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Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Page: 5446

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) (5:18 PM) —Given that those assertions have been made, I now have no option but to respond, Senator Boswell. I did extend to you some courtesy around this and you have chosen to make political points. I could make some comments about the fact that, if you had chosen to allow the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation to reach the committee stage, we could have traversed all of this. But you opposed that legislation without even allowing it to be read a second time. You refused to allow it to go into committee, so do not blame me as to the fact that you, on that side of the chamber, refused to support even allowing the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation going into committee, where you could have dealt with all of those issues.

On the issue of the household assistance measures, which you say we are somehow avoiding putting on the public record, these were announced in December. I refer you to 17.2.2 of the white paper released by the Prime Minister in December. There were pamphlets put out by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs or perhaps through Centrelink which detailed the assistance under the CPRS. We have been completely upfront and provided a significant amount of information on the assistance measures under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, including in relation to low- and middle-income families. The tables are all in the documents which have been provided and I can send copies to your office if you have not had the opportunity to read them. Obviously, in the definition of low-income household the income level changes depending on the household type, whether single, couple, couple with children or single parent. The indication in the white paper, for example, is that low income refers to earnings of less than $30,000 for a single person, $45,000 for a couple with no children and $60,000 for a couple with children. There are a range of other tables I could read into Hansard, but I suggest it would be a much better use of the chamber’s time if we could simply send them to you.

In relation to the Climate Change Action Fund and the question of where people should go in order to obtain assistance through it, the Climate Change Action Fund is funded in most part out of the CPRS revenue. If the senator wants to ensure that entities and organisations such as the one he mentioned are able to have access to the Climate Change Action Fund, I suggest to him that that is one of the key measures under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Again, we have spelt out in the white paper released in December the way in which that fund will work.

The senator made a number of allegations about engagement with the non-government sector. I have previously said in this place in answer to his earlier propositions that, in fact, one of the reasons that we included the non-government sector in the Climate Change Action Fund was as a result of discussions we had had, particularly with welfare organisations. That is precisely why we did it.

Finally, I make the point that I do not concede the amounts that Senator Boswell has put on the table. His party, with respect, have put a lot of figures on the table without backup or evidence as part of their fear-mongering campaign against action on climate change. If you wish to choose to do that in the National Party, that is a matter for you. I do not necessarily accept the numbers you have put down. In answer to a previous question, I indicated to you the impact on electricity prices through the renewable energy target. I also make the point that one of the things that the government wants to support is increased energy efficiency in organisations, whether businesses or non-government organisations, so that they can reduce the impact on them of a carbon price. These are issues we have considered in detail, Senator Boswell. Frankly, I am sorry that you have not had the opportunity to understand the government’s policy on these issues and I again offer you the opportunity to get across it if you wish.

In relation to the amendments before the chair, I think I have previously indicated our views.