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Monday, 28 February 2011
Page: 1572

Mr TRUSS (2:08 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the statement by the member for Melbourne on Friday: ‘The agreement that we’ve reached has transport as being included in a carbon price mechanism.’ Has the Greens member for Melbourne been more honest than the Prime Minister with the Australian people by at least admitting that the Greens have forced her to include petrol in her carbon tax?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the Leader of the National Party for his question. What I would say to the Leader of the National Party is what I have said publicly on a number of occasions now, which is: decisions will be worked through by the government and in the multiparty climate change committee about sectors of the economy that the carbon price will apply to, including whether or not it will apply to petrol. Those decisions are still to come. I indicated when statements were made, and reported in the media, on Saturday by the Deputy Leader of the Greens that it was inappropriate to be making those statements when those decisions and discussions were yet to come. But, given that the Leader of the National Party has raised with me statements made by people about carbon pricing, I have actually got a few of them he might be interested in. The Leader of the Opposition said:

If you want to put a price on carbon why not just do it with a simple tax?

Opposition members interjecting—

Ms GILLARD —Yes, we know you are embarrassed—

Mr Pyne —A point of order, Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER —The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his place. The Manager of Opposition Business is warned—on the fact that he was at the dispatch box for a point of order and did not take the point of order; that is why he is warned. To anticipate the point of order: the words used by the Prime Minister are very much the old parliament. If a statement was referred to, it used to be able to be construed as relevant to a question to then refer to other statements. But for statements to be used they must refer directly to the question and not be used just because they are statements.

Ms GILLARD —Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and thank you for that clarification. Of course, the words of the Leader of the Opposition are always strictly irrelevant to national debates; I do understand and accept your guidance on that.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister will go to the question.

Ms GILLARD —The Leader of the National Party raises with me decisions that are yet to come on questions like carbon pricing and petrol. I can assure the Leader of the National Party that, as we go about making these decisions, we will do it in Australia’s national interest. I can also assure the Leader of the National Party that that approach will be in stark contrast to the approach ever taken by the opposition, because whether you make decisions in the national interest or in the political interest has been clarified by the Leader of the Opposition. He said about climate change:

I don’t think my assessment of the science or of the policies ever changed that much. I think all that really changed was my assessment of the politics of the issue.

Hollow to the core.