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Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Page: 8352

Carbon Pricing

Mr TRUSS (Wide BayLeader of The Nationals) (14:52): My question is to the Prime Minister. I ask the Prime Minister to confirm that under her carbon tax a business that emits 24,999 tonnes of CO2 will not have to purchase any carbon permits, but a business that emits one tonne more will have to pay over half a million dollars in carbon permits. Will the Prime Minister explain why any company in that position would ever bother to grow in this country?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:53): Here we once again have the opposition trying to induce confusion and continuing its campaign of misrepresentation against carbon pricing. We saw it in the last parliamentary session, we saw it across the winter recess and of course we are seeing it again in question time today. It is exactly the same type of misrepresentation we saw when the Leader of the Opposition was saying that coal would be out of business—he was wrong—and steel would be out of business—and he was wrong. He said that cost of living increases would be astronomical—and he was wrong. We have seen all of this play out day after day.

To the member's question, what I would say, of course, is that the scheme has been designed so that it is the generators of the most pollution, the biggest polluters, who pay. It has been designed to do that. If the member who asked the question somehow now has a perspective that the scheme should be more broadly based then that would truly be an eccentric move by the opposition. But, given we have heard different things on different occasions about all aspects of the scheme, I am not surprised. What the calculation about the amount of carbon pollution relates to is the amount of carbon pollution generated at a site. What happens is that, in terms of the carbon pollution, a price is paid, and businesses will adapt, they will innovate and they will reduce the amount of carbon pollution.

The member then seems to conclude that all of this somehow adds up to less economic growth. The Leader of the Opposition has apparently finally found the detailed documents about carbon pricing. I would refer the member who asked the question to those detailed documents because of what they show—that is, continued economic growth—

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister will resume her seat. The member for Sturt will withdraw.

Mr Pyne: I withdraw, Mr Speaker, but I did not say anything—

The SPEAKER: Order! There is no need to qualify it. The Prime Minister.

Ms GILLARD: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I have actually got this document and I am going to go to it in one second, so thank you very much for drawing attention to that.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister will resume her seat until the House comes to order.

Ms GILLARD: What I was saying was that the member should refer to the detailed documents about carbon pricing. He seems to have assumed that somehow our economy will cease to grow. Of course, that is completely untrue. Our economy will grow and there will be 1.6 million more jobs between now and 2020.

Given the member has taken an interest in this matter, I would refer him to his own policy, which says:

Businesses that undertake activity with an emissions level above their 'business as usual' levels will incur a financial penalty. The value of penalties will be on a sliding scale at levels commensurate with the size of the business and the extent to which they exceed their 'business as usual' levels.

So, to the member who has asked the question, am I to assume that he is now campaigning against the coalition's so-called direct action policy, because it would be as consistent as anything else the coalition has done on carbon pricing.