2RE Interview With Craig Huth

Subject: Carbon pricing

CRAIG HUTH: Well they are very, very happy in Federal Parliament today, the Government have passed half way along the bridge with the carbon tax and joining us from Canberra is Mark Dreyfus MP, the Federal Member for Isaacs and of course the Cabinet Secretary and Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.  Hello Mr Dreyfus, how are you?

MARK DREYFUS: Hello Craig, good to be with you.

CRAIG HUTH: Well first of all congratulations, so far.

MARK DREYFUS: Thank you very much - it is a very significant achievement passing through the House of Representatives.  It is significant for our children, our children's children and for those who want a cleaner environment.

CRAIG HUTH: Now let me put to you a few questions here just regarding the carbon tax.  It will come in next year of course.  Will the carbon tax and the things that the Opposition have been saying, will we lose jobs with this carbon tax

MARK DREYFUS: Absolutely not, this is good for jobs.  The economies that are going to be successful in the 21st centuries are the economies that are low carbon economies that grapple with the new technologies.  We think that people who are going to benefit from this will be people taking up the new clean energy jobs and it won't be bad for jobs, we have made it very, very clear that we are assisting the industries that will be most affected and that's why there are assistance packages for the steel industry, assistance packages for the coal industry.  What we are interested in is a moderate transition Craig.

CRAIG HUTH: They say a lot of jobs will go off shore and manufacturing and so on, what's your comments on that when the Opposition say those sort of comments in Parliament.  Is it true?

MARK DREYFUS: No and I wouldn't be accepting anything that this Opposition has had to say about the carbon price or anything to do with taking action on climate change.  We have had what I think is fair to call Tony Abbott talking crap and I think I would expect to hear a whole lot more of him talking crap in the coming months because it's been a constant campaign of misinformation.  I wouldn't be seeking any information, your listeners shouldn't be listening to the Opposition to get real information about the carbon price.

CRAIG HUTH: Well let's get the real information from you especially when it comes to power and electricity.  A lot of people at home, especially the pensioners and so on, say wow this carbon tax could cost us more with our electricity bill.  Yes or no?

MARK DREYFUS: We have said very clearly that there will be some rises in electricity and gas and across the board it will be a very modest rise indeed.  Across the board we are talking about on average about a 0.7% rise in prices, less than one cent in every dollar and nine out of ten households are going to get assistance Craig.  It is very important that people understand that nine out of ten households are going to be getting assistance and about six million Australian households will be getting assistance that meets or is more than what we expect to be the average price impact.

CRAIG HUTH: Rob Oakeshott has been copping a lot of flack in his electorate of course we are in Rob's electorate here, regarding the carbon tax.  A lot of people in his electorate oppose this carbon tax and of course you really do need the Independents when it comes to this sort of bill going through the house, your thoughts on Rob Oakeshott and his conviction and his foresight with this carbon tax, has he done the right thing for his electorate?  His electorate are pretty angry at the moment.

MARK DREYFUS: Absolutely.  I think the people in the electorate of Lyne can be very proud of their Member Rob Oakeshott, who is a man of vision, someone who has worked with the Government as indeed he has worked with Tony Windsor and Andrew Wilkie, the other crossbenchers, and Adam Bandt, who is the Greens Party representative. They are the four crossbenchers who have supported the Government with this clean energy package.  Rob Oakeshott understands the benefits that this is going to provide for all Australians and move us to a clean energy economy, to a cleaner environment and I have certainly enjoyed working with Rob.  He understands that this is about the future. This is about looking after our children, our children's children and making sure that they have the environment and indeed that the world has the environment that we should have.

CRAIG HUTH: Well let me pose a question to you. Hypothetical, if in the next election, the Opposition did win this carbon tax will come into play next year, do you believe that Tony Abbott will continue with this carbon tax or he is saying he will roll it back is that possible to roll it back or is he telling us a furphy?

MARK DREYFUS: Well I think he is telling, to use your words, he is telling a furphy.  I don't think he is to be believed on this.   If he is saying that he wants to repeal it, that he is going to be removing the pension increases that come with this carbon price package. That is a pension increase of $338 for singles and $510 for couples.  Tony Abbott is going to remove that.  He is going to remove the extra payments that are going to families getting family tax benefit.  He is going to remove the tax cuts most taxpayers who earn up to $80,000 will get at least $300 when we increase the tax free threshold from $6000 to $18,000.  Tony Abbott is saying, I am going to remove that tax cut as well.  And of course he would have to be paying for his plan, which involves taxing people to pay big polluters.  He has got a plan too, he likes people to forget about it because it is such a hopeless plan, but the Liberal Party has committed to the same cuts in carbon emissions that we have committed to which is a 5% cut off 2000 levels by 2020. It's just that they have got a plan which won't work and will be much more expensive than our plan.  So you have got a combination of taking away the tax cuts, taking away the benefits for pensioners and the extra cost of the Liberals plan to reduce our emissions.  I just don't think he is to be believed when he says he is going to repeal it.  I don't think it is going to happen.

