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Monday, 1 December 2008
Page: 11891

Mr IAN MACFARLANE (3:31 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the article in today’s Newcastle Herald which says up to 36,000 jobs in the Hunter region would be put at risk by Labor’s emissions trading scheme. Will the Prime Minister be prepared to guarantee these 36,000 workers and their families that their jobs are indeed secure and that their industries are viable?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —The government takes seriously the future pressures and stresses which will be placed on employment in Australia. That is why we have embraced and implemented an Economic Security Strategy of $10.4 billion, which is capable of generating some 75,000 jobs. That is why, as the second part of our Economic Security Strategy, we have also embraced a car plan for the future of $6.2 billion to support an industry which currently employs some 200,000 Australians. Thirdly, that is why we have embraced our local government infrastructure program in our arrangements with local authorities when we convened recently here in Canberra. Fourthly, there is the outcome of the Council of Australian Governments of $15.1 billion in additional funding capable of generating employment, again, of some 133,000 jobs over the period covered by the agreements.

When it comes to the future of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme the government in the development of its strategy has been entirely mindful of, firstly, dealing with the challenges we all face with the future of greenhouse gas emissions and, secondly, doing so in an economically responsible fashion. I contrast that with the government that we replaced which, after 12 years in office, did absolutely nothing, including failing to ratify Kyoto, failing to take any concrete action in terms of the finalisation of an emissions trading scheme and failing to act at any real level of policy. Internally throughout that period the Liberal Party and the National Party were split right down the middle on the question of climate change, replete with climate change sceptics across their joint party room, and that remains the case today, particularly led by my good friend the member for Groom, who is kind of the climate change sceptic from Central Casting. If you want a climate change sceptic, go to the member for Groom—I know this bloke very well. He has never believed in climate change from day one and that remains his position today.

In designing the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme the government has produced a green paper. We have outlined there our approach in obtaining the right balance between protecting the environment through proper attention to bringing down greenhouse gas emissions in the future for Australia and internationally and, at the same time, bringing about appropriate structural adjustments for Australian industry. We are entirely mindful of getting that balance right. In 12 months we have travelled further than the previous government travelled in 12 years on this not just through the ratification of the Kyoto protocol—

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Those on my left will come to order.

Mr RUDD —It is wonderful to hear the climate change sceptics from Central Casting howling.

The SPEAKER —The Prime Minister will bring his answer to a conclusion.

Mr RUDD —We have a clear-cut strategy for the future. We will get the balance right.

The SPEAKER —The Prime Minister will resume his seat. Has the Prime Minister concluded?