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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6288

Carbon Pricing

Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (14:45): My question is to the Minister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Why is it important for local communities to be provided with factual information in the debate over climate change? How is the government addressing any incorrect information about climate change and the carbon price introduction?

Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:45): I thank my colleague the member for Moreton for his question because factual information in this debate about climate change and carbon pricing is extremely important, especially when there is a deceitful campaign being run against it, with misleading claims being made that cause people to feel fearful, that cause anxiety and cause insecurity that is completely unjustified. It is very important for local communities to hear the facts. We have heard numerous misrepresentations from those opposite, especially from the opposition leader. We have already heard some instances in question time today relating to the issue of local government. We have heard about the fact that Gladstone is going to be destroyed! We have also heard claims that Whyalla will be wiped off the map.

It is not commonly known, but the opposition leader has essentially forecast that the coal industry will cease to operate from 1 July. In fact, nearly $100 billion of investment is coming into the industry. We have heard of unimaginable price increases and that the household assistance will not be permanent or ongoing and will not be indexed. All of that is completely fallacious and deceitful.

Last week, questions were asked about an announcement by Norsk Hydro in relation to the Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter. It was falsely claimed by the opposition that this was attributable to carbon pricing. It is very important that members of the public get the facts about these issues. This is a facility in my own region in the Hunter Valley. A person—a member of the public—has contacted my office and indicated her concern about this issue. She indicated that she has contacted the company to ask for a reply about the causes of the closure of the aluminium smelter. She received a reply from Mr Halvor Molland, who is the vice-president of Norsk Hydro. He said to her, 'I am sorry to see you have based your opinion on Foxtel news and not on what Hydro actually have said.' He went on:

We have been quite specific, saying that the carbon tax is not the reason—but shorter term market conditions and the macro-economic environment.

The decision to initiate consultation with a view to close the aluminium production at Kurri Kurri would have been the same—with or without the carbon tax.

He said, 'But unfortunately our announcement on Wednesday has sparked a political debate outside our control, where the carbon tax is in the middle.' He went on:

Fact is that Kurri Kurri is already losing significant amount of cash every month—before any carbon tax has been implemented.

It is deceit. It is fraud. It needs to be corrected, and you should apologise.