Michelle Lensink

Carbon Pricing

I seek leave to make an explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Employment and Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation regarding carbon pricing.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: As honourable members would be aware, the federal Labor Party has advertised its plans to introduce the carbon tax, which federal Treasury modelling shows will increase wholesale electricity prices by some 78 per cent. What impact will such an increase have on South Australian jobs, particularly in the manufacturing sector, and does he have any specific concerns about the potential impact on Arrium?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 14:26 ): I thank the honourable member for her most important question in relation to carbon pricing. As she understands, of course, the matter of carbon pricing is really one for the federal government of the time, and we can go through chapter and verse the history of a carbon price.

I note that there is a report out very recently as a critique of the current federal government's approach to climate change and its indirect action, as it has been called in this article—really, it is a direct action policy, but it is a policy that pays polluters to continue to pollute. It is a policy that, in fact, pays for people to do things they probably were already going to do anyway. So this is taxpayers' money the federal government is paying to big polluters to actually do what they are already doing.

By the way, the federal government has, I think, used almost all the money—I think it was roughly up to $2 billion, it was a bit more than that— that was put aside for recovering the abatement that it needed to get to its promises in Paris, but only about 5 per cent of it. They spent about two‑thirds of their allocated budget to buy 5 per cent of the abatement that they need to uphold their agreement that they entered into in Paris. What a failure of a policy is that.

The Hon. Michelle Lensink in her question, in her naive Andrew Bolt sort of approach to these things, fails to talk about what is the price of not acting? What is the price to our economy of not acting? Because we know, we are advised by senior economists all the time, not acting now means we will have to act at a much higher price later on, a higher price for our economy, a higher price to our workforce. Not acting now means the price we are putting on the next generation is going to be even higher.

That's what the Liberals won't tell you. That's what Andrew Bolt won't tell you. They want to be absolutely irresponsible and push all responsibility for addressing the issues of global warming to the next generations. They want to wash their hands of it and say, 'We will walk away from this, run a scare campaign about a great big tax on carbon', which there never was. The article I was referring to, which I could go to and quote at length if the honourable member would like me to, says in fact the only way the federal government's work on direct action will actually work and deliver the outcomes they promise it will is if they adopt the emissions trading scheme that Bill Shorten and Mark Butler have said they will bring into place.

The PRESIDENT: Supplementary, the Hon. Ms Lensink.

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