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Monday, 28 February 2011
Page: 1573

Ms O’NEILL (2:12 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Why is setting a carbon price the most efficient way to cut carbon pollution, and why is it vital for creating certainty for future investment?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for her question. I know that she is deeply concerned, living as she does in a very beautiful part of the world, about carbon pollution and she is also very concerned about economic prospects for the future.

We live in a country that has abundant sources of renewable energy: solar, wind, geothermal, tidal—abundant sources of renewable energy. As a country, we therefore can profit by having a clean energy future, by innovating and by having the jobs of the future. It is not in the interests of our nation to be left behind as the world changes. We need to cut carbon pollution. Despite the Leader of the Opposition’s ability to wreck and destroy things, one thing he has not wrecked as yet is a bipartisan commitment to a minus five per cent reduction in carbon pollution by 2020. In order to reach that reduction in carbon pollution, we need to price carbon. To do anything else would be costly and inefficient. I refer of course to the words that were written in the incoming government briefs, and the Leader of the Opposition received this and would have seen their words: ‘Direct action measures alone cannot do the job’—that is, of cutting carbon pollution by minus five per cent—‘without imposing significant economic and budget costs.’

Indeed, the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency has estimated that even with the Leader of the Opposition’s direct actions measures emissions will rise 17 per cent above 2000 levels, whereas the target is minus five. What does that mean for the difference? That means the Leader of the Opposition’s plan to deal with climate change is to buy $20 billion in carbon credits to meet the gap between where his direct action measures take you to and the minus five per cent target. That is in addition to the $10.5 billion he has pledged in direct action measures and, of course, it is in addition to his $11 billion black hole from his reckless election accounting.

When you add all of that up it means the Leader of the Opposition’s strategy for climate change is to make households worse off by around $600 a year. There is no such thing as a no-cost approach, and what the Leader of the Opposition wants to do is make households worse off by $600 a year.

On this side of the parliament we stand for pricing carbon in the most efficient way. If you are pricing carbon in the most efficient way then you are putting a price on carbon through a market mechanism, through trading permits to release carbon pollution. That is what the government went to the last election saying to the Australian people we should do and that is exactly what we are going to do.

Today before question time the Leader of the Opposition has confirmed that he now holds the most reckless political position taken by a national leader in the last 15 years. After we have priced carbon, given businesses certainty and households assistance, he is committed to ripping all of that up—the most reckless political position taken by a national leader in 15 years. We will be holding him to account for that every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year, and Australians will see exactly how wrong and reckless he is.