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Monday, 23 May 2011
Page: 4054

Carbon Pricing

Mr IAN MACFARLANE (Groom) (15:17): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to comments by the chief executive of TRUenergy in which he confirmed that a carbon price will add $300 to the household electricity bill and that, overall, electricity prices are set to double in the next six years. Will the Prime Minister admit that the best way to keep power prices down, while delivering new investment in the power generation industry, is for the Prime Minister to keep her promise that: 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead'?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (15:18): I thank the member for Groom for his question. Of course, the member for Groom is the person who, before the last election, verified that, whoever formed government after the election, electricity prices were going up. He was speaking frankly to the Australian people about underinvestment in infrastructure and the fact that investment in infrastructure needed to occur. He said that was going to flow through to consumers and it was nothing to do with a price on carbon. He told people the truth then; I hope he is prepared to continue to do that.

On the question of the statements by the CEO of TRUenergy, I and the government are very conscious of the need for certainty in short- and long-term carbon pricing to send the right signals for investment in long-lived assets—and, of course, electricity generation necessarily involves long-lived assets. That is why we are working on carbon pricing and will announce full details of the scheme in the middle of the year so people can see what is being proposed with certainty. What the CEO of TRUenergy stated yesterday—and it is very clear—was this:

The industry has actually been very supportive of an emissions trading regime and lots of us within the industry operate in other jurisdictions that have an emissions trading regime.

That is, the CEO of TRUenergy was out there, working as he does in a sector that makes long-lived investments, understanding the need for an emissions trading scheme—and, of course, we will get to a full cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme following a fixed-price period. He then specifically rejected the view that a so-called direct action policy would be sufficient to transform the energy sector—and that, I think, is a very important piece of information for the House.

Now, who else has been telling us about so-called direct action over the last seven days? Well, it is none other than the member for Wentworth, who went on national television and verified that, effectively, this is the scheme you have when you are really a climate change denier; it cannot work and it will cost Australians $18 billion. We know that, in 2020, the impact on Australian families will be $720 per year.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: far from being directly relevant, the Prime Minister is verballing the CEO of TRUenergy and members of the opposition frontbench. I would ask you to draw her back to the question she was asked about her promise before the election.

The SPEAKER: Order! There is no point of order in the way it was couched. But I remind the Prime Minister that she should be directly relevant. I think she was starting to stray slightly, and I remind her that she should get back to the direct response that she had given up until that point.

Ms GILLARD: I was asked about comments by the CEO of TRUenergy, carbon pricing and electricity. Let me conclude with this. Having given consideration to the view of the CEO of TRUenergy about emissions trading—maybe the members of the opposition do not like the facts, but these are the facts—I say the following: we need to send a certain price signal to those in electricity. That is what we will do with carbon pricing. Our carbon pricing scheme will meet what Australians want. They want effective action on climate change and they want assistance with their cost of living pressures.

The scheme proposed by the Leader of the Opposition will do the direct opposite—no effective action on climate change and a direct cost to Australian families with no assistance and a worse cost of living. We will keep working with Australian families and we will get this job done.