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Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Page: 5280

Carbon Pricing

Mr HUNT (Flinders) (15:09): My question is to the Prime Minister. Given that Professor Garnaut advocates an increase in petrol prices for households after year one of the carbon tax, will the Prime Minister rule out a new tax on petrol?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (15:10): I do genuinely thank the shadow minister for the opportunity to answer a further question about the Garnaut review, because I think it is very important for anyone who is watching question time today to not fall for the false premises that are behind the opposition's question. The opposition is mounting its question time—I certainly would not use the word 'attack'; I would not use the word 'strategy'; I must admit the word really escapes me. Anyway, whatever this kind of shambolic display is, No. 1, the opposition is trying to say that Professor Garnaut's review is the government's policy. It says that if the government does not agree with that proposition, somehow the government is walking away from Professor Garnaut. Of course, all of this analysis is a false premise and absolutely absurd. So let us be clear about Professor Garnaut's work. Yes, Professor Garnaut was asked to update his earlier report. We are a government that thinks public policy is best informed when you invite experts to participate and to put forward their views. Professor Garnaut has put forward his views and I thank him very much for doing that. But of course the government will make the decisions about the final design of carbon pricing and we will work through the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee and our usual cabinet processes to do that. Clearly, I understand that those opposite do not like proper public policy processes.

Mr Hunt: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order on relevance. The question was whether or not the Prime Minister would rule out a new tax on petrol.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister is aware of her responsibility to directly relate her remarks to the question. The Prime Minister has the call.

Ms GILLARD: I was asked about a matter dealt with in Professor Garnaut's report, and I am clarifying and dealing with that. I am definitely going to clarify this point because of the game playing we are seeing from the opposition today. Of course, they do not want Australians to have a rational debate about climate change and carbon pricing because in the face of a rational debate their fear campaign runs off the rails. Professor Garnaut has put his views into the public domain and they actually deserve a considered public policy response from those opposite. Of course, they will never get that because those opposite are climate change deniers and they are determined to run a fear campaign. What we will do with Professor Garnaut's work—of course, it is there to inform the public discussion—is consider it deeply and the government will make decisions at the appropriate time and we will outline all of those decisions to the Australian people.

Coming to the question that I was asked, can I say this about the cost of living and Australian households: the Leader of the Opposition has distorted today words from a chapter of Professor Garnaut's work that is called 'Better climate, better tax'. That is, Professor Garnaut is talking about tax cuts. What I can certainly say to the House today is as we work through designing household assistance and carbon pricing, tax cuts are a serious option. To the Leader of the Opposition, I would say: what that means is that he has decided to go to the next election ripping assistance out of people's hands and taking money away from Australian families. Of course, we understand the cost-of-living pressures on Australian families and we will make the appropriate decisions to generously assist Australian families. (Time expired)