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Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Page: 11396

Carbon Pricing

Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (14:22): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline for the House the importance to our economy of putting a price on carbon pollution? What would be the consequence of failing to charge the biggest polluters?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:22): I thank the member for Robertson for what is a very important question, because tomorrow in this House we will vote on one of the most important economic reforms in a generation, and it is going to be a test for each and every one of us in this House. Are we going to face up to the climate science and do something about carbon pollution? Are we going to face up to the fact that we should not leave for our children and our grandchildren greater costs and the heavy burden of carbon pollution? And are we going to show the Australian people and subsequent generations that we have the guts to face up to the tough economic reforms that will deliver prosperity for future generations?

As for us on this side of the House, we are going to act on all of those challenges because we understand that in the 21st century to be a first-class economy you must be powered by clean energy. That is why it is so important that we do put a price on every tonne of carbon pollution emitted by the biggest polluters. We on this side of the House understand that we need to send a price signal to drive the investment in clean energy and in renewable energy. We understand the importance of that in the 21st century if we want to continue to be a strong economy.

One of the reasons that Australia is so strong, one of the reasons that the International Monetary Fund gives our economy such a big tick, is that governments over the past 25 to 30 years have had the guts to face up to the big economic reforms. That is why we are strong now; that is why we are resilient now—because governments took the long-term view. And the long-term view is the one that is right for our country. It may not be the most immediately politically popular course of action, but it is right for our country. That is why we on this side of the House will be supporting a clean energy future tomorrow when those critical votes come through. Those on the opposite side of the House will be saying no as they constantly do, turning their back on the future, turning their back on their children and their grandchildren, turning their back on future economic prosperity. All of the modelling shows that our economy can grow strongly with a price on carbon, that incomes can grow strongly while putting a price on carbon pollution.

And we know what those opposite will also do. They will rip away the essential tax reforms that we are putting in place—essential reforms which will see another one million people taken out of the tax system because we are going to triple the tax-free threshold. They will take the claw out and claw that back. What those opposite will also do is claw back the pension increases. They will claw them back because they do not have a positive approach to the future. They want to turn their back on the future, rip away that assistance and ignore what must be done to grow our economy, to grow jobs and to ensure future prosperity. They only know one course of action. That is to say no, to wreck and to turn their back on the future.