Thursday, 4 February 2010
Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2010; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2010; Australian Climate Change Regulatory Authority Bill 2010; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (Charges — Customs) Bill 2010; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (Charges — Excise) Bill 2010; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (Charges — General) Bill 2010; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS Fuel Credits) Bill 2010; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS Fuel Credits) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2010; Excise Tariff Amendment (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme) Bill 2010; Customs Tariff Amendment (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme) Bill 2010; Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Amendment (Household Assistance) Bill 2010
I rise today to support the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill 2010 and related legislation. Australia’s emissions trading scheme is an important part of our response to climate change. Emissions trading schemes are recognised around the world as being the right way to tackle climate change. They establish a cap on carbon emissions, and if we are serious about tackling climate change then we need to implement caps. The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, our ETS, makes the big polluters pay and that is important. It stands in stark contrast to the opposition’s policy, which is all about making the taxpayers pay. Billions of dollars are going to go to the big polluters from the taxpayers of this country.
Importantly, as part of our bill there is real compensation to households. The impacts of our Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme are that, overall, the average cost of living is expected to increase by about 1.1 per cent in the first two years of the scheme. Under the CPRS a total of 8.1 million households, or 90 per cent of all households, will receive assistance. On average those households will receive around $660 of assistance in 2013.
So we put a cap on carbon pollution; we make the big polluters, not taxpayers, pay; and we provide compensation to those who are really in need in the community, those on low to middle incomes—in particular, people like pensioners and working families. The shadow minister was interjecting before, a bit upset about this, because I think this is the really stark difference between our policy and their policy. We are about making the big polluters pay the cost of their emissions and providing a market based framework that will see business, innovation and research implement ways to reduce carbon pollution, and their approach is to regulate and then use taxpayers’ money to fund big polluters who may, in appropriate circumstances, reduce carbon emissions—starkly different approaches.
It is no wonder that an emissions trading scheme was agreed to by the former Howard government and by many of those opposite in statements made in public over an extended period of time. The shadow minister has even done a thesis on this, I understand, and is quoted as saying that our market based system is the right way to tackle climate change. But they have moved away from that. There are no other countries around the world adopting policies like the opposition’s. Thirty-five countries either have implemented or are committed to implementing emissions trading schemes, including many European countries and the United States of America.
Climate change is a problem here—it is a problem in my electorate of Leichhardt, and I am going to come to that—but it is also a global problem, and we need a global solution. We need to adopt climate change policies that tackle the unique challenges Australia faces as a result of climate change, but this needs to be part of a global solution if we are to make real progress on climate change. That is why the government has an unconditional target of five per cent by 2020 but will increase the target to 15 per cent or 25 per cent depending on the international community’s response.
The opposition is supposed to agree with these targets, but it has no plans to reach them. If you are going to be responsible in this debate and establish a target, you have to have a plan to actually achieve that target. We do and the opposition does not. We have to have a framework that allows us to take action in this country, but this is a global problem, so we need to have a framework that also enables us to work with the international community. The businesses in this country—many of them are export or import businesses—operate in a global environment, and we need a response to climate change that also works within a global framework. An emissions trading scheme does. That is why countries all around the world are adopting or committing to adopting it—as I have said, European countries, the United States of America and many others.
Until late last year there was bipartisan support for action on climate change. The legislation that we are presenting today represents negotiations in good faith between the Rudd government and the Liberal opposition last year. It was supported by the coalition caucus late last year, before the climate change sceptics took control of the Liberal Party and anointed Mr Abbott as leader. I know there are many in the Liberal Party who still want to see Australia adopt an ETS, with Liberal senators crossing the floor last year when this legislation was brought to the Senate. It will be interesting to see who joins the former Leader of the Opposition, Mr Turnbull, who I understand is reported to be going to cross the floor and support this legislation, because it was negotiated in good faith.
The Liberals that I hear talking publicly are always banging on about individualism and free thought in the Liberal Party. Well, it will be interesting to see how many of them are prepared to stand up to the conservative faction in their own party that has taken control of it and anointed Mr Abbott as opposition leader. That is the real challenge for them: will other responsible members of the Liberal Party who want to see action on climate change stand up to the conservative leaders in their party and cross the floor on this legislation? We negotiated in good faith with their shadow minister, Ian Macfarlane, and the leadership at that time of the Liberal Party. We negotiated in good faith, and this legislation represents that, because the Australian people want the Liberal Party, the Labor Party—this parliament—to come together and take action on climate change. That is what this legislation represents. It represents an agreement between the Labor Party and the Liberal Party prior to the conservative forces in the Liberal Party taking control of that party. We can look at that. We know that.
The current Leader of the Opposition—these are not my words but his own words—has described the science on climate change as ‘crap’. It is not the way that I describe it; he has described it as ‘crap’. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Nick Minchin, is on the record as saying on a Four Corners program that he does not believe that human beings are responsible for climate change. Their finance spokesman, Senator Joyce, whom we have seen this week making some unbelievable comments in public about how they might fund their con job policy, was out last year publicly campaigning against action on climate change and against an ETS.
The Rudd government sat down with the Liberal Party last year and worked out what we believe is an emissions trading scheme in the national interest that will work within a global framework, and we did that in good faith. It will be very interesting to see how those members opposite who really want to take action and be serious about this issue vote on this legislation, because Tony Abbott is quoted as saying he thinks it is ‘crap’; their leader in the Senate, Senator Minchin, has said that he does not believe humans are a part of the reason we are suffering from climate change; and they have appointed a finance spokesman who is an active campaigner against any action.
We need to look at their policy. I have already mentioned that it is going to cost $1.2 billion a year, and I gather that over 10 years that is $10 billion through to 2019-20. It is a hell of a lot of money—a lot of schools, hospitals and programs that can be implemented to actually tackle climate change in a serious way. We have had, not from us—the government—but from the Department of Climate Change, an analysis of this policy released earlier this week. As I said, it is not an emissions trading scheme; it does not put a cap on carbon pollution. Over there they are supposed to have committed to a five per cent target.