Monday, 18 June 2012
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Finance and Deregulation and Minister representing the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Senator Wong. Can the minister advise the Senate by how much the carbon tax will reduce emissions in its first three years of operation?
As the Senate would know, the government's position is the same as that of the opposition, which is a five per cent reduction by 2020 of 2000 levels. The legislation the government has put forward will ensure that caps are set over the period out to 2020 beyond the fixed price period in order to achieve that outcome.
I would make the point that, just as the government has a commitment to a five per cent reduction by 2020, so do the opposition. Of course, the difference is that the government's policy will cost Australians less. It will cost Australian households less, Australian taxpayers less and Australian business less. The reality is that, should the opposition ever be in a position to implement their so-called 'Direct Action' policy, the economy would be far worse off than under a carbon price, which economists have told both sides of politics, including Prime Minister Howard, is the most efficient way to reduce emissions. In terms of the actual abatement outcome for the first three years, I will take that part of the question on notice and I will see if I can assist the cackling Senator Abetz with that information in the near future.
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Given that the minister cannot tell us by how much the carbon tax will reduce emissions, can the government give any guarantees at all that its carbon tax will cause any reduction in emissions, especially in world emissions, in its first three years of operation?
The senator verballed me in the second question, which is not unusual for him—when the facts do not give rise to a scare campaign, let's just make the facts up. The reality is that we have always made clear, as have the opposition, our objective in terms of reduction by 2020. That has been the basis on which the discussion has proceeded. In fact, it is the same basis on which the opposition's policy is predicated: five per cent by 2020. I am sure the opposition would not be able to tell anybody how much abatement each year will occur, and what they certainly do not want to do is tell people how much it will cost them under their system—$1,300 per year per household. That is what the opposition are going to impose—$1,300 more in tax that would have to be paid by Australian households to reach the outcome that they also have signed up to. They do not like to tell people that.
This question fundamentally goes to whether or not we should have a carbon price. The government believes we should. (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Of course, the Prime Minister said, fundamentally, that there will be no carbon tax under a government she leads. My question is: given that the carbon tax is expected to raise about $27.5 billion in its first three years of operation without any reduction in carbon emissions, will the minister admit that the carbon tax is simply another revenue raiser to pay for the Gillard government's bloated and excessive spending?
Absolutely not. As the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate well knows, the government has in place a substantial reform package associated with the revenue from the carbon price and half of that will go back to Australian households. It is surprising that the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate would in fact even ask me that, because I would have thought the opposition would not want to be talking about the fact that they will go to the election saying that they will roll back the tax cuts that the government is proposing. That is what they have said. They might have missed it, but Mr Hockey made it very clear that he is going to roll back the tax changes, the tax cuts, that this government is putting in place associated with the clean energy package, including the tripling of the tax-free threshold, which would be good for second income earners and particularly good for women re-entering the workforce and good for low-income Australians. The coalition will go to the next election saying to every Australian— (Time expired)