Thursday, 27 June 2013
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Wong. I refer to the interview Mr Rudd had with Kerry O'Brien on the 7.30 Report on 12 May 2010 in which he blamed failure at Copenhagen on his decision to axe the proposed carbon tax. He said:
Now it might be easy for you to sit in 7:30 Report land and say that was easy to do. Let me tell you mate, it wasn't. … That is why we've announced a decision that we would not seek to reintroduce this legislation until … global action has been adequate …
Given that any adoption of a new international climate change agreement has been deferred until 2015 and will not take effect until 2020, will Mr Rudd stay true to his 2010 statement and now axe Ms Gillard's carbon tax until global action has been adequate and there is a new international agreement in place?
I thank the senator for what I believe will be his last question—although I have to say I anticipated it would be on the Public Service.
Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting—
Senator Macdonald is demonstrating the hubris for which he has become so loved on his side. If he could see their heads drop whenever he talks, he would know with what regard he is not held. Anyway, I digress. I thank the senator for what I understand will be his last question in this place. I think there are a couple of propositions to which I should respond. The first one is the principle of a carbon price. I do recall that Senator Humphries was at one time among those senators who understood the importance of pricing carbon—and the importance of carbon pricing was of course clearly understood by Prime Minister Howard. Our party has been very clear in our continued advocacy and delivery of a price on carbon—at times in very difficult political circumstances because of the partisanship that was demonstrated by those opposite.
The second point on the question is the proposition in relation to international action. This is a sort of Liberal version of the National Party saying that we do not want any foreign investment; we do not want to pretend there is any global economy out there that we are part of. The facts are that action is being taken in many countries around the world. I make the point and am happy to come back to this: we are seeing action in California and nine other US states; Korea has legislated its national emissions trading scheme; Japan introduced a carbon price, carbon taxes; and new regional emissions trading schemes have commenced in Canada— (Time expired)
I thank the minister and I ask a supplementary question. Is it still the intention of the government to allow a carbon tax hike of five per cent next week despite the absence of a binding global agreement, not a bilateral agreement, which Mr Rudd had previously set as a prerequisite for the introduction of any carbon tax?
Dismissing bilateral or unilateral action is not the approach the coalition take when it comes to trade. So one wonders why they suddenly say in relation to climate policy: 'We are going to ignore what China is doing, what the United States is doing, what Korea is doing, what Japan is doing. We are going to ignore that.' That, again, is an example of the economic irrationality of those opposite.
Mr President, I rise on a point of order. My question was about whether the government would allow a five per cent hike in the carbon tax next week. It is only a few days away. Can the minister in enlighten the Senate on that question?
Thank you, Mr President. The second part of the question dealt with the issue the senator raised in his point of order. I would make that point. I think the proposition that is being asserted by the opposition again today, as well as yesterday, is that the government should say that what is being passed through this parliament—through this chamber and the other place—what is the law of the land, should somehow be unilaterally waived by the government of the day. I suspect in relation to any legislation, if that were the proposition that the government put in place, you could hear the howls from those opposite already. (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Given Mr Rudd was arguing against implementing a carbon tax at the time of his original knifing as Prime Minister, can the minister tell the Senate whether Mr Rudd now backs Labor's current carbon tax and how the Australian people can have any confidence in what he will do with respect to the carbon tax in the future?
The Labor Party's position is we support carbon pricing. That is the position of the party, that is the position of the Prime Minister and that puts us in stark contrast to the flat-earth policy of those opposite, which will cost the economy more, which will cost Australian families more and which will be disruptive to business and business confidence were it ever to be implemented.