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Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Page: 2933

Mr GEORGANAS (2:39 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Why is it important that Australia not be left behind in the international race to create clean energy? How will the government secure jobs and investment in the future?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Hindmarsh for his question. I know that he wants to see the people of his electorate live in a prosperous country with the jobs of the future. Ultimately, when you strip it all down and look at the debate about carbon pricing and climate change, where does it lead you? It leads you to whether you believe in facts or whether you believe in scaremongering; to whether you believe in hope or whether you believe in peddling fear. It also comes down to whether or not you are optimistic about the talents and capacities of the Australian people to adapt and to change and to lead that change or whether you are a pessimist, as the Leader of the Opposition is. The Leader of the Opposition believes the Australian people are not up to change. He actually must believe that the Australian people are not up to much. But the history of economic transformation in our country tells us to be optimistic about the Australian people and their talents and capacities. We have innovated before and we will innovate again. I am an optimist about this nation’s future. The best days lie in front of us, not behind us.

I know that on that side of the parliament they are mired in pessimism. They do not have faith in the Australian people—they do not have faith in their capacity for change. I have seen two things in the last week which have reinforced my hope and optimism in the creativity of the Australian people. I visited the Australian Solar Institute laboratories at the Australian National University. They are there at the cutting edge of research and development into solar technology. It is the kind of place that will lead to new technology, new innovations and great wealth for this country as the world moves to a cleaner energy future. This morning I went to the Capital wind farm at Bungendore, where I saw renewable energy technology operating and providing electricity and energy for our nation. I saw that happening. I met with two young people—two apprentices who are the first to do their apprenticeship at a wind farm. They are at the cutting edge themselves. Their names were Mark and Louie. Mark is from my electorate—he is from Diggers Rest—but he is there in Bungendore learning his trade on the energy of the future.

The opposition would have you believe that these innovations do not exist. They would have you believe that our researchers are not up to it. They would have you believe that our young people cannot adapt. These pessimistic beliefs are untrue. I have seen it with my own eyes this week, and we will see it every day in the future. What we will see with pricing carbon is that we will create an incentive for Australian businesses, Australian companies, Australian researchers and Australian designers to be there generating the clean energy of the future. This is a remarkable possibility for a creative, clever country. It is a remarkable possibility for a country with so many sources of clean energy. I am optimistic about that future, and I say to the Australian people: we should all be optimistic about the future and not give way to the denial, the fear and the pessimism about the future that the Leader of the Opposition peddles every day. We can do this. We will price carbon, and we will get those great clean energy opportunities in the days to come.

An opposition member—Hallelujah!

The SPEAKER —Whilst there are a couple of helpful dobbers on my right, I am just a little unsure. But I remind members that there are two people here who have been warned. I think I am reminding one in particular that the warning is a first step to naming and with the naming I will test whether I can get the support of the House in the punishment, so he should be very careful. Given that the other is a female we now know who I am talking about, and he should be very careful.