Thursday, 21 June 2012
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Acting Prime Minister. Will the Acting Prime Minister confirm that his own modelling predicts Australian domestic emissions will actually rise, from 578 million tonnes a year in 2010 to 620 million tonnes in 2020, despite the world's biggest carbon tax increasing to $37 a tonne?
I am somewhat surprised to hear that the member does not believe in reducing emissions by five per cent because I thought that was the common target that was shared, but apparently not. The truth is we will reduce emissions by 160 million tonnes over time. That is the truth. But, of course, they want to come in and distort these facts time and time again, tell lies about the figures—
Deputy Speaker, the opposition continue to rise and come to the dispatch box to make political points, not to move points of order. My point of order is that this is disruptive conduct and should be dealt with under the standing orders.
The truth is we will reduce emissions by 160 million tonnes by 2020, and that is there in the modelling. I know they want to come in and selectively quote figures. That is the truth of it. And because we are putting a price on carbon we are going to drive investment in renewable energy, we are going to become much more energy efficient. That is going to be very good for our economy. It will take carbon pollution out of the atmosphere; it will be good for the environment. It will be a long-term reform that will continue to see our economy grow strongly. That is the sort of tough reform that I was talking about before in my answer about the census.
Over 100 years, because Australia has faced up to these big decisions, because we have put in place the long-term reforms, the great economic reforms of the eighties and nineties and now the big economic reforms like pricing carbon and putting in place a resource rent tax—these are the reforms that will drive prosperity into the future. But, as I said before, those on that side of the House are reactionaries. We on this side of the House are progressives because we understand you need to be ahead of the curve of history. And if you are going to maximise your prosperity in the Asian century you need to get the policy settings right. Sometimes it means taking some difficult decisions. This is a difficult decision, but it is the right decision for Australia. After 1 July so many of the exaggerations that come from those opposite will be proven to be false and we can get on and have a realistic debate about how we make this a better country, how we make our economy more prosperous and how we have a better society with a cleaner environment.
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness. Will the minister advise the House of Australia's future export prospects and will these prospects be affected by putting a price on carbon?
I thank the member for Shortland for her question. I can inform the member for Shortland and the entire House that International Monetary Fund forecasts released in April this year show that Australia's export volumes of goods and services are expected to rise by 7.6 per cent in 2012 and 6.3 per cent in 2013, in the full knowledge of the introduction of a price on carbon. To put this in context, these would be the strongest export growth figures in a dozen years. And these figures contrast with the much slower export growth, of just 2.3 per cent in 2012 and 4.7 per cent in 2013, for all advanced economies.
We have got this doomsday prophecy: it was firstly a cobra strike, and then it was a python. But, of course, the Leader of the Opposition's variant of a python would be a 'noa constrictor'. You get it around your neck—'No, no, no, it's trying to squeeze the life out of the Australian economy!'—the old 'noa constrictor' over there. I saw video footage of the opposition leader diving into foam—it was this bellyflop into foam. I tell you what: after 1 July it will be a much harder landing for you as you try your contortions and your gymnastics, and the world does not end. The doomsday prophecy will not have come true and then you will have to be able to explain why you have undertaken and implemented the world's greatest bellyflop, because that is what is coming your way, brother.
I had a look today as the days just seem to be getting shorter and shorter. And over on that side they say: 'That's 'cause the sky's falling in, the sky's falling in! It's getting shorter and shorter leading up to 1 July.' Well, I can reveal: today is the winter solstice. We know why they are getting shorter. But over there: 'Oh, no, the sky's falling in.' We will have to bring in the Skyhooks—I mean, the opposition leader is living in the seventies:
I'm livin' in the 70s
I've just caught another disease
… … …
Got the right day but I got the wrong week,
And I get paid for just bein' a freak.'
That is the Leader of the Opposition.
We are for strong growth. We are for lower interest rates. We are for falling inflation. We are for low unemployment. And I can tell the Leader of the Opposition we have an investment pipeline unsurpassed in Australia's history: a 50-year high in investment as a share of GDP, almost $900 billion in investment. The market is defying the doomsday of the old 'noa constrictor' over here. You won't squeeze the life out of the Australian economy because Labor will prevail over you.
My question is to the Acting Prime Minister. I remind the Acting Prime Minister that he has asked the Australian public this week to dismiss the findings with respect to the carbon tax from cane growers, GROCOM, TRUenergy, IPART, the ACT price regulator and even his own modelling in his answer to the last question. Does he seriously expect the Australian people to believe him rather than these organisations, when he described claims that he would introduce a carbon tax as 'hysterical' and then promptly did so within weeks of the election?
Opposition members interjecting—
I am also very proud that we have had a long-held policy of pricing carbon on this side of the House. Those on the other side of the House once had a policy of pricing carbon, until they got rid of the member for Wentworth and installed the new opposition leader. They had a belief. Former Prime Minister Howard and former Treasurer Costello had a belief in an emissions trading scheme, so there is nothing particularly controversial about that.
Opposition members interjecting—
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I again refer to standing order 104. I know that the Acting Prime Minister is doing the very best he possibly can within his competency but he must maintain a link to the substance of the question.
We have a price on carbon, which has the broad support of a whole range of industry organisations, and the broad support of the International Monetary Fund, the OECD and the World Bank. And of course any responsible industry organisation in this country understands that we need to price carbon. Peter Voser from Shell has said so very clearly today. Most of the big international companies operating in this country already have a price on carbon factored into their business plans. So the weight of evidence is behind a price on carbon. The weight of evidence globally and nationally is behind it.
But I will tell you what we are seeing here. We are seeing here a failure of leadership from that side of the House. We are facing up to the big challenges of the 21st century—growing our economy, being environmentally responsible, making sure that what grows here is sustainable for future generations, for our children and our grandchildren, and doing it in a way which is economically responsible and economically rational. If you look at the report from the Productivity Commission, you will see they have endorsed the way in which we are putting a price on carbon. If you look at the modelling from the Treasury, it shows that the economy will continue to grow, that wealth will continue to be created.
Mr Abbott interjecting—
We know that if we drive the investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, we will be much more prosperous.
Order! The Leader of the Opposition does not have the ability to interject constantly on any speaker, and, if he thinks that being the Leader of the Opposition gives him extra cover, he may find that that is not right.
It is a very low road. Modern Australia was not made by the sort of political approaches we are seeing from that side of the House—the gutless, irresponsible approach of those on the other side of the House.
Opposition members interjecting—
Mr Pyne interjecting—
Order! The Acting Prime Minister will resume his seat. There has already been a point of order on relevance. The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. I did not hear the comment. You may have all heard it, but you are all screaming so it makes it very difficult for the chair to hear it, and on that basis I am not actually going to ask the Acting Prime Minister to withdraw. You may come to realise that allowing me to hear things might help. The Manager of Opposition Business has the call.
Order! The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. There is no action to be taken. The point I have made to the Leader of the Opposition is that the standing orders apply to him as they do to everybody else.
Mr Randall interjecting—
Order, the member for Canning is warned! The Acting Prime Minister, to assist the chamber will withdraw and we will try to continue.
he is misleading the Australian people. That is very clear. That is his choice and that is the choice the Liberal Party has made. But we on this side of the House will defend the national interest and we will do it with vigour. (Time expired)
Mr John Cobb interjecting—