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Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Page: 6658

Carbon Pricing

Mr IAN MACFARLANE (Groom) (14:24): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to research released yesterday from Deloitte Access Economics which has found that, on top of the already forecast doubling of electricity prices from transmission and distribution cost increases, the introduction of her carbon tax will then again more than double the wholesale electricity price by 2020. Given that the Prime Minister has refused to give the people a say, isn't she guilty of being all hypocrisy and no democracy?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:25): I am a little bit surprised to get this question from the shadow minister who has asked it, given that he was responsible for working with the now Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Penny Wong, to negotiate the bipartisan agreement on pricing carbon that was before this parliament during the last parliamentary term—a man who dedicated hour after hour after hour to working on a scheme to price carbon. We thank him for those efforts. The fact that now he has been asked to come to the dispatch box and ask this question just shows the hypocrisy of the opposition when it comes to pricing carbon, because of course we know that across the opposition there are people who believe, as we do, that climate change is real and that the most efficient way of dealing with climate change is to price carbon. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition used to believe that very, very firmly himself until he decided that it was in his political interest to run the protest campaign that he is running now—all opposition and no leader.

The answer to the shadow minister's question is—and I refer to his wise words before the election—that he knows, as I do, that there are upwards pressures on electricity prices arising from things like underinvestment in distribution.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The question has been asked.

Ms GILLARD: He very, very clearly talked about those upwards pressures before the last election and indicated that electricity prices would rise no matter who formed the government after the election. I thank him for that honesty.

On the question of carbon pricing, of course we are going to get big polluters to pay and we are going to use more than half that revenue to assist Australian families. At the same time, the shadow minister who asked the question is now backing—as a result of having to leave behind his former position because of the hypocrisy of the Leader of the Opposition—a rip-off of Australian families to take that money out of family budgets and to give it to big polluters. I will leave him with that position. We will put a price on big polluters and assist families.