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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 6986

Carbon Pricing

Mr BRIGGS (Mayo) (14:36): My question is to the Acting Prime Minister. I refer the Acting Prime Minister to reports that the former CEO of the government's Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute was paid in excess of $500,000 a year, that members flew first class worldwide and that $54 million was spent on operational expenses in the first two years. Why is the government squeezing Australians with the world's biggest carbon tax when it is wasting money allocating $100 million a year to an institute which itself has admitted that this is too much to spend responsibly?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:37): I thank the member for his question, because the government does not apologise for its commitment to carbon capture and storage technology—not one bit—and I believe that some of the reportage of the institute has been exaggerated. The fact is that the development of carbon capture and storage technology is one that is going to be difficult, but it is one that we must absolutely do. It takes an enormous amount of research, it takes an enormous number of partners around the world to put together the right combination of people to get the outcomes that we deserve. So this institute, I believe, has done good work.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SWAN: What we are seeing here yet again is the fact that the climate change sceptics opposite do not even accept the basic science of climate change. Therefore they cannot come to the table to have a sensible discussion about what we must do not only in terms of putting a price on carbon but also driving the essential technological development that we need for the decades ahead. Carbon capture and storage is an area where, as one of the largest coal exporters in the world, we do need to make some very substantial progress. As an economy we produce a lot of coal and we export a lot of coal. We have a very big interest in developing carbon capture and storage technology. That is precisely what the institute is doing. It is not something that those on the other side of the House understand or appreciate, but from our point of view we will not be deterred from meeting the challenges of dangerous climate change and supporting our very important coal industry.

Mr Hockey interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, the member for North Sydney should observe the standing orders!