Senate debates

Thursday, 10 July 2014


Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [No. 2], True-up Shortfall Levy (General) (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [No. 2], True-up Shortfall Levy (Excise) (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [No. 2], Customs Tariff Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [No. 2], Excise Tariff Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [No. 2], Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013, Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013 [No. 2], Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Manufacture Levy) Amendment (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [No. 2]; In Committee

10:58 am

Photo of Christine MilneChristine Milne (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

We have an emissions trading scheme in Australia now; it was negotiated by the last government. Senator Singh has a very selective memory. I was in the Senate when the former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd abandoned what he called the greatest moral challenge of all time. Before Copenhagen and after Copenhagen, the gang of four in the Labor Party decided to abandon emissions trading in spite of the compromise the Greens had on the table at the time. They said they would prefer to go after the mining tax and abandon carbon pricing. They went into the 2010 election with no policy on carbon pricing and it was only as a result of negotiations after the election that the Greens secured a commitment that we would introduce a price on carbon and it would be legislated and take effect from 1 July 2012.

So let's not hear any more of this arrant nonsense and also let's put on the record that the scheme negotiated between the former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the then Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Turnbull 'browned it down' so that it was next to useless. In fact, it was worse than nothing, in my view, because it would have locked in expanding free permits over time. It would have locked in mega compensation to coal fired power stations. It had no driver of renewable energy, no Clean Energy Finance Corporation, no Climate Change Authority and had a weak five per cent target with no capacity for the parliament to drive it higher. So it was a complete junk policy. We now have a very good policy which we should be proud of and the question before the chair is: will the Palmer United Party, which says it supports emissions trading, now support a scheme which has an 18 per cent target as a result of the 31 May deadline expiring? We now have an 18 per cent target in Australia. That is what makes it different now from earlier in the year.

Mr Palmer says he supports an emissions trading scheme. Good, so do I, so does the Labor Party, so let us vote to keep the one we have. The compromise here is to go to flexible pricing straightaway which would take the price from $25 down to $7 to $9, which is a more than reasonable compromise to put on the table. If Mr Palmer is serious about an emissions trading scheme then let us vote for this amendment together and secure the amendment to put it back to the government. I notice the minister still has not answered my question about whether he has had talks with the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group—who he has had talks with—in relation to securing an emissions trading scheme, because they are saying in the papers that that is what they want. Are they telling the government that?

There is another matter that I want Senator Cormann to answer. I understand the government has been having talks with the Palmer United Party about how to secure the price reduction obligation to be returned to consumers. It is now a circulated amendment, though not yet moved. Mr Palmer has said that he has had discussions with the government. Regarding these costs, directly or indirectly attributable, that are to be accounted for, I ask the minister two things. Firstly, if it is an indirect cost, how widely defined is that? There is no-one here from the Palmer United Party who can tell me, so maybe you can, Minister, since you have been in discussions with them. Secondly, they have just changed their foreshadowed amendment, obviously as a result of discussions with the government. So, Minister, can you tell us what conversations you have had with the Palmer United Party and what this new amendment is actually going to do?


No comments