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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6515

Carbon Pricing

Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:19): My question is to the Treasurer. I remind the Treasurer that the price of New Zealand carbon permits has decreased by almost two-thirds in the last 12 months. Why is the government increasing the carbon tax on 1 July this year to over $24 a tonne, a rate 32 times higher than New Zealand's rate of only 75c a tonne?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:20): I thank the shadow Treasurer for this question, because putting in place an emissions trading scheme is the least cost, most efficient way of reducing carbon pollution. We know that; that is the recommendation of virtually every expert inquiry conducted anywhere in the world. As the Prime Minister was saying before, we have opted for a fixed price in the early stages of the scheme, a fixed price to provide certainty and a fixed price to provide predictability. We are already seeing the outcome of that process: a significant reduction in emissions.

What all of these questions really boil down to is that those opposite are so embarrassed by their direct action scheme they have to come out and somehow try to discredit an emissions trading scheme. Their scheme will cost the average Australian household $1,200 a year because what they have decided to do is to tax individuals—

Mr Hockey: Madam Speaker, I raise a point of order going to relevance: why is our carbon tax over $24 a tonne, New Zealand's 75c a tonne?

The SPEAKER: The member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The Treasurer has the call and will refer to the question before the chair.

Mr SWAN: The answer is that we have a fixed price period before we move to a floating price—a very simple answer, but one that those opposite will not acknowledge because they are so embarrassed about their incapacity to respond to dangerous climate change and the fact that their policy is such an embarrassment. What they are going to do is to tax the average family $1,200 and give that money to big business, whereas our scheme works the opposite way. What we do is have the large polluters pay money for their pollution. What we do is assist industry with that money and we also provide assistance to punters in the community. Those on the other side have an opposite approach. What they will do is tax punters. You are so embarrassed by that fact that you come in here and try to discredit a carbon pricing scheme which is delivering reductions in emissions and making sure that we will be a prosperous country in the rest of this century. Shame on you.