Senate debates

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Regulations and Determinations

Clean Energy Auction Revocation Determination 2014; Disallowance

1:46 pm

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak on this motion of the Greens to disallow the Clean Energy Auction Revocation Determination 2014. This was a determination issued by the Minister for the Environment, Minister Hunt, on 24 February this year. In doing so, the minister gave business certainty that they no longer need to take part in carbon unit auctions. In doing so, the minister removed the requirement for the Clean Energy Regulator to hold periodic auctions of carbon units, in particular the three auctions that were scheduled to take place prior to 30 June 2014. The determination is important because it gives the business community certainty that those auctions will not take place. It gives them clarity that they need not make a judgement call on what this parliament may or may not do with the carbon tax and that they can continue about their business operations with confidence in the hope that the carbon tax will be eliminated.

I welcome Labor's support of the government in the cancellation of these auctions. It is pleasing to see that. But I am slightly astounded by the confusion that that support brings to Labor's position in relation to the carbon tax. I may not agree with much of what Senator Milne has said over the course of yesterday and today, but I do think that Senator Milne was on to something when yesterday she said:

You would agree to this regulation being overturned and disappearing only if you did not think the emissions trading scheme would stay in place after 1 July this year.

That is right. Senator Milne made clear that you would only agree to this regulation being overturned if you thought the carbon tax would no longer be in place after 1 July. Senator Milne is in many ways correct with that statement, which poses the question: what do the Labor party think will happen to the carbon tax? Is Labor's support for the government on this motion a case of their half-heartedly waving a white flag in relation to their carbon tax position? Is their support yet again an example of the fact that when it comes to the carbon tax Labor do not really know whether they are Arthur or Martha, whether they are Kevin or Julia, whether they are for it or against it, whether they are going to continue to oppose or whether they will ultimately buckle? Mr Butler, the shadow environment minister, in stating that Labor would support the government in cancelling these auctions, did so under a press release headed: 'Labor reaffirms commitment to ETS.' We heard similar words from Senator Carr earlier.


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