House debates

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


Carbon Pricing

3:44 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the House) Share this | Hansard source

Besa Deda, chief economist at St George, Saul Eslake, Bill Evans, Joshua Gans, Richard Gibbs, Stephen Grenville, Stephen Halmarick, John Hewson, Raja Junankar, Geoff Weir, Glenn Withers—every respectable economist in this country knows that the way to get action is to put a price on carbon. It is one thing that those opposite are climate sceptics but it is another thing altogether that they are also market sceptics—they are also sceptical about the role of the market.

One would have thought that the Leader of the Opposition might have been a bit nervous about going on 7.30. Remember that during the election campaign he went on there and said to the whole world that they could not believe a thing he said unless it was in writing? Since then he has walked away even from that commitment. Last night he had another shocker. I predict this will be his annual appearance on 7.30he has not been on there all year, up till now. He was asked:

But in the end, do you agree that the budget's funded by taxes, so there will be a carbon tax?

That is, under his scheme. Tony Abbott replied:

Look, I accept that everything has a cost …

He has acknowledged that the difference between the government's position and the opposition's is that we want to put a price on carbon for the top 1,000 polluters and give assistance with that money to ordinary Australian households, to families and to industries and support action on climate change while those opposite want to tax ordinary working families through the tax system in order to give subsidies to the big polluters. That is what this debate is about, pure and simple. But there is more. Their so-called direct action plan—the one that is going to have trees planted in an area greater than the size of Germany—does have in it a bit of detail. Under 'Operation of Fund', on page 14, it mentions something that we have not heard them talk about. They want to keep it a secret. Because I have an interest in this policy I am one of the few people to have read their document, if only for amusement. It says:

Businesses that undertake activity with an emissions level above their 'business as usual' levels will incur a financial penalty.

That sounds like a tax to me. It goes on:

The value of penalties will be on a sliding scale at levels commensurate with the size of the business and the extent to which they exceed their 'business as usual' levels.

That is there in their policy. We have not heard them talk about that up till now, have we? We have not heard them talk about that because this man opposite is the only living Liberal leader who is opposed to a price on carbon. We know that he is all opposition and no leader, all division and no vision. He is the stuntman of Australian politics who yesterday, two weeks after he said he would be in here to move his private member's bill that he would not be bound by, came in here and had his five minutes. The bill will be deferred until sometime in August for a vote. He is so committed to this great plebiscite that he could not get through the first interview without saying that he would not even be bound by it.

This inconsistent rank opportunist of an opposition leader simply should be rejected for his failure to come up with substance. It is consistent—we have heard it all before. Does this sound familiar: 'People will go towards Christmas without having a job. Kids will not be enjoying the Christmas they have been used to. But all of this is irrelevant because we are on an ideological kick here'? Who said that? The member for Mackellar. When did she say it? In 1992. What was she talking about? Compulsory superannuation. It was going to wreck the economy. Opening up Australia to globalisation was going to wreck the economy. Every major reform put forward by Labor—because it is only Labor that has the courage to tackle the big issues—has been opposed by those opposite with rank, hysterical opportunism.

What we know is that the Leader of the Opposition—the walking vuvuzela of Australian politics—is committed to one thing because he only has one tune: no, no, no, no, no. He does it over and over again, no matter what the issue. There is no opportunity to put forward a serious alternative vision, and it is no wonder that so many of his own team are embarrassed by the position that they are now putting forward: rejecting the science of climate change and the need for action. (Time expired)

Question put:

That the motion (Mr Abbott's) be agreed to.

The House divided. [15:59]

(The Speaker—Hon. Harry Jenkins)

Question negatived.


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