Support for Cabon Tax

(Parliament House, Sydney, 4.23 pm 4 August 2011)

I oppose the motion. It is incredibly disappointing that this most important issue has been hijacked by misleading comments and hysteria. It is quite clear that vested interests, scaremongering, political ambition and outright miscommunication have been allowed to cloud the debate. We have witnessed that today. It is imperative to keep in mind why a price on carbon is important and why acting on climate change is critical. The Federal Government Climate Commission's review of the science of climate change recently concluded that climate change is real and is occurring at a rapid rate, and that two degrees is the maximum temperature change before our planet risks tipping into catastrophic climate change. We are in the critical decade and decisions we make from now until 2020 will determine the severity of climate change our children and grandchildren will experience.

Despite reports to the contrary, this is not the first country that will place a price on carbon. New South Wales introduced the world's first emissions trading scheme in 2003. Likewise, we are not the only country taking action. China announced plans for an emissions trading scheme to be rolled out in six provinces by 2013 and for a national scheme by 2015. India has also introduced a price on carbon. It is clear that governments around the globe are recognising that a low-carbon economy does not mean an end to growth but, rather, a much-needed impetus to shift from polluting practices to greener technologies, expand the renewable and low-carbon energy sector, allow the creation of new green jobs and guide future investment.

We all know that change is difficult and we all know that we are innately conservative and do not want change. We need political leadership and a bipartisan approach on this most important issue about creating a future for our children and grandchildren. We need to take the Australian community on the journey because all of us will have to live differently in the future because climate change is real. I want to correct some misinformation. Revenue from the price on carbon will be used to encourage and invest in clean energy and job reallocation, and provide compensation to industry and households. The increase to average household costs of around $9.90 per week will be offset by an increase of average weekly assistance around $10.10. All taxpayers earning less than $80,000 will receive tax cuts and compensation stops when annual income is about $150,000, which I think we all would agree is reasonable.

The independent Climate Change Authority, to be headed by former Reserve Bank Governor Bernie Fraser, will set annual emission reduction targets for Parliament to approve. Financial assistance will be provided to close down 2,000 megawatts of the most polluting coal-fired power stations by 2020. It is important that this Parliament examines the issues, considers what we have to do and starts working with the Australian and New South Wales communities about taking action.