Wednesday, 19 June 2013
The world is changing, and Australia faces many challenges and big opportunities in the years ahead: an ageing population, increased global competition, environmental degradation, keeping the economy strong beyond the mining boom, a future for manufacturing and rapidly developing technologies in the Asian Century. To meet these challenges, Labor is pursuing policies that Australia needs for the future and putting a price on carbon.
Electricity generators, steel manufacturers and other large industrial concerns pay a carbon price. Almost every advanced economy in the world already has a price on carbon or is putting one in place. Anyone who looks at the spread of carbon markets will find countries in Europe—Norway, Iceland, Switzerland—New Zealand, China, South Korea, California and Quebec will know that a carbon price is here to stay as the principal mechanism for the world to avert dangerous climate change. The efficient generation and supply of energy is integral to business and trade and for creating goods, jobs and services. It underpins our high standard of living as well as our world-class health and education systems—the services we depend on for our daily activities.
Figures from the Clean Energy Regulator indicate that, as of March, over one million homes had been equipped with solar panels on their roofs, providing power to around 2.5 million Australians as well as producing savings on electricity bills amounting to approximately half a billion dollars. This is quite remarkable. The Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, David Green, pointed to this stunning increase in residential solar systems that Australia has witnessed in just the past half decade. I note that this has risen from 7,000 systems under former Prime Minister Howard to one million under the Labor government.
Australia's energy sector has entered a period of unprecedented transformation and expansion. Over the next two decades, our energy future will be shaped by the ongoing need to provide reliable, affordable energy to our growing economy, as well as capturing export opportunities in the rapidly expanding markets of our region. We must continue the necessary transformation to a clean energy economy, and this is under threat if a coalition government is elected in September.
Political leaders who are afraid to deal with climate change, like those sitting opposite, are risking our children's future for their own political gain. I have sensed within the Liberal Party in that they are running away from, 'I'll stop the boats' and 'the market price on carbon'—remarkable, considering the Leader of the Opposition did say that climate change science is 'highly contentious and the argument is absolute crap'. Indeed, he said that, from 1 July, price rises will be 'unimaginable'; that this would act like a 'wrecking ball' through the entire economy and cause 'wholesale wealth destruction'; that coal, steel, aluminium and motor industries will be destroyed; hundreds of thousands of jobs would be lost; and entire towns, like Whyalla, will be wiped off the map. He is a first-class political opportunist, and Australians deserve better.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the carbon price would be 'the death of the coal industry', and following that statement one in six opposition members bought shares in coal or resource companies—the member for Wentworth, Senator Cash, Senator Fisher, Senator Humphries, the member for Stirling, the member for Brisbane, the member for Flynn, Senator Ronaldson, the member for Fadden, Senator Johnson and the member for Kooyong. My advice is follow the money and find the truth.
Since the carbon price started on 1 July, emissions of the national electricity market are down 7.4 per cent; renewable energy is up almost 30 per cent; the economy is growing—the national accounts show our real GDP has grown at an annualised rate of 2.5 per cent; more than 150,000 new jobs have been created; inflation is contained; and the impact of cost of living is lower than expected.
As a government, we support the vulnerable. If a Liberal government are returned in September and as they have been asking this government to resign for three years, I look forward to their written commitment to resigning if they do not implement their 'fraudband', they do not stop the boats, they do not turn the boats around, they do not remove the price on carbon, they do not remove the increased tax-free threshold, they do not remove the Gonski funding, they do not remove the marine park network, they do not remove the increased superannuation and they do not remove assistance to the automotive industry. We are in a changing world. We know that if you earn less than $80,000 a year, or you are a pensioner, you will be ripped off under this tea-party, Hooverite Liberal Party.