Question Without Notice - Carbon Pricing

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (15:09): My question is to the.Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

Why is it important to access the least cost abatement.and link with international carbon markets as part of.the government's plan to transform the economy to a.clean energy future? How has this been received? What.is the government's response?.

Mr COMBET (Charlton—Minister for Climate.Change and Energy Efficiency) (15:10): I thank.the member for Cunningham for her question. As.we know, climate change is a global problem, an.international problem, and any solution to climate.change is going to have to involve coordination.and cooperation within the international community.

There is, after all, only one atmosphere and a.reduction in pollution anywhere in the world has.the same environmental benefit. The most practical.way that nations can cooperate to tackle climate.change is through the development of credible.international carbon markets, because through these.markets countries can take advantage of the lowest.cost pollution cuts that are available. That is what the.government's carbon price mechanism will achieve.

Former Prime Minister John Howard understood this.extremely well. The coalition's emissions trading.policy that he took to the 2007 election clearly.articulated this point. It said:.The Australian scheme will be designed to maximise.the prospect of linkages with other schemes, and.with policy-based arrangements such as offsets,.where offshore emissions-reducing activities could be.counted by Australian firms in determining their net.emissions.

That was coalition policy and an important piece of.economic policy because, through international linking.of emissions trading schemes, we can establish a.common carbon price between our economy and that.of our trading partners over time thereby ensuring that.carbon pricing does not disadvantage our industries.and our businesses.

The opposition's policy that we should not link with.international carbon markets, that we should not.allow Australian businesses to purchase carbon credits.overseas, would have serious economic consequences.

It would more than double the cost of cutting pollution.in our own economy to meet emissions reduction.targets. This would put Australian businesses at an.extreme competitive disadvantage with those overseas.

Importantly, economic opportunities for farmers,.foresters and other land managers for exporting carbon.credits would also be lost. One would imagine that.the National Party would have an interest in such.an issue. Little wonder that the business community.has strongly argued for access to international carbon.markets to reduce the cost of emissions reductions.

Little wonder that business leaders are rolling their.eyes at the economic capacity of the coalition under the.member for Warringah's leadership.

The opposition's policy is economically reckless. It is.economic xenophobia. It is sending the signal—which.it intends to do, one assumes—that it is somehow.dubious to be trading with foreigners. It is typical dog.whistle politics from the member for Warringah. It.trashes commitments that have existed on both sides.of this place to economic liberalisation and open trade.

It is a white carbon policy on the part of the Leader.of the Opposition. What would be next? Do we stop.foreign trade? Do we stop trading in the dollar? Do we.ban international trade?.Mrs Bronwyn Bishop: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point.of order in accordance with the requirement for direct.relevance to the question. There will be adequate time.for the minister to have debate. This is not the time.

He is not responsible for opposition policy. He should.return to the question.

The SPEAKER: The minister in conclusion.

Mr COMBET: The humour is in the policy on the.other side. The Leader of the Opposition is a significant.economic risk. He thinks that a tonne of carbon dioxide.is weightless. He thinks cost is nothing. He is not.prepared to trade internationally. He is a risk to our.economy. (Time expired).