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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6516

Carbon Pricing

Mr HUNT (Flinders) (14:26): My question is to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister confirm that the government plans to legislate to extend her carbon tax to heavy vehicles on 1 July next year? If so, will the rate of the tax be set at $25.40 per tonne?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:26): Thank you. This is starting to resemble a sort of catch-up hour for the opposition on details of a policy proposal that they have been running a fear campaign about for the best part of two years now. The government's policy on carbon pricing and heavy vehicles has been announced for a long period of time; and, yes, we do believe that heavy vehicles should be subject to a carbon price. There is absolutely nothing new in that.

What appears to be new from the opposition's questioning today is: one, they appear to be trying to inform themselves of the details of a scheme that they have been out actually arguing against. You would have thought a rational person, an intelligent person, a clever person, would study the policy proposition first and then work out whether they were opposed to it or in favour of it—clearly not this Leader of the Opposition. He decided to go out with the opposition first and he is just trying to understand it now.

Opposition members interjecting—

Ms GILLARD: I speak to the nature of the interjections that have been coming across the dispatch box as all of this has been in progress, because those interjections have all been about other prices in other countries. Has the opposition today moved from its 'subsidy for polluters plan' back to saying that it supports an emissions trading scheme? Are we seeing a huge move by the opposition today? They are actually giving up their current policy and saying they support an emissions trading scheme. If they are saying that they support an emissions trading scheme with an internationally linked price, guess what? One is already legislated and one is going to come into existence. Thank you very much for finally coming around to supporting it and getting back into the same position you had under the leadership of Prime Minister John Howard. It is truly remarkable.

Then of course in terms of the backflips and lack of care of the opposition, the Leader of the Opposition has been on the record in the past, and I quote the Leader of the Opposition: 'I also think that, if you want to put a price on carbon, why not just do it with a simple tax? Why not ask motorists to pay more?' All motorists, all households, all families, all mums, all dads—the Leader of the Opposition may be embracing that again as part of his backflipping today.

Whilst the opposition wanders around on this topic, not sure what to do next, because the fear campaign is running out of puff, we will continue to get on with the job of reducing carbon pollution, of addressing dangerous climate change, of doing it in the cheapest possible way, of doing it in the way that responsible conservatives support. The Leader of the Opposition can stay there with his extreme position and try to sell that to the Australian people.

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:29): Speaker, I ask a supplementary question to the Prime Minister. If a carbon tax is such a good idea, and if it was always supported by the Prime Minister, why was she not honest with the Australian people about it before the last election? Why weren't you honest, Prime Minister?

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister has the call; the last part of the question was out of order.

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:30): You can always tell when the Leader of the Opposition is not coping with an argument, because he goes for the personal abuse. So you can always tell when he is not coping with an argument—

Honourable members interjecting

Ms GILLARD: Well, the Leader of the Opposition is not coping with an argument! He is not coping with the argument because he is a man who stood alongside Prime Minister Howard in 2007 and stood for election on a platform of an emissions trading scheme. He is the man who had been out publicly supporting carbon pricing, and he is the man who described his change of position not as anything to do with the interests of the Australian nation and not anything to do with tackling climate change. He went to his closest colleagues and said, 'I'm a weather vane on this. I just get out the opinion polling and I work out what is in my political interests. I don't worry about the national interest. I don't worry about seas rising. I don't worry about climate change. I don't worry about any of that. The future is too complicated for me; it would require deep thinking.'

So that is why—

Mr Abbott: Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is a very simple question: why wasn't she honest about this before the last election? She should answer that question.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The Prime Minister has the call.

Ms GILLARD: The Leader of the Opposition is proving my point. He only has his current position because he believes it is in his political interest. I suggest that he goes back to the position he had when he was standing alongside John Howard, listening to John Howard spruik the merits of an emissions trading scheme. At least you believed in that! (Time expired)

Mr Crean interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! No, the member for Hotham does not have the call, that is why I am reprimanding him.