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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 171

Mr ABBOTT (Leader of the Opposition) (2:00 PM) —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister advise the House of the cost of living impact on Australian families of a $40 a tonne carbon price?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question. If the Leader of the Opposition is genuinely interested in these matters, then I ask him to respond positively to my invitation to members of the opposition who accept that climate change is real and who accept that pricing carbon is necessary for us to achieve our emissions reduction objectives to join the climate change committee.

The government have seized the opportunities that we believe this new parliament presents to work in a methodical way when considering all of the options for pricing carbon. It is not going to be easy, but I believe you can achieve things when people work together in a spirit of good faith. I understand that the opposition is going to invite me to engage in a series of rule-in, rule-out games about what will be considered during this process and I am not going to do it. There is not a company board or an executive committee of a local tennis or cricket club in this country that takes options off the table before they go and sit down to work through issues. We are going to go through a proper process with the multiparty committee. Of course, the government will then make the final decisions about what the government’s position will be, but we will go through this process step by step in good faith. I have written to the Leader of the Opposition about it and I ask him to embrace this positive opportunity, rather than seek to be a wrecker on this question which is so important to Australians.

Mr ABBOTT —Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question under the standing orders. I refer to the Prime Minister’s answer where she said that she did not want to play rule-in, rule-out games. I also refer her to her statement just a day before the election where she said, ‘I rule out a carbon tax.’ I ask the Prime Minister why she has broken her election promise.

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the opposition for pursuing this matter—I genuinely do. The Leader of the Opposition may have noticed that following the election on 21 August the Australian people voted for this chamber. This means that there needs to be consensus and collaboration—

Dr Jensen interjecting

The SPEAKER —The member for Tangney is warned.

Ms GILLARD —and that we will need to work together and, particularly in relation to very complex propositions, that the executive government cannot come into this chamber with a piece of legislation and expect it to be automatically passed. I have accepted that new reality. I have heard the message from the Australian people. I understand that this is the parliament that Australians voted for. And, given that this is the parliament that Australians voted for, I think we are honour-bound to explore the potential that this parliament—

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop interjecting

The SPEAKER —The Prime Minister will resume her seat. The member for Mackellar will withdraw.

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop —I withdraw, Mr Speaker.

Ms GILLARD —Having listened to the voice of the Australian people when they created this parliament and understanding what this parliament means, we will work through the processes of the multiparty committee in good faith. I reiterate to the Leader of the Opposition that he has a pivotal decision about whether or not he wants to be involved in a productive process of dialogue and discussion. Yes, he would need to acknowledge climate change is real. Yes, he would need to acknowledge that putting a price on carbon is necessary to reduce emissions in the way this nation has said it wants to by 2020. At various times the Leader of the Opposition has said things like that. So I ask the Leader of the Opposition to seize this opportunity. He could, for example, appoint the member for Wentworth to serve in good faith on behalf of the opposition in this multiparty committee. I reiterate again: please consider the possibility of being a builder, not a wrecker, in this parliament. I say to the Leader of the Opposition that I do not believe that Australians elected any one of us in this place to be a wrecker of the potential for change.