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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 5839

Carbon Pricing


Mr CHEESEMAN (Corangamite) (14:32): Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer update the House on the results of the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into a carbon emissions policy in key economies. How has the inquiry been received and what is the government’s response?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:32): I thank the member for his question, because the report has been received very well. The report is important in terms of the carbon debate. The report shows the importance of concerted action around the globe. And, of course, the report points to the importance of a carbon price. The commission examined climate change policies in seven out of our top 10 trading partners, including the United States and China. It contains two very important messages. Every single country is putting in place a suite of policies to reduce emissions and to transform their economies. This is understood among our trading partners. There is something like 1,000 policies in place across those countries. So it is overwhelmingly clear that global action is taking place. The second point that it made is very, very important. It says that a carbon price is the most important, cost-effective way to cut pollution. The report says:

The consistent finding from this study is that much lower cost abatement could be achieved through broad, explicitly carbon-pricing approaches …

What this report shows is that Australia is not in danger of acting alone. In fact, we are in danger of falling behind. We know, as a result of this report, if we want our businesses to be competitive in the 21st century, we have got to have a clean energy future. Acting on climate change through a carbon price is imperative. That is why business organisations like BCA, AiG and many others are all supporting a market based mechanism. It is why Liberals like the member for Wentworth have supported a market based mechanism. It is why a former Prime Minister, Mr Howard, supported a market based mechanism. It is why Dr Hewson has supported a market based mechanism. It used to be supported as well by the shadow Treasurer.

The other importance of a market based mechanism is that it does supply the revenue which can be used to assist households and industry to make the transition. The government has made it very clear that we will provide generous assistance to make that transition. It shows us the really clear contrast between the approach of the government with a market based price and the policies of those opposite, which are simply policies of subsidies for polluters. What this report makes very clear is how ineffective a policy of subsidies for polluters is.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, on a point of Order: I refer you to the standing order about members gathering in the gangways rather than sitting in their seats. The foreign minister's attention should perhaps be drawn to this so that he can listen to the answer of the Treasurer.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! When the House comes to order, the Treasurer will have the call. All members know their responsibility to take their places on entering the House.

Mr Tony Smith interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Casey is warned.

Mr SWAN: Those on the other side of the House have a policy of subsidies for polluters. They are going to tax our taxpayers to give subsidies to polluters. Of course, in that arrangement there is no revenue to assist pensioners and no revenue to assist households out there that are doing it tough, no revenue whatsoever. That is why there is such unhappiness on that side of the House about their great big pension clawback that they have planned. If they want to come in and take away the generous assistance to pensioners and the generous assistance to households, this absolutely shows how out of touch they are with average families and with pensioners. We on this side of the House will stand up for pensioners and will stand up for average families. Those on that side of the House are standing up for the big polluters.