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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8264


Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (10:16): It is always ironic when Senator Abetz—and also Senator Brandis—accuse me of giving homilies! Even Senator Mason thinks that is amusing. I did in fact answer the Coogee Chemicals issue. I spoke specifically about our advice about the effect on such a new plant. If you are getting in excess of 100 per cent of your liability then it is hard to see how a carbon price would be an impost on the facility. So I have responded in detail to that.

In relation to China I want to say that I think it is extremely unfortunate that the opposition continue to make some pretty thinly veiled attacks on the government because of something China does. I would make this point. China has the world's largest installed renewable energy generation. In 2009, China added 37 gigawatts of renew­able power capacity, more than any other country in the world. Everyone knows China is an economy on the rise. Perhaps Australia and the opposition should take some note of the fact that this growing economy wants to get ahead in the clean energy space. What does that say about where China believes the global economy will move? I also make the point that China has indicated it will introduce—

Senator Cormann: They're all egging you on. They're all laughing behind your back, those other countries.

Senator WONG: Senator Cormann, given you got rolled this week on super, I'd be quiet if I were you. How embarrassing! At least Mr Robb is out there running a sensible line. You just got rolled by Senator Abetz and Mr Abbott on a super policy you had already announced, so I would not be interjecting if I were you. I would keep my head very low for today. Very embarrassing. It shows that you just cannot deliver the fiscal responsibility you lecture everyone else about. But, anyway, I digress.

Senator Abetz: As you always do!

Senator WONG: I am coming back to the point. China has also indicated it will introduce emissions trading pilot schemes in a number of provinces, including the indust­rial centres of Beijing, Shanghai and Guang­dong. The World Bank has recently indicated the prospect of these schemes being expand­ed to a national scheme by 2015. India has a tax on coal which is expected to generate over half a billion dollars annually.

On the issue, the Senator has also yet again gone on about process here in this chamber. I again remind the chamber we have been debating this for many years. We look forward to dealing with the amend­ments and dealing with the bill. I thought I would also make this point. Mr Howard in October 2007 was asked:

JOURNALIST:

Mr Howard, just in relation to climate change, haven’t you locked Australia into an emissions trading scheme in the next term…

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes I have.

JOURNALIST:

…regardless of what our trading competitors do?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, but that is precisely the sort of contribution we should make, because that emissions trading system is tailored to suit Australia’s needs and it’s an earnest of our serious commitment to making a contribution commensurate with the capacity of our economy.

It says 'earnest', but that may be a typo for 'indication'.

In the address to the Melbourne Press Club of 17 July 2007, he said:

In the years to come it will provide a model for other nations to follow.

Being among the first movers on carbon trading in this region will bring new opportunities and we intend to grasp them.

Let no-one believe that the Liberal Party's position in 2007 was ever dependent on the rest of the world moving. It was not. Out of the mouth of your Prime Minister—for whom, Senator Bernardi, I know you have enormous regard—very clearly your policy did not expect or anticipate that the world would move before you introduced an emissions trading scheme. Four years later that is your new position because it is the only way you can justify the change in position we have seen from Howard to Nelson to Turnbull to Abbott. It is the only way you can justify it. But the historical record shows you went to an election very clearly accepting the same advice we did, which is that delaying increases costs. You were not waiting for the rest of the world to put in place a price on carbon.

I invite the opposition or Senator Xenophon to move an amendment so we can get onto the substance of the matters before the chamber.