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Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Page: 8149

Carbon Pricing

Ms GRIERSON (Newcastle) (15:03): My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Will the minister please outline the government's plan to move to a clean energy future and the importance of doing so in the cheapest and most efficient way. What other options have been proposed and what is the government's response?

Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (15:04): I thank my colleague the member for Newcastle for her question. As the Prime Minister averted to earlier, on 10 July the government announced its plan for a clean energy future, which includes of course the introduction of a carbon price into our economy. This is a major economic and environmental reform. The plan will cut pollution and drive investment in clean energy, and at the same time we will assist households and of course support jobs. More than half of the revenue from the carbon price mechanism will be used to assist households. The assistance for households will be delivered by tax cuts and increases in the pension, family tax benefits and other government payments. In fact nine out of 10 households will receive some assistance. The carbon price mechanism is a market mechanism which is important to ensure that cutting pollution is achieved at least cost to Australian households and businesses. When emissions trading starts in July 2015, businesses will be able to access credible international carbon markets to ensure that we achieve the emissions reductions at lowest cost.

All of that stands in stark contrast to the policy of those opposite, which is a 'subsidies for polluters' scheme. The opposition would take money from households and pay polluters. There would be no assistance for households to meet those costs. In a recent policy development the Leader of the Opposition indicated that their policy would impose the highest cost possible on households and businesses. In a classic piece of policy on the run—say one thing to someone and another to someone else—the Leader of the Opposition has ruled out access for business to international carbon markets. This has very important implications. The carbon price will need to be much higher and the economic costs will be much higher. On the basis of access to international carbon markets the opposition's policy had previously been costed at $720 per household. With this latest development, no access to international carbon markets, the cost will now be $1,300 per household. A cost of $1,300 per household—take it from households, pay it to polluters; subsidies for polluters! There will not be any assistance for households under the coalition scheme. All of this for the sake of some populist drivel that we should not be trading with foreigners.

We have seen the Leader of the Opposition take his scientific advice on this issue from One Nation. Now he is taking his economic advice from them. He was at a rally today and Pauline Hanson was there. She has been in the gallery behind him again. She has probably gone off to write up a few notes for him. This positioning—one thing to one person—and these ridiculous, populist, antimarket economic propositions will cost the Australian people significantly. There is no better demonstration of the Leader of the Opposition's preparedness to say anything and do anything—he says one thing to Alan Jones and another thing to miners and someone else. The Leader of the Opposition goes around spreading fear and alarm through deliberate misrepresentation. You cannot trust his word.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order!

Mr Robert: Get a grip, Combet.

The SPEAKER: The member for Fadden will leave the chamber for one hour under standing order 94(a).

The member for Fadden then left the chamber.

The SPEAKER: There was some interest in me giving the call to the member for Sturt.