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Thursday, 16 February 2012
Page: 1648

Carbon Pricing

Mr HUNT (Flinders) (14:06): My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister of the comments of John Hannagan, local chairman of the world's largest aluminium company:

China is now the major competitor in both smelting and refining. Future investment will go offshore.

Given that the Treasury modelling shows a 61 per cent decline in aluminium production under the carbon tax, how many warnings does the Prime Minister need before she acknowledges that the only way to prevent aluminium jobs going to China is to scrap the world's biggest carbon tax?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:07): In answer to the member's question I would remind him that there was a time when the Liberal Party was more honest with the Australian people about how to achieve change in our economy and how to deal with carbon pricing. I refer the member to the words of John Howard.

Mr Hockey interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for North Sydney will be more restrained.

Ms GILLARD: I presume that the modern-day Liberal Party will catcall through the words of John Howard, because they have repudiated him on the question of carbon pricing. Former Prime Minister Howard said:

Significantly reducing emissions will mean higher costs for businesses and households, there is no escaping that and anyone who pretends to do otherwise is not a serious participant in this hugely important public policy debate.

He has described the modern-day Liberal Party as not being serious participants in this public policy debate. As part of their fear campaign they pretend that you can address carbon pricing without costs.

Mr Hunt: Mr Speaker, a point of order on relevance: with great respect, the question was about aluminium jobs.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister was skating very close to the borders of relevance. I would ask the Prime Minister to return and be directly relevant.

Ms GILLARD: I am directing my comments to the question on carbon pricing and jobs. I was quoting former Prime Minister Howard, because he was alerting the Australian nation to the fact that when you deal with these big public policy questions you have to be very clear about the best way to do it and be very honest about the costs. We have been very clear about the best way to do it, how to do it at the least possible cost to the economy and how that will mean that our economy continues to grow, that jobs continue to grow, that income per person continues to grow. As we go about this process of change we will be working to support those industries that are on a journey of change, including aluminium. In that regard I would point to today's media release of the relevant minister, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, announcing the terms and conditions of the way $1 billion will be used to help Australian manufacturing move to a clean energy future.

In asking the question, the member is assuming that somehow there is some costless way of dealing with climate change. He should be honest about the fact that the coalition has selected the most costly way you can possibly go about it. If he was worried about aluminium, if he was worried about jobs, if he was worried about our economy he would be walking to the dispatch box and recanting the rubbish that is coalition policy today and re-endorsing the words of former Prime Minister Howard. But no-one in the modern Liberal Party will ever do that.

Mr Hunt: I seek leave to table Table 5.7 from the Treasury modelling, which refers to the 61 per cent loss of aluminium jobs in the government's own modelling.

Leave not granted.