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Question to the Treasurer on a carbon levy

February 14, 2024

Dr Sophie Scamps: My question is to the Treasurer. Two of our nation's most respected economists, Professors Sims and Garnaut, have today put forward a bold plan they say can lower global carbon emissions by at least six per cent, would deliver much cheaper power bills and would supercharge a new green export industry here which would set up Australia's prosperity in the new global economy for decades. With the worst of the coalition climate wreckers of the Nemesis era all but wiped out, isn't it time a carbon levy was back on the table?

Dr Chalmers: I say to the member for Mackellar: unfortunately, there are still a few of them here, and that's because you guys can only knock them off one at a time! I agree that Professors Sims and Garnaut are very distinguished economists and very distinguished thinkers. They are well-motivated and well-informed contributors to this debate—as well, I might say, as the member for Mackellar herself. We share the objective of a future increasingly powered by cleaner, cheaper and more renewable energy into the future because this side of the House believes in the vast industrial and economic opportunities of the net zero economy.

Where we differ from the distinguished thinkers at the Press Club today is that we are not up for the levy that Professor Sims and Professor Garnaut proposed at the Press Club today. Part of the reason for that is that we've found a better way—or at least an alternative way, but we feel it's a better way—to implement what is already a comprehensive and ambitious agenda when it comes to clean energy, when it comes to climate change and when it comes to those industrial opportunities from becoming a renewable energy superpower. Here I want to pay tribute to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy for his work in his portfolio. I also want to say, as the environment minister implied a moment ago, he works closely with the Prime Minister, with the Minister for the Environment and Water, with the Minister for Industry and Science, with the Minister for Resources and with others to make sure that we grasp the opportunities of the net zero economy.

Our plan includes lifting our country's emission reduction targets from 26 per cent to 43 per cent. We've enshrined those targets and our net zero objective in law, which sends a message to renewable energy investors around the world that Australia has changed and is open to welcoming more investment in clean energy on our shores. On top of those targets, we've got the safeguard mechanism. We've given it teeth. We've got the Capacity Investment Scheme. We've got $20 billion for transmission via Rewiring the Nation. We've got the $2 billion in Hydrogen Headstart. We've got a whole range and a whole raft of policies when it comes to climate change and energy. These policies are already accounted for in the budget.

Our policy suite is already helping to drive down emissions and support jobs across the economy, including in the industrial and energy sector. Minister Bowen's last climate change statement showed that our approach means that we are now on track to deliver— (Time expired)