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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 2129

Senator FARRELL (South AustraliaParliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water) (15:16): I would like to take note of the comments that Senator Brandis and Senator Boswell made on essentially the preposterous proposition—

Senator Brandis: Keep a straight face while you say that!

Senator FARRELL: You can laugh, Senator Brandis, but this is an absolutely—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: On a point of order, Senator Brandis?

Senator Brandis: Mr Deputy President, I just want those listening to this broadcast to know that Senator Farrell is not saying this with a straight face. He is as amused by the irony of his own remarks as everybody else in the chamber.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: There is no point of order, Senator Brandis. Before I call you again, Senator Farrell, would you address your remarks to the chair, and you are speaking on the motion taking note of the answers by ministers, not opposition senators.

Senator FARRELL: Thank you, Deputy President. If I was smiling, as I am sure I was, it was because I was laughing at the comments of Senator Brandis and Senator Boswell, in particular the proposition that somehow the decision of Minister Burke in relation to this particular project is in any way casting doubt on the support that this government has given to the mining industry in this country. This is but one of very many mining projects that the federal government has supported in the past and has continued to support today, including, in my own state, the Olympic Dam project, which the government gave approval for and the only decision it is now waiting upon is a decision by BHP as to when they will proceed with that great project. In terms of jobs and development in this country, that is going to be one of many magnificent projects which this government has supported and will continue to support into the future. So I reject any suggestion that there is in any way a reflection on what this government is seeking to do in terms of the mining industry.

I would also like to pick up on some of the points that have been made in relation to the price on carbon. One of the suggestions that has been made in the last 24 hours is that the price that this government has set for carbon is going to be too high. The $23 price—

Senator Brandis: Mr Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: I am a little reluctant to interrupt Senator Farrell but perhaps he is under a misunderstanding. The motion is to take note of the answer of Senator Conroy to the question asked of him by Senator Boswell; it is not a motion to take note of other answers given to other questions today. Even applying the broad test of relevance, I think the bare-rumped sheathtail bat is something of a stretch too far for the European carbon price to be relevant.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Brandis, I listened very carefully and Senator Boswell did say that the motion was to take note of the answers of Senator Conroy and other ministers, so Senator Farrell is relevant. Senator Farrell, you have the call.

Senator FARRELL: Thank you for that clarification, Mr Deputy President. That is a point I would have made myself but I am still laughing at Senator Brandis's earlier comments about our attitude to that bauxite mine in Queensland. I think it is worth making a point about the decision of the federal government to impose a $23 tax on carbon and the suggestion that that is too high. I want to point out some of the figures that other countries, including countries that are part of the G20, have imposed in pricing carbon.

In the case of Britain, my understanding is that they will have a carbon price of between $24 and $30 per tonne. Obviously that is higher than we are proposing in Australia. In Scandinavia, Sweden is proposing a price of $130 per tonne. In Switzerland, also a modern industrial country, they are proposing a price of between $30 and—

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting