Aug 16, 2006

Question without notice – Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Question without notice

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

16 August 2006

Mr ALBANESE (2.06 p.m.)—My question is to the Prime Minister. Is the Prime Minister aware of comments made by the Treasurer on 18 January this year in relation to emissions trading in which he said:

A market based solution will give the right signal to producers and to consumers. It will make clear the opportunity cost of using energy resources, thereby encouraging more and better investment in additional sources of supply and improving the efficiency with which they are used. That has to be good for both producers and consumers and better for the environment.

Does the Prime Minister agree with these comments? Is this why the Treasurer and the then environment minister took to cabinet in 2003 a proposal to establish a market based national emissions trading scheme for greenhouse gases?

Mr HOWARD—I am aware of those comments made by the Treasurer and, like all the other comments the Treasurer makes, they make a great deal of sense.

Opposition members—Not all of them.

The SPEAKER—Order! Members on my left!

Mr HOWARD—They do. My colleague the Treasurer makes very sensible remarks on national economic management. But there are two very crucial things—

Mr Tanner interjecting—

The SPEAKER—The member for Melbourne!

Mr HOWARD—about the Treasurer’s position that the member for Grayndler did not acknowledge. Firstly, the Treasurer, unlike the party of the member for Grayndler, was not advocating a carbon tax. I know the Labor Party loves taxes but the Treasurer was not advocating a carbon tax. I also know that the Treasurer’s views on this matter are within context—

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER—The member for Melbourne is warned!

Mr Tanner—What for? I didn’t say anything.

Mr HOWARD—at least and until we have a protocol throughout the world that includes all of the major emitters, and that means the inclusion of countries such as China, the United States and India. Until we have all the major emitters, one country unilaterally embracing an emissions trading scheme will result in great damage to that country. The reason we will not sign Kyoto is that, if we were to sign, we would accept burdens under the protocol that would not apply to our competitors, such as China and Indonesia. We would export jobs, and that is my point.

Mr Albanese—Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order that goes to relevance. This was a question about emissions trading—

The SPEAKER—The member for Grayndler will resume his seat.

Mr Albanese—The question was about emissions trading, Mr Speaker.

The SPEAKER—The member for Grayndler will resume his seat and I will rule on his point of order. The member for Grayndler asked a lengthy question that covered quite a number of related areas. The Prime Minister is answering the substance of the question. I call the Prime Minister.

Mr HOWARD—For a country such as Australia, which is almost unique in the sense of being a developed country that is a net exporter of energy, to embrace the sorts of strictures, penalties and burdens being advocated by the opposition without—

Mr Beazley—Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order on relevance. This is about emissions trading, and this proposition of the Treasurer is exactly what was proposed in our blueprint.

The SPEAKER—I remind the Leader of the Opposition that this was a wide-ranging question and the Prime Minister is responding to the substance of it. I call the Prime Minister.

Mr HOWARD—What the Labor Party wants is for a resource rich country such as Australia to agree to an arrangement that would result in the export of investment and jobs from this country. What this government will not tolerate—

Mr Beazley—Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER—Order! Has the Prime Minister concluded his answer?

Mr Beazley—Has he concluded his answer? No. Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. There is an explicit question here about emissions trading. The Treasurer’s position is the Labor Party’s position—exactly the same.

The SPEAKER—The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. Again I remind the Leader of the Opposition that the Prime Minister was asked a lengthy question and he is responding to the substance of that question. I call the Prime Minister.

Mr HOWARD—The more the Leader of the Opposition interjects the more he proclaims his sensitivity on this issue. What Labor stands for is a policy that would export resource jobs from states like Queensland to other countries. I want to say on behalf of this government that, while ever we have control of policies in this area, we are not going to sell out the Australian resource sector and we are not going to sell out the workers in the resource industry. We are going to stand up for the resource industries in Queensland and Western Australia, because they are contributing great wealth to this nation.

Mr Albanese—Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER—Order! The Prime Minister will resume his seat. Has the Prime Minister concluded his answer?

Mr HOWARD—Yes.

Mr Albanese—Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER—The Prime Minister has concluded his answer.

Mr Albanese—Yes, Mr Speaker, and I am seeking the call.

The SPEAKER—The next question will be going to the government.

Mr Albanese—I understand that; I am seeking the call.

The SPEAKER—Is the member for Grayndler raising a point of order?

Mr Albanese—I seek leave to table the Treasurer’s speech entitled ‘Energy security in the Asia Pacific region’, made on 18 January 2006 in Los Angeles, endorsing our policy.

Leave granted.