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Tuesday, 21 August 2012
Page: 5911

Carbon Pricing


Senator JOYCE (QueenslandLeader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:00): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Senator Wong. I refer the minister to her answer to a question from Senator Cormann yesterday in which she compared carbon pricing in Europe with that in Australia. Is the minister aware that under the European Union's ETS the EU expects to impose a 1,974 million tonnes of carbon cap on emissions in 2013? At current market prices of A$9.10 per tonne, the value of these permits would be $18 billion. Given that there are 512 million people in countries covered by the EU's ETS, this means that Europeans will pay just $35 per person in carbon taxes in 2013. In contrast, Labor expects to raise $7.7 billion in revenue from the sale of permits this financial year, equating to $340 per Australian. Does the minister accept that, in per person terms, Australia's carbon tax is at least nine times bigger than Europe's ETS?


Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:01): I certainly accept that the most expensive climate policy on offer is that which Senator Joyce supports, which is $1,300 per household every year—$1,300 every year in more tax as a result of the cost of your policy. So if the senator really cares about per capita or per household costs, perhaps he should explain to the electors—it is not New England, is it; whichever one he is going to get eventually in his mind—why it is that he supports a policy that will cost them more.

Senator Joyce: Mr President, I raise a point of order on relevance. The question is: does the minister accept in per person terms that Australia's carbon tax is at least nine times bigger than Europe's ETS? That is the question for the minister for sending people to Manus Island and Nauru.

The PRESIDENT: Order! I do draw the minister's attention to the question. The minister has one minute 20 seconds remaining.

Senator WONG: I know there is a lot of sookiness with the blokes on that side who do not like any scrutiny of their policy failure. Every time we mention the fact that their policy will cost more, they want to jump up and say, 'That is not relevant to the debate.' Well, the debate is about how you get to five per cent; that is the debate. We on this side have an economically responsible policy with tax cuts and additional benefits through the pension and family tax benefits system, all of which you oppose. You want to impose a higher cost on the economy, a higher cost on pensioners, a higher cost on families through your policy. In terms of the international situation, I would invite Senator Joyce to read the recent report from the Climate Commission which has been released, which concludes 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 their reduction. Many of these countries rely on a market-based mechanism and by next year around 850 million people will be living in a country, state or city with an emissions trading scheme, including countries like the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand and Switzerland. Those are the relevant international facts. I know that Senator Joyce does not want to acknowledge that. (Time expired)





Senator JOYCE (QueenslandLeader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:04): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Why does the minister persist in comparing Labor's carbon tax with countries that generate most of their electricity from renewable hydro sources? For instance, yesterday she compared us to Norway, which gets 98 per cent of its electricity from hydro, and with Sweden and Switzerland, which get 40 per cent of their electricity from nuclear? How does the minister defend her comparison to countries that are so unlike Australia, or is she proposing that we make new dams or build nuclear power plants?


Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:04): I am still reeling. I think it is relevant to get the facts on the table. You obviously disagree. I think it is relevant to get the facts on the table about the prices that are part of your policy, about the prices which are in place in other parts of the world and about the relative costs of the government's scheme versus your scheme. We do believe that is relevant. Those opposite may choose to ignore these facts. I know that the senator does regularly ignore these facts. But the reality is that the world is acting on climate change. The coalition are committed to the same policy objective. Senator Joyce might have missed that, but they have committed to the same policy objective. The difference is that their policy will cost families more.


Senator JOYCE (QueenslandLeader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:05): I have a further supplementary question, Mr President. I refer to the fact that the regional greenhouse gas initiative in the United States has just raised $6 per person for the year. The New Zealand government has forecast carbon revenues of less than $35 per person in 2012. China expects any carbon price to start below $2 a tonne. Can the minister name any country in the world which raises anywhere near $340 per person that Australia does, or are we just going to be stuck with the biggest carbon tax in the world?


Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:06): I certainly cannot name a country that has a price of $1,300 per household for every year for a decade, but that is what we have got on offer over there—$1,300 per household for every year out to 2020 to get to the same target as the government, just because those National Party members are running economic policy over there and the Liberal Party under Mr Abbott have walked away from a market mechanism and a price on carbon to a scheme funded by taxpayers, administered by bureaucrats and costing Australians more. That is the reality. That is the highest cost scheme on the planet.

Senator Joyce: Mr President, on a point of order on relevance. I have directly asked the question: can the minister name any country in the world that is going to pay more than $340 per person per year? I can understand why she would be upset with the National Party having its say. After all, from the Left of the doormats of the Labor Party, I can understand why she would be upset.

The PRESIDENT: Order! That is now debating it. There is no point of order. The minister has 27 seconds remaining.

Senator WONG: I do not accept the senator's figures. If he wants to go down the per capita route then he would know that we are also the highest per capita emitter of any advanced economy in the world. I would suggest to him that you cannot have it both ways if you want to go down the per capita route, and that is the reality. The more important issue is this: he has signed up to the same target. His policy costs families more.