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Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Page: 7594

Carbon Pricing

Ms O'DWYER (Higgins) (15:21): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to her statement on 15 November 2010 that, 'The use of cars is a very considerable contributor to greenhouse gases. We want to make a difference to that.' But now, when selling her carbon tax, the Prime Minister says she will not do anything to cut these emissions because she knows that people 'have got no choice but to jump in their cars to get places'. Which of those statements is real and which is fake?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (15:21): The government is taking action on the question of carbon pollution and motor vehicles. We are doing that in what we think is a most appropriate way. First and foremost, in the recent budget—and, presum­ably, the member who asked the question looked at the recent budget—we made a change to the fringe benefits tax arran­gements. The arrangements we inherited had an artificial incentive for people to drive their cars further to get a tax advantage. All of us would have heard the stories from the community, and our friends and others would have heard the stories, of people who have spent every weekend in June driving their cars extraordinary distances for no purpose other than to trigger a move into a different fringe benefits tax arrangement. It was a dreadful scheme for the environment and something we addressed in the recent budget. During the election campaign we committed to mandatory fuel emission standards for 2015—

Mr Tony Smith interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Casey is warned.

Ms GILLARD: We are working to deliver those standards. We have also worked with the domestic car industry so that we are able to support jobs and to see greener vehicles manufactured in Australia. Many people faced a choice they did not want to make between buying Australian and supporting Australian jobs and—

Ms O'Dwyer: Mr Speaker, a point of order on relevance: the question went to which statement reveals the real Julia and which statement reveals the fake Julia.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Higgins should remember that there was much more in her question than she has raised in the point of order. The Prime Minister has been responding to the question. I do not think the House has been listening, because there seems to be a lot of chatter.

Mr Randall interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Canning can remove himself from the House under 94(a) for one hour.

The member for Canning then left the chamber.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Canning has been here long enough to know that there is no need for a warning to get one hour under 94(a). It would appear that he thinks this is a reward or something. The numbers leaving for an hour are extremely high. I would have hoped it would modify behaviour, but it does not appear to. The Prime Minister has the call.

Ms GILLARD: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I was asked about my statement about cutting emissions from cars, and I have been talking about the government's policies to do just that. I have just explained to the member for Higgins, who directed the question to me, that we have acted on fringe benefits tax anomalies that got people to drive their cars further, generating carbon pollution for no reason. We are acting in accordance with our election commitment on mandatory standards in 2015. We have acted by working with the Australian car industry so that we can support Australian jobs and so that people can have the choice of supporting the Australian industry whilst purchasing for themselves a greener vehicle. Many people did not like the fact that the only way to access a greener vehicle was to buy something that was built overseas. They wanted to support the jobs of Australian car workers. We continue with that commitment to supporting Australian jobs through our more than $5 billion investment in our new-car plan. It is that investment that the Leader of the Opposition wants to slash, slashing support for the Australian car industry.

To the member for Higgins I make the following suggestion. There are, of course, various ways of conducting an emissions trading scheme and various coverage arrangements. The member for Higgins worked for the former Treasurer, Peter Costello, who was very determined for the design of an emissions trading scheme to include petrol. Indeed, he said, 'If you want to encourage people to use less petrol in their cars, one of the consequences of that is that petrol will become less affordable. This is all part of responding to carbon emissions.' So who is the real member for Higgins—the economic rationalist who worked for Peter Costello or the member who follows the relentless negativity and economic vandalism of the Leader of the Opposition? I would be very interested in the answer.