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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 173

Mr HOCKEY (2:08 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to his claim on Meet the Press, the week before the election, where he said that any carbon tax under a future Gillard government was just ‘an hysterical allegation’ which Labor ‘certainly rejects’. Treasurer, if you said this just one week before the election and you made this commitment on behalf of the government, how can any Australian trust you now that you have broken that commitment just a few weeks after the election?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —I thank the honourable member for his question. It is the case that for a long time the government have had the ambition and also the goal of putting a price on carbon. That is not disputed and I reiterated that at great length during the last election campaign. But we know what happened in the last election campaign: those opposite said that not only did they not believe in the science of climate change but also they proposed to do nothing about it. We said that we would seek community consensus on this critical question, that we would come to this question with an open mind. And we do come to this question with an open mind.

Those opposite once believed in a price on carbon and they believed in it in this parliament for two years plus. The member for Wentworth led that charge until it was voted down in this House by the now Leader of the Opposition, and voted down in the Senate three times. As we go forward, we must do the right thing by our society and our economy. Business certainty, job creation and our future prosperity demand that we deal with this very important question. We will deal with it by finding community consensus. What the member opposite wants to do in this debate is to reach a conclusion. The government will go through this multiparty process with other members of parliament with an open mind to find a solution in the national interest. Those opposite think it is in their political interest at the moment to make these points.

We will not be deterred from pursuing the national interest. The national interest and a prosperous economy demand that we deal with this. Business certainty demands that we deal with this. You have already seen an investment strike when it comes to investment in power stations. We must deal with this. You have seen the statements from the business community and you have seen the statements from Mr Kloppers. They all indicate that the future of our economic prosperity means that as a parliament and as a community we must deal with this very important question. This multiparty committee that has been put together is part of finding the common ground between us and the Independents and the minor parties—and, of course, the common ground that exists with some on the other side of the House who are not game to speak up at the moment. We will not be deterred by a scare campaign. We will put the national interest first. The national interest demands that as a nation and as a community we deal with this important question, not the short-term political interests of those opposite.

Mr Hockey —Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table the transcript from Meet the Press, a week before the election, where the Treasurer ruled out a carbon price.

The SPEAKER —Is leave granted? Leave is not granted.