Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Questions without Notice
Honourable senators interjecting—
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. We are constantly told by the Prime Minister that the carbon tax is good for Australia and, indeed, good for the world. Why then did the Prime Minister three years ago solemnly promise never to introduce a carbon tax under any government she led? Did she three years ago not understand what she now—
Honourable senators interjecting—
Did she not three years ago understand what she now claims are the great benefits of the carbon tax? If that is not the explanation, why then did she break in spectacular fashion the promise never to introduce a carbon tax? Why would the Australian public and Australian families now ever believe anything the Prime Minister might say at the next election or any other time?
It is pleasing to see Senator Macdonald asking a question on policy, because now we are back to the staple of those opposite: the misinformation, the lies and the deceit of the Australian public. What we have opposite is 'the python is back'; 'the wrecking ball is back'; 'Whyalla is off the face of the earth'. I am not going to sing, though. You are all safe: I will not sing. Those opposite have, day after day after day, misled the Australian public about the impact of carbon pricing. This fearmongering about the impact of the carbon price has become understood by the public. It is just scaring people for your own short-term political gain.
Climate Institute research published on the weekend shows that Australians have seen through you. They have seen through you and your scare tactics. The world has not ended, as forecast, because of carbon pricing. In fact, the public support Australia taking action on climate change and are quite worried that, if elected, Mr Abbott will not. The coalition has always been an absolute shambles when it comes to this policy issue. When it comes to action on climate change, absolutely nothing has changed. They do not know if they are pro or anti the climate change policy that they have. They do not know whether they are for or against emissions trading schemes, or even renewable energy. We all know that, should they gain government, they will not repeal the carbon price— (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, is the climate commission you are talking about led by a person who, two weeks before the greatest floods that ever hit Brisbane, promised there would never be another drop of rain in Queensland? Do you believe that a carbon tax that will next week be $24.15 a tonne will be beneficial to Australia when Europe, which emits about five times as much carbon, has a carbon tax of only $5.84 per tonne?
As I was saying, we all know that, should those opposite gain government, they will not repeal the carbon price because it is the cheapest and most efficient system and it is working. There has been a 7.4 per cent reduction in emissions in the national electricity market in the first 11 months. Australia's economy and employment has continued to grow. Over 158,000 jobs have been added to the economy since the introduction of the carbon price despite the global financial crisis. We all recognise that the price impacts have been modest and households are getting assistance with payments and tax cuts. But you cannot trust those opposite and what they say. They say we are acting alone. Australia is not acting alone— (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can I ask the minister to explain how Australian manufacturers are expected to compete against manufacturers in the USA, which has no nationwide carbon tax, and China, which has no effective carbon tax at all? Can the minister explain how many jobs in manufacturing have been lost as a result of the government's carbon tax?
Let us just ignore the high dollar—that has no impact at all, Senator Macdonald! As I said—and Senator Macdonald has just alluded to it—Australia is not, despite the question, acting alone on climate change. An OECD report confirms that an effective carbon tax applies to pollution from energy in every single OECD country. The 27 countries of the EU have an ETS. California and the north-eastern states of the USA have an ETS. China launched its first emissions trading scheme last week. Japan has had a carbon tax since 2012. South Korea has had a scheme for years. India has put a price on carbon for coal. And New Zealand, with a conservative government, has an ETS. So it is great news for the planet as carbon pricing grows and grows throughout the global economy— (Time expired)