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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 5845

Carbon Pricing

Mr SYMON (Deakin) (14:57): My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Will the minister outline the government's commitment to introducing a carbon price through a market mechanism? How has this been received and what is the government's response?

Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:57): I thank the member for Deakin for his question. A carbon price is the cheapest and fairest way of reducing Australia's carbon pollution. A market mechanism will cut pollution in our economy at the least cost. There is widespread recognition of that and widespread support for that approach. Recently 13 prominent economists have said a market mechanism is the most efficient way. Industry associations, including the Business Council, have advocated that a market mechanism is the most efficient way of tackling climate change. Leaders from various religious faiths were in parliament a couple of weeks ago and advocated action on climate change. Former Liberal leaders from Malcolm Fraser through to Dr John Hewson through to the member for Wentworth all agree that a market based mechanism is the best way to tackle climate change. Finally, as the Treasurer averred to earlier, the Productivity Commission made it crystal clear in a report released last week that carbon pricing would deliver through a market mechanism any given reduction in pollution at the least cost.

We were also recently reminded that none other than the opposition leader has also supported a market mechanism in various forms, either a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme, at various points in time. But he subsequently sought to disown his own comments. Last week a journalist asked the Leader of the Opposition the following:

Mr Abbott in 2009, the interview that was aired on Monday night, you said that if you want to put a price on carbon, why not do it with just a simple tax. How has your position on that changed now?

The Leader of the Opposition responded as follows:

I was asked if, if you wanted to put a price on carbon—and I didn’t think we should put a price on carbon then …

And the Leader of the Opposition says he does not now. The only trouble with that is that the Leader of the Opposition is on the record on multiple occasions in the past supporting a carbon price. Here are a few examples. In December 2008, the Leader of the Opposition had this to say in his Daily Telegraph blog:

An emissions trading scheme probably is the best way to put a price on carbon …

In July 2009, the Leader of the Opposition wrote the following:

Still, a new tax would be the intelligent skeptic's way to deal with minimising emissions …

One would not know who he was referring to as an intelligent sceptic. Again, in November 2009, he said on radio 2UE—

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Sturt, having been warned, has now interrupted. He will leave the chamber under standing order 94(a) only because I do not think it was worth three days.

The member for Sturt then left the chamber.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: He has been out for a day. If I name him I would have to get the support of the House to give him three days.

Mr COMBET: Mr Speaker, we are on board with that proposition I think.

The SPEAKER: The minister will get back to the question.

Mr COMBET: Again, in November 2009, the Leader of the Opposition said on radio 2UE, 'You can't have a climate change policy without supporting an ETS at this time.'

Not only is the Leader of the Opposition intent on spreading misinformation about the government's policy; he is now also spreading misinformation about his own—misrepresenting his own position, which is on the record from the past. We know how the Leader of the Opposition views himself on this issue: he is a self-confessed weathervane on climate change policy. His position has been a muddle for a period of time, but there are some things that are perfectly clear. (Time expired)