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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 1067

Dr HENDY (Eden-Monaro) (15:41): I rise in support of the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013. During the whole of the campaign in the year leading up to the election on 7 September, the abolition of the carbon tax was one of the key campaign issues in Eden-Monaro. I told the electorate that if I were elected the first principal speech I would make after the election, after my maiden speech, would be on the abolition of the carbon tax, and that is why I am rising to speak today. So this was an issue that was central to the policy debate in Eden-Monaro over the last three years but especially in the last five weeks of the election campaign. Everyone on this side who has spoken has informed or re-informed the House that, in the 2010 election—indeed, it was on 16 August 2010, just five days before the election—former Prime Minister Gillard said, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' And the member for Lilley, who at that stage was the Treasurer of Australia, said on 15 August: 'No, it is not possible that we are bringing in a carbon tax. That is a hysterically inaccurate claim being made by the coalition.' The fact is that the election was a referendum on the carbon tax. The coalition won with a mandate to abolish it, and that is what we are doing here today and I hope it will pass the Senate once it has passed the House of Representatives.

As you will know, Mr Deputy Speaker Scott, I am an economist by profession. In fact, I am proud to say that I am a Commonwealth Treasury trained economist. I am also a former chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and, as such, I know about economics from a business point of view as well. And I know that the carbon tax does not work as an economic concept. I know that there are a lot of economists around Australia and in other parts of the world who say, 'The carbon tax is the best economic alternative to deal with emissions reduction, to deal with the climate change issue.' But, frankly, they are not right, because they do not take account properly of the international marketplace. And the fact is that a carbon tax, an emissions trading scheme, will not work unless there is a comprehensive treaty arrangement across the world of the major emitters such that they all implement a carbon tax at the same time, basically at the same carbon price. It will not work. And the reason is because the market—the business community across the world—will game the system.

We are basically the only country in the world with a comprehensive carbon tax; we all know that. We know that the scheme in Europe is only a partial emissions trading scheme across the carbon production sectors of the economy of Europe. We know that what is being done in the US is an infinitesimally small part of the emissions-producing part of the sector in the United States. We know that in China—people have been talking about China today—it is only an infinitesimally small part of the Chinese economy that is producing emissions. If you do not have a comprehensive international agreement, a carbon tax in Australia does not work.

That is why we have proposed that it be abolished, that is why we have a direct action plan that will, in a market based system—what we call a 'reverse auction' system—actually fund those programs that will work to reduce emissions. That is why we are setting up an emissions reduction fund. That is the way to go about dealing with the climate change issue, because that will be a system that will work—to fund directly emissions reduction initiatives—as opposed to a carbon tax, which will only damage the Australian economy and not help it. I support the bill.