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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5554

Carbon Pricing


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:00): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Today marks the second anniversary of the Labor Prime Minister's solemn promise to the Australian people that 'there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead'.

Government senators interjecting—

The PRESIDENT: Order!

Senator ABETZ: Very touchy, aren't they?

The PRESIDENT: Senator Abetz, you are entitled to be heard in silence. Order on my right! Senator Abetz, like anyone in this place, is entitled to be heard in silence. Senator Abetz, continue.

Senator ABETZ: Thank you, Mr President. Today marks the second anniversary of the Labor Prime Minister's solemn promise to the Australian people that 'there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead'. Does the minister agree that this broken promise is now easily the Prime Minister's best-known quotation, that it is seen by Australians as the defining statement of her prime ministership, that it constitutes Australia's most infamous political betrayal and that her own personal and her government's legacy will be forever besmirched by the false statement she shamelessly made five days before the 2010 election?






Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:01): Mr President, Senator Abetz is just full of rhetoric. There is no substance to his question. There is no interest in the big policy questions of the day. This is an opposition who have no relevance to anyone. They have nothing to say about the big policy questions facing Australia and here they are asking a question about the second anniversary. I thought they asserted that yesterday.

Government sena t ors interjecting—

Senator CHRIS EVANS: They cannot even get the date right, apparently. Not only can't the tactics committee come up with a sensible question but the best they can do is convince themselves: as they all sat around they said, 'This is brilliant question. This is a real killer. Everyone's going to love all that political rhetoric.' Well, I don't know; I haven't met anyone on the street or at the footy or at my kids' sport who is interested in that nonsense. They are not interested in that.

Honourable sena t ors interjecting—

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Evans, resume your seat. Order on both sides!

Senator CHRIS EVANS: I could equally talk about how it is one year since the shadow finance minister made clear that there was a $70 billion black hole in the Liberal Party's costings. One year ago, and apparently it is the anniversary. Happy anniversary! But I suspect those listening would say, 'What's that got to do with anything? It's just like Senator Abetz's question.' They want to know what is happening with the NDIS, they want to know what is happening with the cost of living, they want to know what is happening with their health and they want to know what is happening with the education services that the Commonwealth provides.

Senator Cormann: That is pretty brazen. That is pretty arrogant. What is the Prime Minister doing?

Senator CHRIS EVANS: Senator, we have had a lot of arrogance from you guys in the last two days. Mr President, the opposition would be better served by focusing on policy on how we meet the great challenges that Australia faces, rather than by convincing themselves they sound brilliant with that really shallow rhetoric.







Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:03): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer the minister to the words of Ms Gillard in 2005, and listen to this:

… the Labor Party is the party of truth telling . When we go out into the electorate and make promises, do you know what we would do in government: we would keep them.

Was Ms Gillard's promise that there will be no carbon tax an example of her truth-telling?


Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:04): It is a shame. I think Senator Abetz did not take my advice and continued to ask his prewritten supplementary question which had been carefully crafted in the tactics committee, because they had found a quote from 2005 and they had thought, 'This is the killer. We'll ask them about something the Prime Minister said in 2005.' So it is seven years ago and somehow this is important to Australians; somehow this is of vital interest to Australians. What we know is this parliament has introduced a price on carbon that will set up Australia for dealing with the threat of climate change and the need of our economy to adapt to that. We have acted, we have delivered good policy and the Australian people and the Australian economy will reap the benefit of that for many years—and we know that the Liberal Party will never ever rescind that legislation.


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:05): I can put the leader out of his misery. We will repeal the carbon tax if the Australian people give us a mandate to do so. My further supplementary question is: was the Prime Minister similarly engaged in truth-telling when she promised loyalty to Prime Minister Rudd, a citizens assembly, cash for clunkers, offshore processing on East Timor and many other issues? This is an issue that goes to the honesty and integrity of the government.


Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:06): Mr President, I was tempted to go to Godwin Grech—but I won't—when we think about honesty and appropriate behaviour because Senator Abetz reminds me of his own behaviour. I think the Australian people, as I said earlier, are more interested in focusing on the issues that confront them. We know the Liberal Party once supported a price on carbon. They negotiated a deal with us. They ratted on that deal as a result of a party room coup that was won by one vote when Andrew Robb ratted on his leader. What we know is John Howard, in 2007, said we needed to price carbon. What we also know is the right-wing Luddites inside the Liberal Party decided to reverse that sound public policy. The carbon price will serve Australia well and we all know the Liberal Party will never rescind that carbon price because it is good public policy. (Time expired)