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Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Page: 5199

Senator WORTLEY (3:07 PM) —I welcome the opportunity to respond on the issue of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in taking note of answers today. Those opposite spoke briefly last week about their Frontier Economics report—the plan you put forward when you do not have a plan; the plan that does not have agreement in their own party room. In fact, there appears to be very little that those opposite are agreed upon. They are divided on the issue of climate change, they are splintered on the issue of how to deal with it and they are shattered when it comes to credibility in addressing the challenges confronting the environment. It is fair to say that a report card for them would have recorded ‘Failed’ next to each one. But that does not deter them from standing up in this chamber and making a noise on environmental issues. For over a decade they were in government, and what did they do to address the crisis in the Murray-Darling Basin? What did they do to address the issue of carbon pollution? What was their response to signing Kyoto? What was their contribution to addressing the environmental issues, the damages compounded day by day? These questions could be answered by silence. But silence is difficult to record in Hansard, so in its place I will respond with one word: nothing. That is what those opposite did. They are naysayers—advocates of doing nothing, of waiting and seeing. What did they do last week in this chamber? Still divided on the existence of climate change, they voted down the government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

These environmental problems—droughts, lack of water, carbon pollution—did not happen overnight. Damage to our rivers, the Great Barrier Reef, ecosystems—the list goes on—has been developing over time. Those opposite had 12 long years to address them, yet they have the nerve to come into this chamber and put questions to this government about the way that we are addressing these issues. The Rudd government was elected in November 2007. We went to the election with a commitment to the people of Australia—a commitment to address the issue of climate change. We were not going to be like those opposite and bury our heads in the eroding sand. Last week in this chamber, we put forward a piece of legislation that would go some way towards addressing this issue. But those opposite, after 12 years, are still divided and still undecided. So they voted the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme down.

The government’s primary objective in designing the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme has been to get the balance right—to set in place a scheme that reduces carbon pollution and supports economic growth. The government has listened to the views of all stakeholders very closely, including the views of the iron and steel industry, in developing and finalising the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Activities in iron and steel manufacturing have been identified as potentially eligible for emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries assistance under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. They are currently undergoing a formal assessment to determine their eligibility.

The government understands that Australian businesses are currently dealing with the worst global recession since the Great Depression. In this environment, the government has acted further to support jobs and assist businesses by providing a global recession buffer as part of the assistance package for emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries for the first five years of the CPRS. This buffer will provide an additional five per cent of free permits for emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries activities eligible for 90 per cent assistance and an additional 10 per cent of free permits for the EITE activities eligible for 60 per cent assistance. Other measures, such as the delay in the start of the CPRS by one year and a one-year fixed price phase, will further help Australian companies manage the impact of the global recession.