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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 178

Mr ZAPPIA (2:29 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Why is it important to build consensus around the need to take action on climate change?

Mr COMBET (Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) —I thank the member for Makin for his question. The starting point for consideration of policy in the area of climate change is the climate science. The scientists are telling us that carbon pollution is contributing to climate change. The government respects the science. To have a strong economy we need to have a sustainable environment. That means we need to start reducing our carbon pollution levels. In this area the government has three priorities: first, to continue our strong support for renewable energy investments; secondly, to promote energy efficiency; and, thirdly, to work towards the introduction of a carbon price.

The most efficient way to reduce carbon pollution levels, as the House has heard on many occasions before, is through a market mechanism and in particular the development of a carbon price. A carbon price is a key economic reform that is in this nation’s interests. It will provide an incentive to reduce pollution levels. It will unlock investment in renewable energy. It will unlock investment in low-emissions technologies. It will generate certainty for business investment. It will position this country well for our long-term economic competitiveness. The Treasury had this to say about this particular issue in the blue book that was released in recent days:

The introduction of a pricing regime will support strong long-term growth by steadily transforming the economy instead of imposing sharp, more costly adjustments in the future. This is a key economic reform in respect of which it is important that we build consensus for such a public policy position.

In that respect, as the Prime Minister reported in an earlier answer, the government has established the multiparty climate change committee to help achieve that consensus for this important change. The Greens and the Independents are taking a responsible position in relation to this committee and, of course, the coalition has been invited in good faith to participate in the multiparty climate change committee where all ranges of options will be properly considered. A carbon price is mainstream economic thinking. If the opposition need some guidance on that, I would refer them to the editorial in the Australian Financial Review today which addresses that. They do not get it right all the time, but they are certainly on the money today and I would recommend consideration of it. All that we see from the opposition on this issue is pure opportunism, wrecking this consensus. You should act in the national interest to contribute to this debate about the introduction of a carbon price. It is an important economic reform needed in our country. Play a constructive role.

The SPEAKER —Order! I remind the minister to address his remarks through the chair, and to members on my left who continue to interject: it would be best if they listen to the answers and then use other opportunities in the parliamentary processes to ventilate their grievances with what is being said.