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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 5841

Carbon Pricing

Ms JULIE BISHOP ( Curtin Deputy Leader of the Opposition ) ( 14:38 ): My question is to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to this statement about the carbon tax by the head of the Australian Workers Union, Paul Howes. He said:

… we will end up reliant on imported steel, which will not only increase our carbon footprint but will transfer offshore our jobs, our wealth …

Does the Treasurer agree with Mr Howes's assessment of the effects of the carbon tax and will he agree to the AWU's demand to exempt the steel industry?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:38): What I can say to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is that with a carbon price we will see strong economic growth, strong income growth and strong jobs growth. What is clear from the Productivity Commission report and what is clear from modelling that has been conducted by Stern and Garnaut and was conducted for us through the CPRS is that economic growth with a carbon price remains strong, that jobs growth with a carbon price remains strong and that income growth with a carbon price remains strong.

Ms Julie Bishop: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I asked the Treasurer whether he agreed with Mr Howes's assessment that the carbon tax would increase the carbon footprint and transfer offshore jobs and wealth and did he agree with the AWU's demand to exempt the steel industry. That was the question.

Mr McCormack interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Riverina might occupy his time better by not interjecting but reading Practice and he will learn that, whether he thinks the question can be answered yes or no, that is not the practice of this place. But interjections are disorderly. He is warned. The Treasurer has the call. He will relate his remarks directly to the question.

Mr SWAN: Because I am a Labor Treasurer, my most fundamental concern is for jobs. It is for job security, it is for more jobs.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer has the call, not anybody else.

Mr SWAN: I know that those on that side of the House are not concerned about jobs. What they are concerned about is running a scare campaign. But a price on carbon is important because it drives investment in clean energy. To be a prosperous economy in the 21st century we have to be driven by clean energy and that requires a price on carbon. It does mean as a nation we have to make a significant transition. It does mean that there will be assistance for some industries which are trade exposed and energy intensive. We are absolutely committed to working with those industries because we are concerned about jobs—jobs in the near term, jobs in the medium term and jobs in the long term—because only we on this side of the House have the guts to take the hard decisions to protect our future prosperity.

Those on that side of the House are running away, running away from the fundamental decisions that need to be taken to support jobs and to create wealth in our economy. They are pretending that they have a policy in this area. Their policy of subsidies for polluters will tax taxpayers and hand the money to industry but it will not necessarily provide any of the assistance for the workers of this country that we are determined to provide. We are absolutely concerned about jobs and we welcome a debate about the future of jobs in this country, because, when we have in the past put in place the big structural reforms, we have done that so we can support jobs, not just more jobs but jobs with higher wages, so a higher living standard for all Australians. That is what reform is about.

The Liberal Party once used to stand for fundamental reform. They do not any longer. They are now split between two camps. You have the Abbott camp, which is the deniers and they take any opportunity to—

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer will return to the question.

Mr SWAN: And we have the Turnbull camp—

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer will return to the question.

Mr SWAN: which actually believes in doing something.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Treasurer will return to the question. The Treasurer will not debate the question beyond directly relating his debate to the question.

Mr SWAN: Mr Speaker, the question was about jobs and what we need to do as a community to create jobs and to support jobs. We have made it very clear that we will be supporting energy intensive, trade exposed industries to make the transition. Why are we doing that? Because we want more jobs. We want better jobs and we want a brighter future for all Australians in a sustainable economy.