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Monday, 21 February 2011
Page: 632

Mrs GASH (2:36 PM) —My question is to the Assistant Treasurer and acting Treasurer. Will the Assistant Treasurer inform the parliament why the government ruled out a carbon tax before the election, but will now impose a carbon tax which increases the price of petrol? Why was a carbon price out of the question in August 2010 but is now a necessary government priority?

Mr SHORTEN (Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation) —I thank the member for her question. In terms of climate change, there is no question that the government has to act to set a price on carbon. That has been very clear. What is more perplexing to me is the inability of the opposition to form a position on climate change. What we need in order to assert and put downward pressure on rising energy prices is to provide certainty with a price for carbon. That is why we have the position which we do. When we talk about certainty and we talk about climate change, I think it also reasonable to say that this government is very committed to certainty, unlike the opposition. We cannot even get certainty on who is running the opposition. Of course, I am referring to Samantha Maiden’s very interesting article, which I am holding up, with its characterisations of the various wannabe leaders of the opposition.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The minister knows he has to relate his answer to the question.

Mr SHORTEN —We have the poodle. No prizes for guessing who that is. We have the million-dollar man—

The SPEAKER —Order! The Assistant Treasurer will resume his seat.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. While it is amusing to hear the wannabe leader talk about wannabe leaders, it is hardly in order for him to use that prop.

The SPEAKER —Order! As the member for Sturt and the minister know, props are tolerated but not encouraged. I think the minister has got the general gist across of what he is wanting to show. The minister will answer the question.

Mr SHORTEN —All right, and I will not even go to who the rat is in the opposition.

The SPEAKER —The minister will return to the question.

Mr SHORTEN —You’d need a big bit of cheese in front of some of these frontbenchers.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —The member for Fadden! The member for Flinders! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition! The Assistant Treasurer has the call.

An opposition member interjecting—

The SPEAKER —The Assistant Treasurer will resume his seat. Regrettably, my radar is off. I do not know who made that statement, which I would have asked to have been withdrawn. The person can consider themselves lucky. It is not helpful at this stage. If you have had your fun, that is enough. The Assistant Treasurer has the call.

Mr SHORTEN —Stroke those whiskers! In terms of the issue of climate change, the only way to exert downward pressure on rising power prices is to set a price on carbon. The problem is—

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr SHORTEN —No, no, what we need is investor certainty. The real problem with fighting climate change is that the opposition are too busy fighting each other to do anything on climate change.

Mr McCormack interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Riverina is warned!