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Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Page: 7588

Carbon Pricing

Mr ADAMS (Lyons) (14:52): My question is to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and IndigĀ­enous Affairs. How will the government help families and pensioners play their part in taking action on climate change, and how would other approaches impact on families and pensioners?

Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) (14:52): I thank the member for Lyons for his question because he knows that each and every one of us has a responsibility to act on climate change. He and everyone on this side of the House, and one or two over there as well, knows that it is in the interests of our country, in the interests of our economy but, of course most importantly, in the interests of our children. We believe, on this side of the House, that it is big polluters who should pay. Big polluters should pay for their pollution; not families and not pensioners.

Under our plan to price carbon every one of the 3.4 million Australian pensioners will receive assistance that will cover the average cost of a price on carbon. They will receive real and permanent increases to their pensions. The same will go for those self-funded retirees who are on a Commonwealth seniors health card. They, too, will receive the level of assistance that people on a pension will get. Those self-funded retirees who are on a Commonwealth seniors health card will get the same level of assistance as someone on a pension.

Because we believe that it is the big polluters who should pay for their pollution, we do not believe it should be Australian families and we will be providing assistance to those families. Nine out of 10 families will receive help through our household assistance arrangements and that will particularly mean that low- and middle-income families will get help to cover the cost of expected average price rises. Of course, as the Prime Minister has indicated, we will provide a 20 per cent buffer, so three million low-income families will get assistance over and above any expected average increases in prices. One of the good things for pensioners and for families will, of course, be that they will get these payments directly into their bank accounts. They will not have to make complicated arrangements and there will be no queues to worry about. This assistance will go straight to them.

We know that we do need to take these serious actions to help families play the role that they want to play to tackle climate change. By contrast, of course, those opposite are not the faintest bit serious about dealing with climate change. What we see from this Leader of the Opposition is all stunts. Every single day another stunt; no substance whatsoever.

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will resume her place. The member for Mackellar on a point of order.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: Mr Speaker, on a point of order. I refer you to page 553 in the Practice and the statement that it is engaging in irrelevancies to contrast government and opposition policies. That is under the old paradigm. Under the new paradigm, it is clearly out of order and I would ask you to either return to the question or sit down.

The SPEAKER: As I indicated to the member for Mackellar when we were under the old paradigm, Practice goes on to say a few other things that go to being able to contrast and the like.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Mackellar stretches people's ability and capacity to put up with the disrespect of a lot of things. But, if she wishes to publicly display her disrespect for the chair by interjecting at the time that I am making a response to her point of order, she has to understand that there are consequences. The consequence on this occasion is a warning, and I again stress that a warning is a precursor to a naming. I am indicating to her that in the previous parliament when she rose on similar points of order under the old paradigm, quoting Practice, there could be greater extracts from Practice that could dictate the conclusions that I could reach. I have indicated that I dislike the ability to have debate in either the question or the response. I have urged, over the last two parliaments now, the Procedures Committee to have a look at this and I hope at some stage they do, because then it will become question and answer. But in this case the minister is responding. She is now in conclusion.

Ms MACKLIN: It is quite clear that the Leader of the Opposition wants Australian families to actually pay $720 to polluters. That is what the Leader of the Opposition wants to do and, even worse, he wants to claw back—

The SPEAKER: Order! The minister will bring her answer to a conclusion.

Ms MACKLIN: the benefits that this government will provide to families and pensioners.