Thursday, 21 June 2012
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Treasurer and the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Senator Wong. Given the 2012 budget shows the government expects to fall 200,000 jobs short of the target it set in the 2011 budget, how can the government be confident that employment will increase by the 1.6 million jobs by 2020 as estimated by Treasury in its 2011 carbon tax modelling?
I will take the question in my capacity representing the Treasurer, because I do not think it is a question that goes to climate change. What I would say is that we have another question from an opposition that delight in trying to talk down the Australian economy. They cannot bear it when the economy is doing well. They would rather see the economy do poorly because it might improve their political position—and that is outrageous. They have come in here and they have tried to use unfortunate job losses for their own political benefit and now they come in here trying to talk down the economy.
The reality is that since this government came to power we have seen in excess of 800,000 jobs created and unemployment at 5.1 per cent in the last national accounts. This is a demonstration of the strong economic management of this government and the action taken by this government during the global financial crisis—action opposed by Senator Bernardi and his colleagues—which ensured we did not see the sorts of levels of unemployment and capital destruction that we saw in so many other advanced economies.
It is the case, Senator, as we have said in the 2012-13 budget, that we anticipate slower growth in employment. That is transparent in the budget papers. But I would invite him to, for once, instead of talking down the economy perhaps cheerlead the creation of jobs. Would he be prepared to do that?
Mr President, I rise on a point of order on relevance. I asked how confident the minister was in the estimates of creating 1.6 million jobs by 2020 given the failure in only 12 months to create the 200,000 jobs that they had promised. She has not even come close to answering that question.
As I was in the process of saying, which probably demonstrates that Senator Bernardi is not interested in listening to me, which I understand—I do understand that—the 2012-13 budget did update the unemployment and employment forecasts and I would refer him to those.
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer to the fact that, from 1 July, Australian industries will be paying a $23 per tonne carbon tax while many of their competitors will be paying no carbon tax at all or one at a much, much lower rate. What effect does the government estimate this competitive disadvantage will have on existing Australian jobs and the creation of new ones?
I look forward to 1 July because we might stop asking the same questions endlessly. I think I must have answered that question, if I may say, perhaps 200 or 300 times in various contexts in this chamber. The reality is Senator Bernardi is not interested in the answer, because the answer is, as he well knows, that the Treasury modelling demonstrates very clearly we can increase the number of jobs in this country, we can grow our economy, we can grow our incomes with a carbon price. I know this is something that Senator Bernardi finds hard to accept. He should go and have a look at what former Prime Minister Howard said, because, when former Prime Minister Howard announced the emissions trading system that you were once committed to, he also said that this was the way you could grow your economy and grow jobs—with a carbon price.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Minister, I asked yesterday whether you could advise the Senate on how the government defines a 'green job' and, secondly, how many of the 1.6 million jobs the Treasury modelling talks about will actually be green jobs. You failed to answer that question yesterday. You have had 24 hours to update yourself on this portfolio. Would you please advise the Senate now?
My question was in relation to the 1.6 million jobs that the Treasury modelling talks about as being created in the future, by 2020. I have asked the minister to define exactly what a 'green job' is and how many of these 1.6 million jobs will actually be green jobs.
I think I said yesterday, and the senator referred to it in his question, that employment is anticipated to grow by 2020 by 1.6 million jobs. I am very pleased that Senator Bernardi has in fact acknowledged that employment will grow by 1.6 million jobs by 2020 with a carbon price. As the senator knows, there will be many, many different jobs created in the Australian economy. I hope there will be many jobs created in the Australian economy in years to come. I certainly hope also there will be many jobs in the clean energy sector as we see increased generation from renewables and clean energy, but—
Mr President, I rise on a point of order that goes to relevance once again. I have asked about the definition of 'green jobs' and the minister is not being relevant to the question; she is just chattering on trying to defend her very poor legacy.
Mr President, I rise on the point of order. Could you please explain to the Senate how on earth the minister is being directly relevant, as is required under sessional orders, to the question asked by Senator Bernardi? I would invite you to give us a written ruling after question time, but, with great respect, Mr President, there is nothing in that answer thus far that is in any way relevant, let alone directly relevant, to the question that was asked.
As I have said, employment will grow by 2020 by 1.6 million jobs. I would invite those opposite to consider the Treasury modelling, which also looks at industry sectors, and those industry sectors include renewable energy and clean energy, which I assume would fall within Senator Bernardi's definition of a 'green job'.