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Subjects: Carbon price; Clean energy future; Coal industry; Afghanistan; Qantas

PM: I'm here in the federal electorate of Charlton with Greg Combet, who's here as local member,
but of course as the Minister for Climate Change as well, and I'd like to say a very big thank you
to the people at Centennial, the mine that we are at.

We're had the opportunity to talk today to people who work in this coal mine and we've had the
opportunity to address some of their fears. Clearly, a lot of nonsense has been spoken about the
future of coal mining as we price carbon. There's a lot of fear around because people have been
told that coal mining won't have a future if we move to price carbon.

Both Greg and I have been here today to talk to the workers in this mine and to assure them coal
mining's got a great future in this country.

When we put a price on carbon pollution on 1 July next year, on average, for the mining of coal,
that will mean a cost of less than $2 a tonne of coal. This is against a backdrop where coal price
have doubled from $150 a tonne to $300 a tonne. This is an industry now where businesses are making
profits in the order of $1 million per worker. There's a lot of money to be made in coal mining.

There are some coal mines, including the one that we're at today, that produce more carbon
pollution than others - gassy mines - and we will be working with mines like this one through our
$1.3 billion package for the coal industry. I've been able to speak to the working people here
today, to the men who go and mine coal, and say to them that they can be secure in the knowledge
that they've got a future working here at this mine and if their sons want to follow them to this
industry, then they will have a future coal mining, too.

In this community as well, clearly people would be thinking about what does carbon pricing mean for
them and their cost of living, and I've answered some questions today from the workers here about
what it will mean for them and their families, and some who are approaching retirement, what it
will mean for them when they retire.

In this local community here, in Greg's federal electorate, around 45,000 people will get tax cuts;
around 45,000 people will see an increase in their pension or family payments. When we look at all
of those figures, what that means is for someone earning up to $80,000 a year they'll see a tax
cut, with most receiving tax cuts of $300. For people who have got kids, they'll see increases of
family payments, up to $110. For pensioners, they'll see an increase if they're a single pensioner
of $338, a pensioner couple $510. Indeed, for the 1.8 million pensioner households around the
country, they'll come out $210 in front. That is, they'll get more assistance than they need to
meet the price impacts that will flow through from us putting a price on carbon pollution - and the
increase in the cost of living will be less than one per cent, less than one cent in a dollar.

Now, I'm very aware that around the country are concerned about pricing carbon. There's been a lot
of fear raised. There's been a lot of inaccurate things said. It's important that as I move round
the country, and as Minister Combet does, and the Labor team, that we're talking to people about
their fears and concerns. Australians are bright people, they're smart people, they will work
through the information and I'm very determined that they get access to the accurate information
they need.

Can I conclude by saying a big thanks to this mine for having us here today, to Centennial, a big
thanks to the coal miners that have had a chat today. I thank them very much for raising with me
what's on their mind and I'm very clear that I can look them in the eye and assure them there's a
great future in coal mining here and around the nation.

We're happy to take your questions.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you say there's a lot of nonsense around, and a fear about the future
coal mining, but do you blame that more on Tony Abbott, or more on Bob Brown?

PM: Well, I certainly blame a lot of the fear on the very false and misleading claims that Mr
Abbott has made. I mean, let's just go through the list. Mr Abbott was out telling Australians
they'd be paying 6.5 cents more per litre of petrol - completely wrong.

Then he was out telling Australians we wouldn't make steel in this country any more, that Whyalla
and Port Pirie would be wiped off the map - once again completely wrong. We've worked with the
steel industry and you've seen both the employers and the employees in the steel industry say that
they can work with carbon pricing.

And then Mr Abbott's been out claiming that there's no future for coal in this country. He did that
wearing a Peabody mining jacket, and Peabody, a huge company, since we've announced our plans to
price carbon pollution, has announced that it's interested in the biggest ever takeover of an
Australian coal company because it knows there's a great future in coal mining.

Now, of course Senator Brown said things about the future of the coal industry, too, which I don't
agree with. Coal's got a great future in this country. It's got a great future as we price carbon
pollution and do the right thing by our environment and the right thing to keep our economy strong
and to get the clean energy jobs of the future.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, could I get you to comment please on Peter Leahy's comments that
Australia is only running half a strategy in Afghanistan, and that time is running out. Do you have
any response to that?

PM: I've seen those comments in today's newspaper. Can I start by saying first and foremost I am
full of respect for anyone who served with our Defence Force and obviously full of respect for
anyone who has served at such senior levels as Chief of the Army.

