Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to her statement yesterday:
It is simply wrong to suggest that the Treasury modelling of the government's Clean Energy Future program depends on the United States putting a price on carbon by 2016.
I also refer the Prime Minister to the government's own modelling, which says:
The modelling assumes comparable carbon pricing in other major economies from 2015-16 …
I ask: will the Prime Minister now admit what every Australian knows, that the failure of the United States or any comparable country to introduce an economy-wide carbon price means that her carbon tax will be an even bigger rip-off?
I say to the Leader of the Opposition, who asked effectively the same question as he asked yesterday, that the facts do not change no matter how much he yells about them. The facts do not change no matter how many times he says no. The facts do not change no matter how relentlessly negative he is. The facts that were the facts yesterday, which we talked about in question time, are the facts today, and they will be the facts tomorrow. No amount of fear campaigning, from an opposition leader who has no policies and consequently only knows how to run fear campaigns and how to say no, will change the facts. The facts will not change just because the Leader of the Opposition is desperate for them to. The facts will not change because of that.
The facts are the same as they were yesterday and, for members of the opposition who were too busy screaming out 'no' to listen to those facts yesterday, the facts are these: the Treasury modelling that the Leader of the Opposition refers to does not make an assumption about the United States of America having a carbon price. The international assumptions in the Treasury modelling are that countries deliver to the low end of their pledges. Australia, to use our own nation as an example, has publicly committed internationally to a minus five per cent target in 2020 unconditionally. The international modelling assumes that countries will deliver to their low-end targets.
Then the Leader of the Opposition comes in once again with this furphy. How many times do we have to listen to this silly fear campaign—this relentless negativity? He insults people around the world who are actually acting on carbon. He insults people around the world who are dealing with carbon pollution. To remind the Leader of the Opposition: President Obama stood in this parliament and verified his clean energy target. California, which if it were a nation unto itself would be amongst the biggest economies in the world, is moving to put a price on carbon. The European Union has a price on carbon. New Zealand has a price on carbon. A number of Chinese provinces will trial a price on carbon, and so the list goes on.
These are the facts, and no amount of twisting and turning by a Leader of the Opposition who is so desperate because he has no policies that he has nothing to say—not one word to say, not one idea in his mind except saying no—will change that. No amount of repetition of these falsehoods will turn them into truths.
I also say to the Leader of the Opposition that some days he has gone out and said that he agrees with our minus five per cent target in 2020. He has on other days gone out and said that he is opposed to the minus five per cent target. I will make a grand assumption that today he is in favour of the minus five per cent target, and I say to the Leader of the Opposition that if he is in favour of the minus five per cent target, why would he impose on Australians the most costly way of doing it? Why would he require Australian families to give him $1,300 to pursue his scheme, which he knows will not work and which will take money from Australian families and give it to big polluters? The Leader of the Opposition's fear campaign will never turn into facts, no matter how often he repeats it.
Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question to the Prime Minister. If the Prime Minister accepts that the United States can reduce emissions with direct action, does she accept that Australia can do the same?
I accept that it is in the interests of Australian working families to do this the most cheap way—that is what I accept. Consequently, on the advice that we have had from economists around the world—
Opposition members interjecting—
Once again, no amount of shouting and bellowing by the Leader of the Opposition changes this simple truth. It is known to members of the opposition frontbench. If the Leader of the Opposition wants advice on this he should swing his chair around and talk to the member for Wentworth. What the Leader of the Opposition well knows is that the cheapest way to cut carbon pollution is to put a price on carbon. That cannot be denied; it is the consistent advice of economists, and every living Liberal leader has accepted that—every living Liberal leader. Indeed the Leader of the Opposition has accepted too that the cheapest way of cutting carbon pollution is to put a price on carbon.
I am very satisfied in saying to the Leader of the Opposition that here in Australia we will cut carbon pollution in the cheapest possible way. We will get the big polluters to pay and we will give money to Australian working families. The Leader of the Opposition wants to run endlessly a negative fear campaign to cover up his lack of policies. But, to the extent that he has a hastily cobbled together plan, that plan requires him to take money from working families and give it to big polluters—to take $1,300 per year from working families and give it to the biggest polluters.
I have got too much respect for working families to do that to them. We will ensure that we put a price on carbon, that we reduce carbon pollution, that we reach our minus five per cent target in 2020, that we do it in the cheapest possible way, that big polluters pay the price and that working families get the benefit of a tripling of the tax-free threshold, meaning that there will be one million people not in the tax system, that working families will see tax cuts—many of them around $300 a year—that pensioners will see pension increases and that people will see family payment increases.
I want to say one word of thanks to the Leader of the Opposition. I do thank him for the fact that at the Sydney Institute last night he verified with some certainty that if he is ever elected he will rip that money out of the hands of working families. It is there in his speech for all to see—tax cuts gone, family payment increases gone, pension increases gone and $1,300 ripped out of the hands of working families. That is what the Leader of the Opposition stands for. No amount of negativity will ever change those facts.