Thursday, 28 October 2010
Questions without Notice
Emissions Trading Scheme
My question is to the Prime Minister. Given her previous answer that a carbon price is necessary for reform, why then did she pressure the former Prime Minister into dropping the emissions trading scheme?
I genuinely thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question because what it obviously enables me to advise the House and to remind the Leader of the Opposition—I am surprised he has forgotten—is that the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme did not become the law of this country because, despite a bipartisan commitment to it, negotiated when the member for Wentworth was the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Groom was conducting the negotiations—
The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme did not become the law of this country because, despite negotiating its provisions to ensure bipartisan support, when the member for Warringah became Leader of the Opposition he crashed the deal, a hand had been shaken, an agreement—
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I refer to the interpretation under the old rules of what is relevant. I note that the House of Representatives Practice says that even if the standing orders were changed, it would really need a change of opinion and attitude as to the nature of answers to bring about real change. The Prime Minister was asked why she heavied the former Prime Minister into dropping a policy. The answer she gave had nothing to do with the question at all and under the new rules, if they are to mean anything at all—
I have the point of order. The standing orders were changed to add that answers be directly relevant. She is correct, the House of Representatives Practice has indicated, as many people have indicated, that it will not only take a change of standing orders but a change of culture in the whole House to bring about the type of question time and proceedings in this place that many outside would like to see. I will be listening carefully to the Prime Minister’s response. I believe that so far she has been directly relevant, if not giving a direct answer, which the standing orders do not say that I have to ask for because I am not in a position to—and that is something that is also in the House of Representatives Practice. I will listen carefully to the Prime Minister’s response.
I am answering the question. The Leader of the Opposition appears to be interested in the history of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, and I would refer him to the words that I think are the best summation of the history of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and what happened to it. They are to be found in the blog of the member for Wentworth. The words say—it references ‘Tony’ but of course he is referring to the Leader of the Opposition—the Leader of the Opposition—
… himself has, in just four or five months, publicly advocated the blocking of the ETS, the passing of the ETS, the amending of the ETS and, if the amendments were satisfactory, passing—
Order! The Prime Minister will resume her seat. If people like the member for Dickson and the member for North Sydney want me to do the job as they expect, they could assist by not interjecting and allowing me to hear the answer. The Prime Minister will relate directly the comments that she is reading from this blog or not use them.
I am asked about the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and its history, and the words I am reading are the most accurate rendition of the history of this matter. The member for Wentworth goes on, after recording these five positions of the Leader of the Opposition:
the Leader of the Opposition’s—
only redeeming virtue in this remarkable lack of conviction is that every time he announced a new position to me he would preface it with “Mate, mate, I know I am a bit of a weather vane on this …”
For those interested in the history of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, that is it.
Order! The Prime Minister will temporarily resume her seat. I am trying to avoid using the word ‘paradigm’, but in the old paradigm this type of indirect relevance would have been allowed. But, as I said earlier, I have an expectation that the intention of the agreement was that there be less debate in answers. Whilst I was quite happy to allow the first part of this answer, because it could be seen to relate to changing circumstances of a point of policy, to go wider is fraught with danger. The Prime Minister has one minute, 53 seconds that she can choose to use. The Prime Minister will be directly relevant to the question.
I only need a few more seconds to say thank you for your summation of what the question was about—the changing circumstances of this policy. The words I have read from the member for Wentworth are the most accurate summation of those changing circumstances and they go to the remarkable lack of conviction of the Leader of the Opposition.