On the current strategy in Afghanistan, what I can say to Mr Leahy and to Australians generally is
we are working a comprehensive strategy. Here in Australia through our National Security Committee
we co-ordinate across all relevant arms of government, so what we're doing in Defence is
co-ordinated with what we're doing through the aid program, which is co-ordinated through the legal
support that we're providing through the Attorney-General's Department and so on.

Actually, in Oruzgan province, where our Defence Force is deployed, they work in a combined team
that brings together Defence personnel with civilian representatives, including aid workers, so
there is co-ordination in the strategy.

So, here we'll keep the right decision-making structures to make sure the strategy is co-ordinated.
On the ground in Oruzgan in Afghanistan the team works combined, civilians and Defence personnel
working together on a co-ordinated strategy.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, should Centennial be able to pass on its carbon tax costs to the power
station?

PM: Look, I'll get Greg to address that, but just to make sure people understand the specifics
about this mine, of course this is a mine that produces some coal for export, but it also produces
coal that's used in the local power station, and so the arrangements between the mine and the power
station are important.

For the people who flick on the lights and use power, we have of course factored in a 10 per cent
increase in power costs, which is what we expect to happen, into the household assistance package.

So, people will see tax cuts and family payment increases and pension increases to deal with the
full cost of living pass through, which we expect to be less than one per cent, relying on the same
expert advice that guided the nation when the GST came into effect. That expert advice was right
then and I'm full of confidence it will be right now.

Greg might want to say something specific about this mine and this area.

MINISTER COMBET: There are several things that are important when you're thinking about the carbon
price liability of a mine like this. One of them is its contractual ability to pass through costs
to the electricity generators that it supplies coal to, and of course that's a feature of the terms
of the contract and I'm in discussions with Centennial Coal and with (inaudible) about that issue,
but it is a contract term that's important.

The second issue that's important for a mine like this, though, is the $1.3 billion in assistance
that the Government has put aside for coal mines that have high methane levels and Mandalong is one
of those, so that will be important for the future of this mine as well.

But, thirdly, is the investment in new technology to abate the methane emissions themselves and
Centennial Coal is working on technologies to reduce their methane emissions at the moment and
that's another thing that's important for the future of a mine like this.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, we've seen a lot of doom and gloom sort of messages from the Coal
Association that conflict with what you're saying this morning. Are they just deceiving people, or
are they misinformed, what's your take on those?

PM: I think the best thing when we're talking about the future of the coal industry is to look at
the actual reactions from coal companies. When we can see a big coal company like Peabody, having
heard everything about carbon pricing, decide that it's a great investment to see to take over an
Australian coal company, then what we're seeing is hard-headed business people who chase all the
dollars and cents down, who care about profits and the bottom line, saying to themselves 'gee,
there's a great future in coal mining in Australia.'

So, I think if we look at the actions of the people that make money out of coal, know about how to
make money out of coal, those actions speak for themselves: they clearly see a great future for
coal mining - as I do.

JOURNALIST: So, what's your take on the Coal Association advertisements?

PM: Well, look the Coal Association will have to speak for itself, but what I would say is there's
clearly a great future for coal mining. We're hearing that, we can see that, it's not a question of
hearing, we can see that with our own eyes by the actions of big coal companies.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you spoke to a number of workers inside, what were most of their
questions to you? And do you think you left that room and they were in support of the carbon tax?

PM: Look, because people have heard so many false claims, it's understandable people are anxious.
So, people were asking me what does pricing carbon mean for this mine? This mine's got a life in
front of it 20-25 years. What does it mean for this mine, and I was able to say to them, this mine
will continue to work for those 20-25 years, it'll continue to be here til the end of its
productive life.

Then they were asking me, 'well what does it mean for coal mining generally? My son might want to
be a coal miner. Will there be coal mining in this country?', and I was able to assure them coal's
got a great future in our nation.

And then a number asked me what it would mean for their cost of living and I was able to talk to
people about the tax cuts and family payment increases and the cost of living impact being less
than a cent in a dollar.

So, people will think that through and they'll make up their own minds, but I think it's important
people get the right information.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, coal has a great future, but can you one day in the future where coal
mines won't exist in this country?

PM: What I can see in the future of this country is we'll continue to mine coal and we'll see
developing the clean energy sources as well. So, if we look forward to how we're going to get power
in the future, we'll see power coming from solar and wind and geothermal and tidal. We'll see a
clean energy investment cycle turbo-charged by having put a price on carbon, and also by our
decisions to invest in the Clean Energy Finance Corporation with $10 billion available to make sure
we get the clean energy jobs and clean energy investments of the future. We'll be mining coal and
we'll be seeing energy from those clean sources.

