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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 2308

Carbon Pricing

Mr HUNT (Flinders) (14:10): My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister of the comments by the head of Australia's largest power generator, Macquarie Generation, that electricity prices will climb higher and faster than the government claims, because of her carbon tax. With electricity prices set to rise at up to double the rate the government claims, how will the government's so-called compensation be adequate to offset this additional hit on families' costs of living?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:11): On the member's question: (1) the government of course stands by the Treasury modelling on the effects on power prices; (2) in the design of our carbon price scheme—

Opposition members interjecting

Ms GILLARD: Of course, whenever you mention a fact, the opposition cannot take it because their fear campaign just crashes into a hole. But these are the facts. Under the design of our carbon pricing scheme we are providing $5.5 billion through the Energy Security Fund to deal with the electricity industry. We have established the Energy Security Council to provide systemic advice on energy security and possible measures to address any issues that may arise. We have also begun an expression of interest process to close around 2,000 megawatts of very highly-emissions-intensive coal fired electricity generation capacity—and that would have effect before 2020.

If you are serious about tackling climate change then it must be acknowledged that the energy sector, our electricity generation, is amongst the most emissions intensive in the world. That means we need a journey of transformation in that energy sector, so that we are able to generate energy but to generate less emissions. Putting a price on carbon is the most efficient way to do that. And, having put a price on carbon, we are in a position to provide assistance to families that need it most, including families—

Mr Morrison interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Cook will remain silent.

Ms GILLARD: with children, through family payments; taxpayers earning less than $80,000 a year—and, of course, pensioners will benefit too. And millions of households will receive more in their hands than they need to deal with the average impact of carbon pricing.

Mr Speaker, on the—

Mr Abbott: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on direct relevance. Two minutes into the answer, we know what the government says, but what it says has been contradicted—and that is what the Prime Minister should be explaining in being directly relevant to the question.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. I will listen to the Leader of the House.

Mr Albanese: On the point of order, the Leader of the Opposition has today, with every answer of the Prime Minister, got up and made a statement and argument in the guise of a point of order. They are not points of order.

The SPEAKER: I give notice to all honourable members that I will continue to ensure that points of order are not abused, and if they are then the member abusing the standing orders will spend some time outside the chamber. I call the honourable the Prime Minister, who will be directly relevant in the few seconds available to her.

Ms GILLARD: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. On the question of electricity prices, of course there was a time when the opposition was very honest about this to the Australian people—that time has passed. There was a time in August 2010, when the relevant spokesperson from the opposition very clearly said that power prices are set to double over the next five to seven years, irrespective of who is in government. And he talked about an investment drought in energy generation. The biggest problem that would face that sector in terms of making long-lived investments is uncertainty. Who is the architect of uncertainty in this debate? The Leader of the Opposition, with his very wacky plans to impose a $1,300 charge on families—

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will return to the substance of the question.

Ms GILLARD: and of course to throw the energy generation sector into complete confusion. Instead, the government have taken a very purposeful approach to making sure that we embrace a clean energy— (Time expired)