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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 268

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (18:23): Let me just say upfront that the coalition government will not be supporting either this motion by the Greens or the subsequent motion by the opposition. What we have just heard from Senator Milne was an attempt to re-litigate the last two elections. Direct Action has been widely canvassed in the lead-up to two elections. It has been widely canvassed across the Australian community and the Australian people passed judgement on what they thought the Australian Senate should do when it comes to the Labor-Green carbon tax and to Direct Action. The Australian people voted for the Senate to scrap the carbon tax and for the parliament to support the coalition government's approach, which is to reduce emissions through Direct Action.

In the interests of time and just very quickly, again the Greens' leader quite inappropriately, quite outrageously, sought to politicise tragic events that have happened in Australia in recent times by establishing a link which scientists say cannot be made between climate change and individual events. Senator Milne would be well aware that across Australia since time immemorial there have been floods, there have been droughts and there have been bushfires, and to make the link for political purposes to scare people across Australia in the way she did again today is quite outrageous. She knows it is inaccurate and she is just doing it for political purposes.

As for an inquiry into Direct Action, Senator Milne would be quite aware that the coalition government right now is undertaking an extensive consultation process on our direct action policy. We have released terms of reference for the Emissions Reduction Fund on 16 October. The government is encouraging business, community groups and organisations to make submissions in response to those terms of reference. Those submissions will be considered as part of the development of a green paper, which will be released in December. So we are acting quite swiftly in implementing this very strong and very sound policy to reduce emissions by five per cent by 2020. The white paper outlining the final design of the Emissions Reduction Fund will be released early in 2014. If the Greens were genuine in wanting to have an inquiry into what the government is actually doing, they would await the outcome of that consultation before pressing ahead with this particular inquiry which is a political exercise. The Emissions Reduction Fund will provide incentives for companies to reduce their emissions to achieve that five per cent reduction in emissions by 2020. It will be market based by its mechanisms designed to simply and efficiently source the lowest cost abatement.

I have just a quick newsflash for the Greens: a tax imposed by the government is not a market based mechanism. The Labor-Green carbon tax is a tax which comes with massive government red tape to boot—or should I say, red and green tape to boot. Whether it is a fixed price tax or a floating price tax, to describe it as a market based mechanism is just ridiculous and we completely reject that characterisation. Unlike the carbon tax, the Emissions Reduction Fund will actually reduce our domestic emissions by five per cent by 2020 and, unlike the Labor-Green $9 billion a year carbon tax, the cost of the Emissions Reduction Fund will be capped at $300 million in 2014-15, $500 million in 2015-16 and $750 million in 2016-17 over the forward estimates.