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Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Page: 2404

Budget


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (14:09): My question without notice is to the Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Abetz. I refer to Treasurer Mr Hockey's statement that the budget will shape the destiny of the nation. I ask what destiny does the government envisage for Australia in terms of energy infrastructure, in particular given the intention to scrap carbon pricing, the Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and to undermine the renewable energy target?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:09): I thank the Leader of the Australian Greens for allowing me to outline the vision that we as a government have for this great nation. When she was in cahoots with the former Labor government in this place there was no future. Indeed, the light at the end of the tunnel was the debt train rattling at us at 100 miles an hour. After tonight the light at the end of the tunnel will in fact be daylight where the future generations of Australians will be able to be satisfied that the government in 2014 took the right decisions to guarantee their future.

In relation to our vision for energy, one of the great advantages Australia has had over many generations has been our cheap energy, one of the great benefits we have had. We went to the Australian people on the very firm policy of abolishing the carbon tax, a tax we were promised we would never have, especially by the current Leader of the Opposition in this place and the Leader of the Opposition in the other place. So we have a vision to ensure the energy security for our country and a vision to reduce the cost of that energy so that the manufacturing sector, the agricultural sector and the tourism sector can be viable players in a very tough world environment. Why we want them to be viable players is because we know that they are the ones that create the jobs for our fellow Australians that allow them to run sustainable households in a manner where they control their destiny rather than the government controlling their destiny.


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (14:11): I ask a supplementary question, Mr President. In terms of energy infrastructure, since renewable energy is going to go down in price and fossil fuel energy is going to increase in price, how are you going to guarantee cheap energy in the future by abolishing the very processes and renewable energy agencies and climate corporations that support the infrastructure of the future?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:12): As with all things, the coalition adopts the moderate approach in these matters. We are not the fanatics that the Australian Greens seem to represent in this place. This government does in fact believe in renewable energy but we say take it in steps in a manner that does not mug the economy, as the carbon tax did, continues to do and will continue to do until the Senate agrees to abolish it—something which the Australian people overwhelmingly voted for on 7 September. You can shake your head, Senator Milne, but I think a lot of people on 7 September were motivated by a desire to get rid of the Labor-Green government that was ruining this country and their cost of living and their desire to rid the nation of a carbon tax which they saw as being emblematic of increasing their cost of living and ruining— (Time expired)


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (14:13): Mr President, I have another supplementary question. The Treasurer has said that the cost of acting now—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Milne is entitled to be heard in silence when asking her question. Order! When there is silence I will give Senator Milne the call. Senators Cameron, Bernardi and Conroy.

Senator MILNE: The Treasurer has said that the cost of acting now is less than the cost of acting later but was referring to road building, not the climate. What is the cost to the nation of failing to invest in public transport and rail?




Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:14): I am not sure what that question is all about and how it relates to other matters on renewable energy, but the Australian Greens can ask whatever they like. The simple fact is that you will have to wait another 5¼ hours, and the Treasurer will get onto his hind feet and deliver an excellent budget which will guarantee the future of our country. You will then see that we have a vision for this country, unlike that which the Labor-Green governments were able to deliver.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Abetz, you might resume your seat momentarily. When there is silence, I will ask Senator Abetz to continue, but not until then. Senator Abetz, continue.

Senator ABETZ: In the 19 seconds remaining, I simply ask the Leader of the Australian Greens to remain patient and wait. It is now less than 5¼ hours until the delivery of the budget, when she will see that this is a government that is committed to the long-term future of our country and the next generations in particular.