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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Page: 8709

Carbon Pricing

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:05): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to her comments on 22 February last year, when she said:

I want to be very clear with Australians about what pricing carbon does. It ha s price impacts, it’s meant to— that’s the whole point.

Does the Prime Minister stand by her comment that the whole point of the carbon tax is to push up prices, particularly to push up power prices?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:06): The whole point of putting a price on carbon is to reduce carbon pollution, and you do that by sending the biggest polluters a price signal by charging them a price per tonne for the amount of carbon pollution that they put in our atmosphere. At base, it is a very simple concept—one caught by my statement in February, which I will re-explain now for the benefit of the Leader of the Opposition.

Prior to putting a price on carbon, it was possible for some of our biggest polluters, who generate a lot of carbon pollution, to put that pollution into the atmosphere for nothing; there was absolutely no incentive for change.

Once you put a price per tonne on carbon pollution, there is an incentive for change because big businesses will want to reduce the impact on them of that price. We already know that there are many businesses and I have met many business leaders who are contemplating changes to the way they run their businesses to reduce the amount of carbon pollution they generate. As a result of putting a price on carbon, we will see less pollution in our atmosphere and we will see a greater use of renewable and clean energy. Yes, there are some flow-through price impacts for the things that people buy and use in their own homes, including electricity, and that increase, which we have always said would be 10 per cent, is 10 per cent. That is why we have provided families with tax cuts, family payment increases and pension increases, which means that the majority of Australian households will come out square or in front.

I have been talking about power pricing over recent days and I have made it very clear that my concern is that some of the 50, 60 and 70 per cent increases people have seen, without any real attempts at assistance, have been generated by the decisions and conduct of state governments. That Leader of the Opposition now finds himself in a position where he apparently does not care less about a 50, 60 or 70 per cent increase, which does not come with any real assistance, but continues to focus on his scare campaign about carbon.

Mr Pyne: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker: the Prime Minister was asked about her statement that the whole point of the carbon tax was to push up prices. She is now talking about something that has nothing to do with her statement.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. Points of order are not to resume debate.

Ms GILLARD: I was making the simple point that we obviously care about these impacts on working families; the opposition has not indicated that they care about those 50, 60 or 70 per cent rises. For the Leader of the Opposition, pricing carbon is about tackling carbon pollution and climate change. It is about sending a price signal to big polluters. He should know because he used to support putting a price on carbon.

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:09): Madam Deputy Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Can the Prime Minister confirm that every time power prices go up she has a smile on her face because that is the carbon tax just doing its job?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The question is out of order.