JOURNALIST: So, did you guarantee workers this morning that not one job would be lost at this coal
mine?

PM: I was certainly able to say to them they'll be here mining coal as long as this mine lasts.

JOURNALIST: If I could just ask Mr Combet, sorry, Mr Combet, what's your electorate saying to you?
We know Tony Abbott, the very next day after the carbon tax details were announced, went to Joel
Fitzgibbon's seat and was warning of doom and gloom. What's your electorate saying to you on the
ground about the carbon tax?

MINISTER COMBET: Let's not forget, as the Prime Minister said, what happened the day after Tony
Abbott went warning of doom and gloom at a Peabody mine, Peabody announced a $4.7 billion takeover
of Macarthur Coal.

Tony Abbott has been putting on one of the most unprincipled display in Australian political life -
putting fear into people's minds about their jobs, and his words were that there'd be unimaginable
cost of living increases.

All of it's wrong. He forecast a rise in petrol prices - wrong. He's forecast the end of the coal
industry - wrong. He forecast the end of the steel industry - wrong. He forecast an unimaginable
price increase - wrong. It's only a 0.7 per cent increase in prices, in consumer prices, and
there's a strong household assistance package that the Prime Minister's outlined.

I think what's ahead of us here is the Government will just continue to go about and explain to
people calmly and rationally what carbon pricing is about; that it will be environmentally
effective; that we will be able to cut pollution, drive investment in clean energy, support
households at the same time and make sure we assist important industries like the coal industry
along the way.

Now, Tony Abbott's going to be shown up to have engaged in widespread misrepresentation and deceit
and the people in my electorate here have heard the same sort of messages and I'm spending as much
time as I can here, too, talking to people about the facts and when people hear the facts they
recognise that it's the right thing to do.

JOURNALIST: Mr Combet, have you submitted these costings to Treasury, and how confident are you of
the numbers that you're putting out to the media today?

MINISTER COMBET: Well, the Treasury has done all of the costings of the Government carbon price
package and the Treasury does independent modelling, comprehensive modelling, highly regarded
modelling, unimpeachable modelling.

It did it for other major reforms, like the GST, and of course it got it right, and we have
complete confidence in the modelling that Treasury has done and the numbers we're putting here
today are based upon that.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, are you confident that the Australian people will come around to the
carbon tax?

PM: This is a big reform, it's a tough reform and I warned that it would be tough and it would
probably get tougher. We have seen Tony Abbott out there trying to make people afraid.

Ultimately, I believe Australians will judge this when they see it in operation on 1 July next
year, when they wake up on 1 July and they see that there are benefits flowing through to them and
their families through tax cuts and family payment increases. There will be people who are
currently in the tax system now, who because we triple the tax-free threshold as part of all of
this, won't have to pay tax anymore. There'll be a million Australians who do a tax return now, who
won't have to do a tax return any more. People will be able to go to work and see what it means for
their workplaces, they'll be able to see what it means for our nation, as we price carbon
pollution.

So, Australians will decide for themselves and they'll vote in 2013, but they'll be able to make
that decision having seen carbon pricing in operation and having seen so many of these false claims
shown up as just fear mongering.

JOURNALIST: It's not making you very popular though, is it?

PM: This is the right decision for the nation's future. I said in a speech in New South Wales not
that long ago, democracy's not one long opinion poll - democracy's about making the decisions today
which will mean tomorrow we will be stronger and better.

To make that decision today is to make a decision to put a price on carbon pollution. I'm here as
Prime Minister to show the leadership we need on those tough decisions.

Thanks very much.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, can I have one last question, please?

PM: Yeah - you were so polite. Teach something to your Canberra colleagues.

JOURNALIST: Are you concerned with the escalation of the Qantas pilots situation?

PM: Look, in all situations of industrial disputes and talks, my message is always that these
things best get solved when people sit round a table in good faith and work it through.

JOURNALIST: And are you likely to force the two parties to arbitration?

PM: We have a Fair Work system. As people would probably remember I went to hell and back to get
rid of Tony Abbott's Work Choices, as did the man standing alongside me. The Fair Work system has
its mechanisms to help people work through in circumstances of dispute.

Thank you.

MINISTER COMBET: Thanks a lot.

[ENDS]