CRAIG HUTH: -I am fascinated to know what your thoughts are with Mr Abbott always saying that the best way to rectify climate change is trees, trees and more trees.  What do you say to Tony Abbott?

MARK DREYFUS: Well, let's get the trees straight here.  Craig, he is talking about planting an area of trees about the same size of five Tasmanias or the size of Germany and it is just something that cannot happen.  That is his plan, or part of his plan, to meet the emissions reduction target that he says he agrees to.  And there is nothing that really adds up about the Liberals' so called Direct Action Plan. It would impose a cost because it is funded by taxes.  It would impose a cost of about 1300 per family and it has got things like, as I said, planting an area of trees the size of Germany. 

CRAIG HUTH: You think that's ‘pie in the sky' stuff'?

MARK DREYFUS: I do think it is ‘pie in the sky', like so much that Tony Abbott says.  He is just interested in playing politics.  And frankly, who would know what his position is on anything?  This is a bloke that has had eight different positions in the last two and a half years on the carbon price.  Starting with supporting an emissions trading scheme at the 2007 election. Supporting Kevin Rudd's emission trading scheme in July 2009. Then he was opposed. Then he supported a carbon tax (that was in July 2009). Then said it was all politics and said that the science of climate change was crap.  Who would know what Tony Abbott's position is?  

CRAIG HUTH: Mark, we're always hearing ‘toxic tax', ‘toxic tax' and the one line we're hearing a lot of as well is ‘the Prime Minister told a lie'.  She said ‘there will be no carbon tax'.  In your opinion, has the leader of the country got a right, or the party got a right to change their mind.  Now I'm putting that to you because people are saying ‘ah well, she said that it's not going to come in but now it is' and people are finding it a little hard to believe but I'm sure the Government has got a choice to change its mind.  Am I right in saying that?

MARK DREYFUS: When circumstances change, I don't know about you, I change my mind.  Now I am not being original in saying that, John Maynard Keynes once said it.  And of course, when circumstances change the Government is entitled to change its mind.  What has never been in doubt is that our Government, and the Labor Party, has always been committed to taking action on climate change and for several years has been committed to bringing in an emissions trading scheme.  That is what we are going to do.  It will be a full, fully traded emissions trading scheme on the first of July 2015 and we have got three years of the fixed price leading up to that. 

CRAIG HUTH: Have we had enough time to debate this carbon tax?  The Opposition thinks not and I've seen them yesterday in parliament bringing in the document which looked about a foot thick and they said basically they haven't had enough time.  Is that a lie?

MARK DREYFUS: We've spent a decade debating action on climate change.  We've spent a decade debating whether or not to have an emissions trading scheme.  There has been over 38 Government enquiries since 1984 on taking action on climate change.  I think we have had ample time.  I think most people are over it and are very pleased to see the Government getting on with the job.

CRAIG HUTH: Well I think you are absolutely right and I think next year it will be in.  I don't think you'll have any trouble getting it through but I guess the one thing the opposition will be looking at, and I have to ask you this just to finish up, will Prime Minister Gillard lead the government into the next election.  I know you know which tack I am coming in here and do you support her 100%. 

MARK DREYFUS: Absolutely.  Absolutely I support her and absolutely the Prime Minister is going to be leading our government to the next election and I am very proud to be part of a government led by Julia Gillard. 

CRAIG HUTH: So you would believe that all of this speculation and talk about Kevin Rudd - and we've seen Ms Bishop also make comment across the chamber saying he's still got the form Kevin Rudd - we're not going to see any leadership challenge.  I know it's a pretty contentious issue at the moment and it's the last thing that you really want to be talking about but do you believe that it could happen? 

MARK DREYFUS: Of course the Liberals want to talk this up, they love to talk about instability, they love to talk about leadership disputes, and it's a pretty good story for journalists to write about as well Craig.  But I can assure you, I can assure all your listeners, Julia Gillard is going to be leading our government to the next election in two years time.

CRAIG HUTH: Mark Dreyfus, you're a real pleasure to talk to.  Thank you so much.