementary question shows is if you are going to run a fear campaign month after month after month it pays to spend just a tiny moment of your time getting to grips with the policy proposition you are running the fear campaign against. Clearly, the Leader of the Opposition has never done that. He grabbed a slogan out of the air—carbon tax going up and up and up; no more Whyalla; no more lamb roasts; and on and on it went—and he has never got to grips with the policy proposition. To the Leader of the Opposition, who has simply got no idea about this matter: let me explain it to him again.

We put in place carbon pricing. It has a fixed price for the first three years and then you move to an emissions trading scheme which we have worked to link internationally so businesses get the benefit of the world price. Then, of course, what happens with the budget is what happens with other budget figures, and that is that experts in Treasury make forecasts for the government—and the shadow Treasurer rolls his eyes! You are sacking everybody in Treasury, are you? Every professional gone if the shadow Treasurer is ever the Treasurer? Well, of course not. The same professionals will assist the Leader of the Opposition if he is ever Prime Minister and they will give him the same advice, and that advice will be that carbon pricing is the cheapest, most effective way of tackling climate change.