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Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Page: 832


Senator WORTLEY (3:20 PM) —I rise to take note of answers provided by Ministers Wong, Carr and Evans today. It appears as though those people opposite were not listening to the answers provided. They have just gone off at their own tangent. A carbon price is a major economic reform that will create an incentive to reduce pollution and drive investment in renewable energy and low emissions technologies. The government recognises the concerns of industry in adapting to a clean energy future and adopting carbon pricing. However, the introduction of a price on carbon is an essential economic reform that will help Australian business, industry and communities to combat future challenges. Origin Energy, in a media release, said:

To drive a switch to lower carbon options in the electricity market, the fundamental requirements are a clear and credible long-term pricing framework and a carbon price that makes a real difference to investment decisions. Today’s announcement is a very positive start …

In another press release, the Clean Energy Council said:

... today’s announcement was an important step forwards in locking in long term investment certainty for both the clean energy industry and the power sector as a whole.

 “A carbon price must be the cornerstone of any effective climate change strategy” ...

The Multi-Party Climate Change Committee has agreed on the principle that appropriate account will be taken of the impacts on the competitiveness of all Australian industries, having regard to the carbon prices of other countries while maintaining incentives to reduce pollution. Meeting Australia’s emissions reduction target without having a price on carbon would be more costly than doing it by harnessing the power of a carbon price.

A price on carbon is the most efficient and effective way to reduce carbon pollution. It will create incentives throughout the economy for people to reduce carbon emissions, either through adopting existing technologies and practices or by finding smart and innovative new ways of doing it. The Climate Institute’s Clean energy jobs in regional Australia report, released on Monday, 28 February, predicts that a substantial carbon price would trigger tens of billions of dollars of investment in geothermal, large-scale solar, bioenergy, hydro, wind and gas. This is important work and it highlights the opportunities that could be created for Australian manufacturers in these emerging industries.


Senator Cormann —Why didn’t you say that during the election campaign?


Senator WORTLEY —On that point, we have always been clear—before, during and since the election campaign—that we want to, need to and must tackle the issue of climate change. Unless those on the other side have been living under rocks—


Senator Cormann interjecting—


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Trood)—Senator Cormann, a little restraint is in order in these circumstances.


Senator WORTLEY —Unless those opposite have been living under rocks without radios, televisions, newspapers or internet access, then they should know that Labor advocated long and hard for a carbon pricing regime between 2007 and 2010. Everyone in this chamber is aware of that. And it is what we spoke to the Australian community about during the 2010 election. We have always been upfront that the best way to do this is through a price on carbon.

A carbon price is a price on pollution. The best way to stop businesses polluting and to get them to invest in clean energy is to charge them when they pollute. The businesses with the highest levels of pollution will have a very strong incentive to reduce their pollution. Make no mistake: those opposite do themselves and the Australian people no justice by running a scaremongering campaign.

This government is very conscious of the cost-of-living pressures facing Australian families. That is why we have already reduced the tax burden on families, we abolished Work Choices, we increased the pension, we increased the childcare rebate and we introduced the education tax refund. That is why we are delivering an increase of $4,000 in family tax benefit part A, extending the education tax refund to uniforms and providing the option for families to receive childcare rebate payments fortnightly. All of these initiatives are fully costed and fully funded. We also understand that central to dealing with the cost-of-living pressures on working Australians is the government’s plan for a stronger economy, because a stronger economy means more jobs and better wages. (Time expired)