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Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Page: 6106

Senator THORP (Tasmania) (15:16): I sometimes think that on the issue of carbon pricing and how to deal with global warming we have the most clear and striking contrast between the attitudes of the people opposite and the people on my side in this place. There is a very stark contrast.

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting

Senator THORP: I am glad to see that even some of the flat-earthers have been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century to recognise that global warming is a significant issue in our country—in fact, in the whole world. Where I live is a coastal region surrounded by areas like Clifton Beach, Sandford and Lauderdale. Work done by our local council, the Clarence City Council, has shown that the dangers of inundation on our coast are very real and significant, particularly dangers coming from storm surges. We are dealing with a very serious problem. It is quite disconcerting to have it trivialised so much by those people opposite. At least the government is taking very sensible action in trying to do something about this serious threat. We are not doing it by imposing a debt of $1,300 on every household in Australia and then handing that money over to the big polluters to spend as they will in some bizarre hope that, if given extra money, they will cut their pollution. No, that is not how Labor is addressing it. Labor is addressing it by making sure that the big polluters have an incentive to change their behaviour and reduce their carbon emissions by having a carbon price put on those emissions. It is a sensible and practical way to do it.

It is often said by members opposite that this is the world's biggest tax. In fact, Australia is in the middle of the pack in terms of global action on carbon pricing. The report The critical decade: international action on climate change found that 90 countries, representing 90 per cent of the global economy, have committed to reduce their carbon pollution and have policies in place to achieve those reductions. The Climate Commission concluded that by next year 850 million people will be living in countries or states with emissions trading schemes, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand and Switzerland. Those people opposite should be praising this government for taking sensible action on this issue rather than being so negative.

Senator Fifield: For lying?

Senator THORP: If you wish to use the word 'lie', this gives lie to the claim by the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, that we are only going to achieve a significant reduction in emissions if there is global action, and at the moment there is no sign whatsoever that the rest of the world is going to do things like introduce carbon taxes or emissions trading schemes. If there is a lie, there is the lie. What will the coalition's Direct Action policy take us to? It will destroy our international competitiveness, it will leave Australian businesses behind the rest of the world, it will make the essential task of reducing emissions even more difficult and costly for us and it will rip $1,000 out of the pockets of hardworking Australians, pensioners, students and families as you reduce—

Senator Ian Macdonald: You are as untruthful as your leader.

Senator THORP: Ha ha!

Senator Wong: Ignore him. He's completely irrelevant.

Senator THORP: I know. If the coalition get their way, it will be particularly painful for my state of Tasmania: 171,000 Tasmanian taxpayers may well lose their tax cut; 102,000 Tasmanians and 5,000 self-funded retirees will have money ripped out of their pockets if Tony Abbott rolls back carbon pricing; and a couple on the full age pension will have over $500 slashed from their pension under Mr Abbott's plan. What is most concerning to me is that this is a double whammy for Tasmania, because this is the same opposition that would, if in government, also rip $600 million per year from my state alone. I really wish the Leader of the Opposition in this place were present here because I am still waiting for a commitment from Mr Abetz that he will stand with his fellow Tasmanians, like yourself Mr Deputy President, to make sure that that cruel fate does not come to our state.