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Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Page: 8147

Carbon Pricing

Mr SYMON (Deakin) (14:58): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister outline the government's plans to undertake nation-building reform to deliver a clean energy future? What are the challenges to these plans and how will the government overcome them to deliver the right reforms for the nation?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:58): I thank the member for his question on pricing carbon. Since the parliament last sat, the government has announced a plan to put a price on carbon, to cut carbon pollution, to cut taxes, to increase pensions and to increase family payments. We will bring that plan, in the form of legislation, to this parliament during this parliamentary session and it will be through the parliament before the end of this year. That means that we will be able to put a price on carbon from 1 July next year.

During the winter recess I have had the great privilege of moving around Australia and talking to many Australians about our plans to put a price on carbon. I have talked to Australians in all sorts of circumstances, in community meetings, in shopping centres, at morning teas, at factories and at mines right around the country, and what I have found is, yes, there is a high degree of concern but people do want to know the facts about putting a price on carbon. They also want to understand what it will do to deliver a clean-energy future. As I have moved around the country talking to Australians in this wide variety of circumstances, I have been in a position to talk to them about the natural advantages our nation has for a clean energy future. We are a country with abundant sources of renewable and clean energy. We are a country with abundant sources of solar power, wind power, geothermal power and tide power, and I have had the opportunity around the country not only to talk to Australians about this clean energy future but to see also some innovative new projects that are already generating energy out of clean and renewable sources. All up, consequently having had these discussions, I have seen with my own eyes the way that the new clean energy sources can create more jobs and higher skills, how they can create more investment in innovation, and how they can ensure that pollution goes down and not up. This is a reform that will attract investment to Australia and that is a great outcome for our country.

Of course, undertaking this reform was never going to be easy. But government is not about doing what is easy; it is about doing what is right for the nation's future. It is right for our future to create a clean energy future. Because we are a Labor government, as we have gone about this reform we have ensured that the assistance that will flow to households will particularly flow to those Australians who need it the most. People will see tax cuts, pension increases and increases in family payments, and Australians who need that assistance most will see more of that assistance.

What this does mean is that there is a major tax reform associated with this clean energy future. It will enable people to more directly see the benefits of the work they do and it will mean that a million Australians no longer need to fill in a tax return. This is good news for Australians making the journey from welfare to work. It is good news for Australians who are second-income earners and making a decision to return to the workforce.

So we are facing up to the big challenges of the future. Tackling climate change is a challenge that needs to be taken seriously. You need to be there explaining the facts to people, not making wild assertions. You need to be there telling people consistently what this means—the same message to people every day rather than saying different things to different audiences. I have enjoyed doing that during the parliamentary recess and I look forward to continuing it as we move to pricing carbon on 1 July.