Thursday, 28 October 2010
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the following statement by Professor Garnaut regarding the impact of the carbon price on electricity prices:
A major part, if not all, of the costs faced by electricity generators will be passed down the chain from electricity generators, distributors and retailers and finally to households through higher prices for electricity.
Does the Prime Minister agree or disagree with Professor Garnaut?
I thank the member for his question. What I would say to the member is that Professor Garnaut is very expert in questions of carbon pricing, which is why he is one of the experts who will advise the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee. I would also say to the member, who obviously wants to engage in the fear campaign of the opposition, that it is not appropriate for the member to try to create in the minds of the Australian community that there is somehow a mechanism to deal with carbon pricing to deal with reducing carbon emissions which means no change and no costs. Indeed, the member went to the election advocating a policy which would have had costs. If the member who asked the question had become the Deputy Prime Minister after this election—
and he would have been told:
Direct Action measures—
that is, the direct action measures that the member asking the question went to the election with—
alone cannot do the job without imposing significant economic and budget costs … Moreover, many of the direct action measures cannot be scaled up to achieve significant levels of abatement—
Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Prime Minister’s answer is not directly responding to the question of whether she agrees with Professor Garnaut or whether she does not. Is the price of electricity going up or is it not?
I ask the member to accept one simple proposition which is, if we are to tackle climate change, if we are to meet the targets we have set ourselves on a bipartisan basis as a nation, if we are to transform our economy in the way we need to then, yes, there will be some costs and, yes, there is a question of how you work through costs—absolutely. What the member simply cannot do is come into this place and pretend that he stands for a policy that somehow has no costs.
If he is of the view that his policy has no costs, he would have been quickly corrected by the incoming brief to the government which would have pointed out the considerable costs arising from his policy.
On the question of electricity pricing, about which I was asked, I refer the member—
That the member be no longer heard.
A division having been called and the bells having been rung—
Our Argentinian friends would know, coming from an agriculturally based country, that this is akin to the head count of livestock—I should add prime livestock.
I conclude by saying that serious people understand that to address climate change, you have to price carbon. Serious people understand pricing carbon will change our economy. Serious people understand that not pricing carbon is causing uncertainty for the electricity generation sector and is going to, in the future, constrict supply. Serious people work through these issues in a serious way. People who do not care about the future of the nation play cheap politics and are anti reform.