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Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Page: 4700

Senator CAROL BROWN (TasmaniaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (16:21): That contribution by Senator Williams really did show in the first few minutes what this debate is really about—that is about the fact that the opposition still have not got over the fact that we are in government. They still do not accept that we govern and are doing an extremely good job. The economy is strong—

Senator Brandis: No thanks to you.

Senator CAROL BROWN: Of course, Senator Brandis knows everything about everything. What would the coalition have done during the global financial crisis? We know what they would have done—nothing. That is exactly what they have done for nearly two years. They have done nothing—worse than nothing: they have embarked on scare campaign after scare campaign. The only thing that they do know is the word no. They have continually said no, and the Australian public are sick of it. They have actually at some point to come out with some positive policies. They have not done that; they have not got any—it is no, no, no.

Mr Abbott is known for his negativity, and, unfortunately, he has been getting his way in your caucus room. It is about time some that some of you stood up. I know that Senator Brandis has probably got a few ideas—whether they are good or not is a judgment you will have to make yourself, Mr Deputy Acting President—but from what I have seen of Senator Brandis's work—

Senator Jacinta Collins: He's actually the Deputy President.

Senator CAROL BROWN: Sorry—Mr Deputy President.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Continue, Senator Brown.

Senator Williams: He's not acting; he's fair dinkum.

Senator CAROL BROWN: I know; he is a good Tasmanian senator. Let us have a look at the matter of public importance that Senator Fifield has proposed. Obviously, he has again embarked on the wild absurdities which are constantly being perpetrated by those opposite. He has listed three issues. As usual, the first one is carbon pricing and climate change. Let us look at the evidence; we know what that will tell us. We are acting on climate change. We are placing a price on carbon. Those opposite can sit on the other side of the chamber and take pot shots at the government over climate change, but it is worth remembering that they too used to believe, that those opposite, under Mr Howard and Mr Turnbull, were supporters of a carbon price.

Senator Williams: I wasn't here!

Senator CAROL BROWN: They supported an emissions trading scheme. I am sure there are still some on that side of the chamber who believe. Some of those opposite know that taking action on climate change is the right thing to do. They know that we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and they know that a price on carbon is the most effective and efficient way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They do not have to believe me—I am sure they will not—but it is worth remembering that some of those opposite have stated their belief in climate change and in the need to introduce a carbon price. Okay, Senator Williams, you were not here. You are relieved of that obligation. But we know that your leader, Mr Abbott, said on Lateline in October 2009:

We don't want to play games with the planet. So we are taking this issue seriously and we would like to see an ETS …

Again, Mr Turnbull—

Senator Jacinta Collins: Sorry, who said that?

Senator CAROL BROWN: Mr Abbott, of course. Mr—I was going to say Mr Negativity—Mr Abbott.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Well you have; do not do it again!

Senator CAROL BROWN: I am sorry, Mr Deputy President. Next we have Mr Turnbull, who said on Q&A on 26 July 2010:

… you won't find an economist anywhere that will tell you anything other than that the most efficient and effective way to cut emissions is by putting a price on carbon.

While Mr Abbot's comments would suggest he was supportive of a carbon price, nothing could be further from the truth, because, as we know, over the past two years Mr Abbott has been running around spreading falsehoods and mistruths. He has engaged in the mother of all scare campaigns, which, unfortunately, has also reached Tasmania, as you would be aware, Mr Deputy President. He has been forecasting the end of entire industries. He has sent out his shadow ministry and his backbenchers, to go around predicting the end of towns, saying that whole towns will be wiped off the map. He has been trying to scare households into thinking that the sky is going to fall.

Senator Furner: Even puppies and kittens.

Senator CAROL BROWN: Yes, and today of course we had puppies and kittens brought into the negative story that is being told by Mr Abbott. Mr Abbott has been saying that the carbon price will be the wrecking ball that destroys Australia. But, slowly and surely, Mr Abbott has had to back away from these claims. Slowly, the truth is catching up with Mr Abbott. I look forward to 1 July when the carbon price is implemented and the mother of all scare campaigns can come crashing down.

Mr Abbott knows he is spreading mistruths. He knows that his mindless negativity and falsehoods will catch up with him and that he will be exposed. We have seen him, as we have seen the rest of the opposition, slowly shift away from his earlier description of the carbon price. He has gone from calling the carbon price the wrecking ball that will destroy industries and wipe towns off the map to now describing it as a python. Mr Abbott knows that his absurdities will be exposed. I do look forward to the time when those falsehoods are exposed.

While Mr Abbott has focused on spreading mistruths we have been getting on with talking about the facts of our scheme. I will take this opportunity to examine those facts. The federal Labor government's clean energy future package will place a price on carbon, it will cut pollution and it will drive investment in clean energy technologies and infrastructure such as solar, gas and wind. Let us be clear: the carbon price will not be paid for by ordinary Australians. The carbon price is about making polluters pay. As such, only Australia's biggest polluters will pay the carbon price. All money raised by the carbon price will go to supporting jobs, to driving investment in clean energy technology and to households. This support to households through increased payments and tax cuts will be targeted to those who need it most. We will ensure pensioners, low- and middle-income earners and families doing it tough will be looked after. Nine out of 10 Australian households will receive assistance through a combination of tax and other increases to payments. Almost six million households will get tax cuts or increases to payments that cover the entire average price increase expected under a carbon price. Over four million Australian households will receive an extra buffer against the average price impact of the carbon price. These households will get assistance that is worth 120 per cent of the average price impact of the carbon price. All households will benefit from not having to pay the carbon price on any fuels including petrol, diesel and LPG for passenger motor vehicles. It is also worth remembering that this assistance is permanent, and the government will review the adequacy of the assistance each year and will increase it further if necessary.

Let me examine and refute the claim that Australia is going to do it alone internationally when it comes to the carbon price. While those opposite continue to wage their scare campaign, next week Australia will join more than three-quarters of the world's advanced economies in tackling climate change with an emissions trading scheme. The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency has conducted an analysis that shows from 2013 there will be more than 50 national or subnational emission trading schemes in place around the world. These schemes will cover a combined population of more than 850 million people and account for around 30 per cent of the global economy, or 27 times the size of the Australian economy in 2012.

Whilst Mr Abbott and the Liberal opposition continue to engage in unfounded scare campaigns— (Timeexpired)