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Monday, 7 November 2011
Page: 8354


Senator McEWEN (South AustraliaGovernment Whip in the Senate) (16:31): I too would like to contribute to the debate this afternoon in the short time left to me, although I do query why we are debating this matter as a matter of public importance today when a similar matter is before the chamber in the form of bills. To hear Senator Kroger talking about the amount of time available for the committee stages of the bill is interesting because, of course, on this MPI we are just chewing up one hour of time that could possibly be used in the committee stage. That is indicative of the fact that the opposition are not really serious about debating the content of the bills. We saw that last week, when we spent a considerable period of time debating whether or not the Liberals should retain the chairmanship of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee. A good couple of hours went on that debate.

Having said that, I am pleased to say that the government is proud of its record of implementing policies that have been and will be good for the Australian public and for Australia into the future. Our government's commitment to tackling climate change by reducing emissions is longstanding and is supported by the science. Indeed, the commitment to reducing harmful carbon emissions is also supported by the oppo­sition, although you would not know it from hearing some of the contributions from those opposite, who apparently think they know more than the scientists.

The preferred method of the Labor government to reduce harmful emissions is to put a price on carbon, making the biggest polluters pay, and to encourage investment in cleaner renewable energy sources. That method of reducing harmful carbon emiss­ions is supported not just by scientists but also by all credible economists. Even former prime ministers support this method of reducing harmful carbon emissions that contribute to damaging climate change. And I note that it was part of the coalition's 2007 election policy, when, under former Prime Minister John Howard, their policy stated:

A re-elected Coalition government will establish the world's most comprehensive emissions trading scheme in Australia, commencing no later than 2012. The scheme will be the primary mechanism for reducing Australia's emissions at least cost to families and to Australia's economy."

My, how the worm has turned.

I note that there is no credible economic support for the opposition's so-called Direct Action plan, which we know will be ineffect­ive and more expensive for Australian working families. It would in fact cost Australian working families some $1,300 more in taxes if it were to be implemented.

As a Labor government, when we moved to tackle climate change we did it in the usual Labor way, and that is a way that is fair and ensures we deliver opportunities for all Australians. We will compensate businesses and households through various compensa­tory and other mechanisms that will apply to individuals and businesses that may be affected by the price on carbon. For example, nine in 10 households will get tax cuts or pension or payment rises to help with living costs when the carbon price comes in. I note on this point, and it is a point never made by the opposition but often made by us, that average household costs will rise by the modest amount of $9.90 per week and the compensation that will be offered as part of the government's plan will be $10.10 per week. So, indeed, nine out of 10 Australian households will get tax cuts or pension payment rises to help cost of living increases and will not be out of pocket. But, of course, the opposition leave those facts out of the hysterical tirades that they continue to entertain us with in this chamber. It is part of their fear campaign—the cheap populist politics meant to mislead and deceive Australians. It is far easier for the opposition to be loose with the truth than to actually address the facts of the matters before the chamber with regard to climate change.

They all over there know that their Direct Action plan is a joke. It will not work and it will be more expensive. Labor has a plan to address climate change— (Time expired)

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Boyce ): The time for the discussion is concluded.