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Monday, 28 February 2011
Page: 1571

Mr CHAMPION (2:04 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. How will a carbon price help Australia become a clean energy nation, and why is this reform needed?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I was in the electorate of the member for Wakefield today, and I was there for a very important announcement. I was there for the rolling off of the production line of the first Holden Cruze—a smaller, greener vehicle being manufactured by Holden in this country. When I had the great privilege of actually turning the key and driving that first Holden Cruze off the production line, I reflected to myself on fear campaigns past. The member for Wakefield and other members of this House would recall when the Hawke government set about modernising our economy and cutting tariffs. People were out there beating the drums of fear. They were saying, ‘What this means is Australia will be a bankrupt place. Industry will suffer. There will be no jobs. We will never manufacture things in this country.’ But cutting tariffs sent a price signal to Australian industry to get more efficient. Here we are, all these years later, and what has Holden done? It has got more efficient and it is a great tribute to its workforce that it has engaged in those efficiencies, a great tribute to management and a great tribute to the relevant unions, all of which have worked together to keep Holden manufacturing here—and now proudly manufacturing the new Holden Cruze.

What we should learn from this is the lesson of history, that fear campaigns are just that and that fear campaigns appeal to people because they want them to be afraid of the future. But, really, we want to build a future that has a clean energy economy with jobs. We are a confident people. We have engaged in major economic reforms before, and the legacy of those major economic reforms is a more prosperous country with higher-skilled jobs—an Australia that can make its way in the world. We are up to doing that again. Carbon pollution is the challenge of our age, just the way tariffs were the challenge of the Hawke-Keating era, and we are up to meeting this challenge.

That is why I am determined that we will price carbon, that we will cut carbon pollution. That will send a price signal, which means people will respond. Businesses will innovate; they will become cleaner and greener. We will have a clean energy future with all of the jobs that go with it. I can confidently say to this parliament today that, after we have priced carbon and this system has come into effect, people will look back at this fear campaign by the Leader of the Opposition and they will look at him the way the future always looks at people who miss the wave of history—people who misjudge the big calls. They will look at him as an ultimately hollow person who sought to profit from fear but ultimately did not. We will get on with creating the clean energy jobs of the future, the Australian prosperity of the future. Australians are too smart, too confident, too worldly and they have been through too much in terms of major economic reform to succumb to this cheap, empty fear campaign.