Thursday, 30 October 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. The Minister for Communications has described the Prime Minister's policy of paying big polluters as 'a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale.' He also said other things which would be unparliamentary to repeat. Prime Minister, don't the views of the Minister for Communications confirm that your budget is in complete and utter chaos?
That question from someone who promised four years of surpluses? I mean, really and truly. Remember 'The four years of surpluses I announce tonight…'? Really and truly! This question can be dealt with very, very swiftly. We will spend no more than we allocate on this particular policy. It is a good policy, because under this policy we will absolutely achieve our five per cent cut in emissions, but we will not spend any more than is budgeted.
My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Under our previous clean energy laws, polluters had to pay for some of the costs of their pollution, with much of the money raised going to households. Isn't it the case that under the deal you announced yesterday Australia's biggest polluters now have a choice: they can get a handout paid for by households or they can ignore the scheme altogether because there will now be no legal obligation to cut pollution at all?
I am delighted to take this question from the member for Melbourne, because it highlights some not insignificant differences between this side of the House and that side of the House. We did an agreement to uphold our election promises: to abolish the carbon tax and to implement our Emissions Reduction Fund. He was at the heart of an agreement to break their election promises. He led the Labor government to break their election promises. We made an agreement to keep our election promises. We said we would abolish the carbon tax, and we did. We said that electricity prices would come down, and they did. We said that we would make life easier for families, and we did.
Mr Thistlethwaite interjecting—
They said on that side, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' He did the dirty deal with this group of people to break their election promises, to increase the cost of living for families and—do you know what is worse?—it was a failed policy; it did not do its job. There was a less than one per cent decrease in emissions for a $7½ billion a year tax. And where does it go after this?
They talk about how in some way this is a mythical tax on polluters. Let me give you the facts. There were $30 billion of handouts to big companies under their carbon tax—
Ms King interjecting—
the all-time money-go-round in Australian political history: $9.2 billion to general industry in the form of handouts to steel, paper, glass, aluminium, zinc and cement; another $300 million for steel where—wait for this—the only qualification was not that they did anything but they had a bank account. There was $5½ billion for an energy security fund. This sounds good. Do you know what the energy security fund was?
Mr Perrett interjecting—
The energy security fund was cash and payments for Victoria's brown coal generators: an almost $250 million payment to Hazelwood in cash, an almost $250 million payment in cash to Yallourn, an almost $250 million payment in cash to Loy Yang. That is the dirty deal. You were giving almost $30 billion to big firms. Nobody gets anything under us unless they reduce emissions, and overwhelmingly what we are looking at is supporting the rural sector, working with farmers, working with communities, making an absolute guarantee and protection for prime agricultural land and doing this in a way which reduces emissions, improves our economy and supports productivity.