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Thursday, 18 August 2011
Page: 8595

Carbon Pricing

Mr BALDWIN (Paterson) (14:23): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the analysis by the New South Wales Treasury that shows her carbon tax will cost 18,500 jobs in the Hunter and 7,000 jobs in the Illawarra and will push up power prices for households and businesses by 15 per cent. Prime Minister, with job losses already occurring across the economy, with families struggling with rising costs of living under your government, how can this be the right time to make a bad situation worse by imposing the world's biggest carbon tax?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:24): To the member who asked the question—we can see they have all got the same lines to chant today, which will probably be quite different from what they say tomorrow—what I would say is, first and foremost, my very clear recollection is that the so-called modelling you refer to, which I believe you probably saw in newspaper reports, was actually modelling on an earlier carbon pricing package. The so-called modelling was done not on the basis of the package that we announced and certainly not on the basis of the industry assistance measures that are in the carbon pricing package that we announced.

I would say to the member I think he has got a real responsibility to make sure that he tells people in his community the truth about the impact of carbon pricing, because I know that there have been attempts to mislead them. The member comes from a great coalmining district and there have been very direct attempts to mislead people who work in coalmining. The Leader of the Opposition was there one day at a Peabody mine saying to anybody who would listen that the coalmining industry had no future and it was going to be shut down. He was tremendously embarrassed when, the very next day, the very company whose jacket he had had on announced a major takeover, the biggest ever Australian takeover bid for an Australian company, because they saw such a long-term profitable future in mining coal.

So there have been all of these false claims made by members of the opposition and, yes, of course I expect that Liberal Party premiers will be following in their footsteps, in the lead-up to the Council of Australian Governments meeting, and trying to help their friends on that side of the House. But the member who asked the question should not confuse that with the truth. He should not confuse the Liberal Party's scare campaign with the truth, because we know it is not the truth.

With a price on carbon, our economy will continue to grow. With a price on carbon, there will be 1.6 million new jobs by 2020. With a price on carbon, coalmining will continue to grow. With a price on carbon—

Mr Abbott interjecting

Ms GILLARD: He is still making misrepresentations about coalmining.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will cease interjecting and the Prime Minister will ignore the interjections.

Ms GILLARD: With a price on carbon, we will see a strong economic future for our country—and, of course, that economic future will be strengthened because we will seize the clean energy sources of the future.

I would remind the member who asked the question, and I know that there are often attempts by the opposition to obscure this part of the debate, that most days of the week there is actually a bipartisan target between both sides of politics to cut carbon pollution by five per cent by 2020. Some days of the week the Leader of the Opposition walks away from it, but most days of the week he endorses it. Consequently, in this whole debate we are asking ourselves two questions: when to start and how to do it? Well, I am for starting soon and doing it in the most cheap way possible. You are for starting late and doing it in the most expensive way possible.

You come into this parliament with challenges about economic prosperity. Well, let me be very, very clear. The worst possible thing we could do for the Australian economy is start late, with expensive abatement, and then put on an extra tax of $1,300 per household to pay for it—your plan. We will keep with our plan: starting on 1 July, doing it in the cheapest possible way, a growing economy and more jobs.