Thursday, 16 August 2012
Questions without Notice
Opposition members interjecting—
The carbon price is designed to reduce carbon pollution, just as when Prime Minister Howard announced that if he was re-elected in 2007 he would legislate an emissions trading scheme. The purpose of that price on carbon was to reduce carbon pollution, just as when Brendan Nelson was Leader of the Opposition and he was in favour of putting a price on carbon. The purpose of it was to reduce carbon pollution, just as when the member for Wentworth was the Leader of the Opposition and he advocated—
Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The question could not have been any more straightforward and tight. The Prime Minister only needs to say whether it would increase or decrease electricity prices. That is the question she has to answer.
I was asked what the carbon price was designed to do and I am explaining that. I am also explaining that former Prime Minister Howard, Brendan Nelson, the member for Wentworth and, for much of the time that he has been in the Australian parliament, the Leader of the Opposition fulsomely agreed with that proposition. He was in favour of carbon pricing, out there loud and proud, and of course he will return to that.
Thank you, Deputy Speaker. In terms of the impact on electricity prices, the government has always been crystal clear about this. We said Australian households and Australian families should expect to see a 10 per cent increase in their electricity prices. They are seeing a 10 per cent increase in electricity prices, and because of that we have provided them with tax cuts, with family payment increases—
I refer you to page 555 of the Practice, which points out that not all areas are covered by the standing orders relating to answers, including one of verballing the opposition. It does say, however, that you have the power to rule against that practice which the Prime Minister indulges in answer after answer, and verballing is not parliamentary practice.
The government has always said carbon pricing would affect electricity prices that families pay and that effect would be 10 per cent. It is 10 per cent, and because we knew that there would be that price flow-through we have provided tax cuts, family payment increases and pension increases. What that means is that on average families will see assistance of $10.10. The costs that they will see for electricity are $3.30 a week, the average assistance $10.10 a week.
Of course, people have struggled with electricity price rises—the 50, 60 or 70 per cent that have proceeded because of the nature of the current electricity market and decisions taken by state governments. I am very concerned about the impact of that on Australian families, pensioners and people with fixed incomes and we intend to act on that.
Of course, the Leader of the Opposition has described that as a furphy, in stark contrast to what is being said by his state colleagues.
So we will act on electricity price rises that have come without any real assistance for people. The Leader of the Opposition well knows that carbon pricing has a flow-through impact for electricity—heavens above, he used to be in favour of it.
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Now that the Prime Minister has admitted that the carbon tax will increase the price of electricity, will she also admit that it will not actually reduce emissions, which go up from 578 million to 621 million tonnes, by 2020, despite a $37 a tonne carbon tax?
The Leader of the Opposition, who is obviously desperately casting around to create some drama here, would well know that from the day we announced carbon pricing we were very clear about the impact on electricity prices for families. The Leader of the Opposition then ran around the country and said, 'Oh, it won't be 10 per cent, it will be 20. It will be unimaginable. You just wait and see.' And of course the jury is in now and it is 10 per cent, which means the majority of Australian households will come out of carbon pricing either square or in front. The Leader of the Opposition well knows that these are the designs of a carbon-pricing scheme, because he sat in a federal cabinet when one was being designed—
When the Leader of the Opposition was sitting in the Howard cabinet designing a price on carbon, he too would have known that it is the most efficient way of reducing carbon pollution. And because of the carbon pricing scheme we will reach our target.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the Prime Minister confirm that the government's own modelling shows that Australia's domestic emissions rise from 578 million tonnes in 2010 to 621 million tonnes by 2020, despite the carbon tax. This is an eight per cent rise, not a five per cent cut. Can she please confirm her own modelling? (Time expired)
I can confirm for the Leader of the Opposition that our carbon pricing scheme will enable us to reach our minus five per cent target by 2020, which, from the Leader of the Opposition's earlier statements, I had understood was a target the opposition shared.
I also say to the Leader of the Opposition, who is obviously very interested in these questions today, that he may want to reflect on some of the material from the emissions trading scheme, the carbon price he was in favour of. He may want to reflect on how he stood for election in 2007 with the coalition's climate change policy saying that its scheme will lead to higher fuel and energy costs for households, which is something he was very much in favour of then. But, interestingly, there is no mention of assistance for Australian families. That is the difference between us. We support carbon pricing and he supported carbon pricing, but we support it with assistance and he does not.
The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The option available to table a document is to stand and refer to the document and not to use it as an opportunity for more debate. Is leave granted for the document to be tabled.