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Thursday, 3 November 2011
Page: 8204

Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (16:52): That was not Senator Birmingham's greatest contribution, I have to say. I think he went through a list of Labor senators and gave a long political diatribe about that. I think he asked me about the finances of the NBN. I declined, Mr Temporary Chairman, to raise the issue of relevance, though I am not sure what that had to do with any of the bills before us. He did raise two issues which I should respond to, the first in relation to carbon leakage, and I would make two points on that.

The first is that there is a very significant amount of assistance to industry to recognise the needs of industry through this transition, with a focus on supporting jobs, which includes a $9.2 billion Jobs and Competitiveness Program, a $1.2 billion Clean Technology Program, a $1.3 billion coal sector jobs package and a $300 million Steel Transformation Plan, the last of which I understand the senator will be voting against, notwithstanding his avowed concern for jobs.

The second point I would make on that issue is to quote the senator himself in his speech in November 2009 when he quoted Prime Minister Cameron—whom he then agreed with and now disagrees with—a Conservative Prime Minister who does believe that action on climate change is important and who believes in the role of carbon pricing.

Senator Cormann: He wasn't very supportive of the carbon tax.

Senator WONG: I am quoting Senator Birmingham. I am happy to quote you too, Senator Mathias Cormann. I have quotes about you too. He said:

But when I think about climate change and our response to it, I don’t think of doom and gloom, costs and sacrifice. I think of a cleaner, greener world for our children to enjoy and inherit. I think of the almost unlimited power of innovation, the new technologies, the new products and services, and the progress they can bring for our planet and all mankind. And I think of the exciting possibilities that may seem a distant dream today—changing the way we live to improve our quality of life. We’ve all got to get positive about climate change.

The senator went on to say:

I hope that is what we see from the government through this process.

What I would say to that, Senator, is that it is a pity we have not seen more from you on this process.

On the issue of global emissions, I think it is the same question as I have already answered from Senator Cormann.