House debates

Monday, 28 February 2011

Gillard Government

Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders

3:03 pm

Photo of Julia GillardJulia Gillard (Lalor, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | Hansard source

The Leader of the Opposition’s track record is of higher taxes. Of course, we know that he loves the levies if they are to pay for his election promises; he just hates them when they are to rebuild Queensland.

So there are no facts in this, and there is no future in this either—no future at all. Our nation is at an important crossroad about whether we have a clean energy economy for the future, with all of the jobs that that implies, or whether we get stuck in the past; whether we stump up to the challenge of this parliament to price carbon in the way that earlier parliaments stumped up to challenges like reducing tariffs, floating the dollar and creating the GST. We have to decide whether this parliament can stump up to this challenge.

Just like the challenges in the past, it is easy to raise fear. It is easy to go out into communities and say to people, ‘You’ll pay more.’ It is easy to say to people, ‘Your jobs are at risk.’ Fear campaigns are easy. What is harder, but what is ultimately right, is doing the reform work that makes us a prosperous nation for the long term. I am glad we had the courage as a nation to step up to the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s, and we do not have less courage now than we had then. We are a creative, confident people. This is a big challenge but we can get it done. The Leader of the Opposition, as that challenge confronts, just says, ‘Believe in fear.’ I actually believe in the capacities of the Australian people: the capacity to innovate, the capacity to live in a way that is generating less carbon pollution and the capacity to create the clean energy jobs of the future. I believe in the skills and abilities of Australians to do just that.

Today we have seen the most grossly irresponsible statement made by a national political leader in the last 15 years. I campaigned against the GST, but once it was implemented I understood how devastating it would be for businesses to try to take it away. What the Leader of the Opposition has said today is that, if this parliament successfully embraces the opportunities of the future and prices carbon, he will go to the next election sweeping that away, with all of the consequences that will have for business certainty and for the loss of jobs that that will create. People who have moved into the renewables sector, people who have got themselves the skills they will need for the future—their jobs and prospects are to be trashed by this Leader of the Opposition. He talks about cost of living pressures on Australian households, but he has guaranteed today that if he is elected at the next election he will smash carbon pricing and he will rip out of the hands of Australians the generous household assistance we have put into their hands. He will go to the next election promising to make Australians worse off and to take away from them household assistance that will come with carbon pricing.

No-one should believe the Leader of the Opposition’s fear campaign. He believes in nothing. He stands for nothing. He has no facts to support his case and he has no ideas for the nation’s future. On this side of the parliament we have the courage to act. We understand what needs to be done. We must price carbon. We have worked with people of goodwill to work out how in this parliament, the parliament that the Australian people voted for, we will price carbon. I have done that just as prime ministers in the past have done that, just as Prime Minister Howard sat down with Meg Lees to negotiate the GST—working with people of goodwill to get a major economic reform through this parliament. We will bring in carbon pricing. It will create clean energy jobs. It will transform our economy. We will give households generous assistance. We will meet this challenge that our age requires us to stump up to. I will make this prediction: Australians are growing tired of the Leader of the Opposition’s scare campaign. They know: day 1, you go out and you try to engender a bit of fear, and people get a bit scared; day 365, you go out and engender a bit of fear, then it is starting to wear off. To the Leader of the Opposition I say: what will you say to Australians when we price carbon, when Australian households have received the generous assistance we will give them, when the system is working? How will he look then? He will look then as he looks now: a hollow man, worried about his political interest, with no ideas for the nation’s future.


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