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Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Page: 5266

Carbon Pricing


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:08): My question is to the Prime Minister and I refer the Prime Minister to the latest version of the Garnaut report, in particular at page 17 where this statement is made:

Australian households will ultimately bear the full cost of a carbon price.

Let me repeat that:

Australian households will ultimately bear the full cost of a carbon price.

So I ask the Prime Minister: how can she continue to maintain that her tax only makes big polluters pay?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:09): I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his reference to the Garnaut review, which Professor Garnaut gave me earlier today and about which he has been speaking at the National Press Club. I have the review in my hand. It is the product of seven months work and I think we should thank Professor Garnaut for it as an Australian parliament and as an Australian nation. I do not anticipate that everybody will agree with every view put forward by Professor Garnaut, but that should not stop us actually thanking him for his work and respecting him in his professionalism in doing it. In answer to the Leader of the Opposition's question, given he has talked about the question of cost, yes, Professor Garnaut makes some observations about costs. There is one on page 77 of this report and it uses the terminology 'direct action', as the Leader of the Opposition would use to refer to his policy. I would refer to it as a policy in which polluters are subsidised. But Professor Garnaut says this:

Using direct action measures to achieve similar amounts of emissions reduction would raise costs—

Opposition members interjecting

Ms GILLARD: The Leader of the Opposition may be interested in these words—

much more than a carbon price but would not raise the revenue to offset or reduce the costs in any of these ways.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Leader of the Opposition's question could not have been more specific. It quoted a sentence from the Garnaut review and it asked the Prime Minister how she could continue to maintain that only the biggest polluters would pay. After quoting from the Garnaut review, the Prime Minister is not even attempting to answer that question. I would ask you to bring her back to the question.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. At the time that the member approached the dispatch box the Prime Minister was relating a further reference in the report to carbon pricing.

Ms GILLARD: My point is basically this, that if you want to look at the Garnaut review then you should look at all of it.

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order!

Ms GILLARD: What he does say about the measures that are proposed by the Leader of the Opposition is that they would raise costs much more than a carbon price but would not raise the revenue to offset or reduce the cost in any of these ways.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr Sidebottom interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order!

Ms GILLARD: The costs might be covered by budgetary expenditure but this affects who pays the cost, not whether the costs are there, and other people's taxes have to rise to pay for expenditures under direct action. So what Professor Garnaut is putting there, and what is a clear contrast between the policy that the government stands for and the Leader of the Opposition's policy, is that we are putting a price on carbon that big polluters would pay.

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Sturt is warned.

Mr Sidebottom interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Braddon is warned.

Ms GILLARD: We have always been clear about that, that big polluters would pay the price and by paying that price they would have the incentives they need to act to reduce the carbon pollution that they emit. We have also been very clear with Australian families—and I said this when I first outlined the carbon pricing mechanism to the Australian community—that there will be price impacts that flow through to Australian households. That is why we will use the majority of the revenue raised from pricing carbon to assist Australian households with those impacts, to generously assist Australian families who need that assistance the most. And we will use the remainder of the revenue to protect Australian jobs and to fund programs which help our move to being a clean energy economy. As Professor Garnaut says, the Leader of the Opposition's plan is about putting costs directly onto the shoulders of Australian taxpayers—that is, onto the shoulders of Australian families without any compensation at all.













Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:14): Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. It is again to the Prime Minister. Before the election the Prime Minister said that there would be no carbon tax under the government she leads—and we know that that is wrong. Now she says that only the big polluters will pay—and we know that is wrong.

Mr Albanese: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: a supplementary question has to be just that—a question.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition has the call.

Mr ABBOTT: The Prime Minister was deceptive before the election. She said in her answer just a moment ago that only the big polluters would pay. But we have here on page 17 of the Garnaut report:

Australian households will ultimately bear the full cost of the—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order!

Mr Albanese: A point of order, Mr Speaker: it goes to standing orders, and the standing order that requires no argument. We have had 36 seconds from the Leader of the Opposition and there is not a resemblance of a question. If we want to have the suspension of standing orders that we get every day at ten to three so he can talk for 10 minutes, he should so move, but the question is out of order.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! English expression may not have been my best subject at school, but it is true that there has not yet been a question mark. The Leader of the Opposition has the call. It is an extremely long preamble but he has the call.

Mr ABBOTT: Given that the Prime Minister has been caught out yet again, this time by her own report, how can anyone believe anything that this Prime Minister says?









Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:17): I say to the Leader of the Opposition: just because you bellow things does make them right. Once again, here we have the Leader of the Opposition deliberately not telling the truth to the Australian community. He has just said to me 'your report'—

Mr Pyne: A point of order, Mr Speaker: the Prime Minister should withdraw the imputation against the Leader of the Opposition.

The SPEAKER: Order! The expression used was an expression which has been allowed. I would hope that this exchange—both the question and the answer—is the end of the overly-used debate in both questions and answers. As I have said before, the simplest thing that the House could do is to change the standing order so that there is no debate allowed in both the question and the answer. Having allowed the debate in the question, I have indicated before that that opens the door. The Prime Minister will now respond.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, on a further point of order: the phrase used by the Prime Minister is one that I and the member for Indi were asked to withdraw only, I think, last Thursday. I ask you to ask the Prime Minister to withdraw because accusing somebody of deliberately not telling the truth is the same as accusing someone of being a liar, and I ask you to ask her to withdraw it.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister has the call. I have given my ruling.

Mr Alexander interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Bennelong may be a newcomer, but he should be very careful in reflecting by way of interjection. The Prime Minister has the call.

Ms GILLARD: My very simple point was that in his question to me the Leader of the Opposition referred to this as my report. It is not my report, it is Professor Garnaut's report, and I believe he deserves the respect that should be shown to an expert who has acted, I believe, in the interests of the Australian nation by spending a very concentrated period putting this work together. It is very good work, and I would recommend reading it to people who are interested in tackling climate change and interested in the facts about how we address climate change in this nation.

This is Professor Garnaut's report. We are a government that is always happy to accept and see the advice of experts. Then, when you look at the advice of experts, you absorb it and you respond to it. I know seriously working through an issue is not the opposition's strong suit, but I do recommend to them that they seriously work through Professor Garnaut's report. When they work through Professor Garnaut's report they will find that it very clearly makes the case, as an economist, that the most efficient way of dealing with cutting carbon pollution is to put a price on carbon.

For people who say they are concerned about cost-of-living pressures on Australian families, this report very clearly makes the point that if you go down a different road—particularly the road that the Leader of the Opposition refers to as 'direct action' but which is really about subsidising polluters—that is a more costly road to go down. So if you care about the cost-of-living circumstances of Australians, you would reject that costly path and accept the advice of Professor Garnaut and many other economic experts that the cheapest way of cutting carbon pollution is to put a price on carbon. Clearly the member for Wentworth could assist the opposition in understanding that proposition.

It is the government's intention, as I have outlined time and time before in this House and I have outlined again today and I am happy to outline further, to put a price on carbon from 1 July next year. That price on carbon will be paid by big polluters. Because they will now have a price on carbon they will innovate and change the way they work to create less carbon pollution. We will take a section of the revenue and assist Australian households. What that means is that big polluters pay and Australian households get the assistance. The Leader of the Opposition's plan is to take more tax off Australian families and give it to the big polluters in a plan we know will not work, courtesy of the words of the member for Wentworth. I say to the Leader of the Opposition that, rather than the fear campaign, rather than the cheap political points, he should read all of the report, think about it, move away from this path of negativity and actually try to make a contribution to this debate.