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Tuesday, 1 December 2015
Page: 9390

Climate Change

Senator RONALDSON (Victoria) (14:06): My question is to the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann, representing the Treasurer. Can the minister inform the Senate of what impact an emissions reduction target in Australia of 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 would have on our economy?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:06): I thank Senator Ronaldson for that question. Labor's latest thought bubble—coming up with a proposal to increase our emissions reduction target to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030—if implemented, would damage the economy and cost jobs. Labor know this, because they actually conducted modelling while in government which shows exactly that.

It would take about $600 billion out of the economy in just 15 years. So Labor's plan, so to speak, would shrink the economy by $600 billion over the next 15 years. I am not [inaudible]. When we came into government, we had a carbon tax which was heading towards $30 a tonne and rising beyond. Under Bill Shorten, we have the $209 CST—the Bill Shorten carbon supertax. This is a great big new tax on everything that Labor want to bring back. Never mind $30 a tonne; a $209 CST. A $209 carbon supertax is what Australians would get under Labor.

What it would do is cut people's wages by about $4,900 a year by 2030. It would push up the cost of electricity by about 78 per cent by 2030. And, of course, this is not everything. What it would actually do, like the Labor Green carbon tax of old—the one when it was just heading to $30 a tonne—is shift jobs and emissions overseas. It would actually not help to reduce emissions in the world. It might reduce emissions in Australia, because Labor would be shrinking the economy, but it would just shift those emissions and those jobs to other parts of the world where there would be higher emissions for the same amount of economic output.

Senator RONALDSON (Victoria) (14:08): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Further to that answer, can I ask the minister what would such a 45 per cent emissions reduction target mean for Australian jobs, Australian families and Australian businesses?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:09): The Shorten carbon supertax would be a tax on jobs; it would be a tax on families. It would of course lead to fewer jobs in Australia and more jobs overseas, where our competitors would be able to take market share away from us. But of course families across Australia would have to pay about 78 per cent more for electricity prices. Do not take my word for it; that is actually what Labor's own modelling in government showed.

As the Minerals Council of Australia quite rightly said, 'The 45 per cent target is not based on detailed economic analysis of its impact on growth, living standards and energy costs'—a very, very accurate observation. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said, 'Labor's newly announced proposal to double cuts to emissions to 45 per cent by 2030 with a long-term target of net zero emissions by 2050 was not backed by a credible plan that protects economic growth.'

Senator RONALDSON (Victoria) (14:10): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I thank the minister. Can I ask the minister how this government is strengthening growth to create more and better jobs while taking a responsible approach to emissions reductions in Australia?

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:10): I thank Senator Ronaldson for that supplementary. The government have put in place, and are putting forward in Paris, an emissions reduction target range of 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Our targets are appropriately ambitious and responsible, and they are achievable because we have got a plan to deliver them. At the heart of that plan is our emissions reduction fund, which actually will help to reduce emissions in Australia in a way that will achieve a net reduction in emissions around the world.

Senator Lines interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Lines!

Senator CORMANN: The emissions reduction fund will actually help to deliver emissions reductions in Australia without shifting jobs to other parts of the world, without undermining the competitiveness of Australian industry. It will help to deliver emissions reductions at the lowest possible cost while actually encouraging stronger growth and the creation of more and better jobs.

Senator Ronaldson: Mr President, I rise on a point of order. I asked a very serious question and I cannot hear the minister's answer.

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left! Senator Ronaldson raises a very good point of order. The noise is unacceptable and I would ask senators to stop interjecting. Minister, you have two seconds left.

Senator CORMANN: Our plan is environmentally effective and economically responsible.