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Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Page: 5269

Carbon Pricing


Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (14:24): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on the government's efforts to undertake vital reform in tackling climate change and delivering the National Broadband Network?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:24): I thank the member for Robertson for her question and for her high quality advocacy in this parliament of the needs and interests of her constituents. The member has directed to me a question which raises two reform areas important to keeping our economy strong. We want Australians to have the benefits of a strong economy and we particularly want Australians to have the benefit of being able to get a job. That is why we are proud that 750,000 jobs have been created since the government was first elected, and we look forward to the creation of half a million more over the next couple of years.

Keeping your economy strong always requires you to have a continuing reform agenda, to keep walking the reform road. We are engaged in reforms which are important to keeping our economy strong. Putting a price on carbon is important to keeping our economy strong and ensuring that we have the clean energy jobs of the future. Last week I received the report of the Climate Commission entitled The critical decade. It said unambiguously that the science was in. Today I received the report of Professor Garnaut, and he says in his report unambiguously that pricing carbon is an economic reform where the benefits far outweigh the costs. He tells us a fixed price followed by a carbon trading scheme is the best path forward to reduce the dangers of climate change without damaging the prosperity of the Australian nation. He talks about how pricing carbon is the lowest cost way of tackling climate change and dealing with carbon pollution. I know that those opposite dispute the science and do not believe in climate change, and I know they refuse to look in a serious way at the works of serious economists like Professor Garnaut, but that is what Professor Garnaut has found.

Continuing to keep our economy strong also means we need to have access to the infrastructure that our competitor nations will have, and that is national broadband that enables us to move information at the same speed that people are moving it in the economies with which we compete. The construction of the NBN is only the first step in that reform journey to make sure that we have the productivity benefits that come with this new technology. That is why, today, the government released the digital economy plan. It is a roadmap of how we will build the digital economy and a key part of that is how we will aim to be one of the top five OECD nations for the use and take-up of broadband by 2020. It contains important measures so that we can support small businesses and not-for-profit organisations in the first 40 communities to fully utilise the opportunities that the NBN brings, and we will also be investing in education to make sure that students, whether they be in schools or TAFEs or universities, have the full benefit of the National Broadband Network. In all of these reforms, whether it is climate change or the NBN, we will focus on the facts—we will not allow ourselves to be distracted by the diversions—and we will always act in the national interest.