SUBJECT: The Clean energy future plan
Marius Benson: Mark Dreyfus a lot of negotiations have brought you to this point, the bills were introduced yesterday, the debate begins today. Can anything significant change in these bills as a result of the debate opening today?
Mark Dreyfus: We have the support of the cross bench votes in the House of Representatives and in the Senate and it is a negotiated package. Of course if there are practical amendments that are needed we will consider them.
Marius Benson: But that is just details? Nothing substantial can change as a result of this debate opening today?
Mark Dreyfus: We announced the policy on the 10th of July, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Climate Change, Greg Combet, announced the policy on the 10th of July. We're looking to make sure this legislation, introduced yesterday, gives effect to that policy, which we announced on the 10th of July.
Marius Benson: How concerned are you by the evidence that there is overwhelming public opposition to a carbon tax?
Mark Dreyfus: Well I don't accept that there is overwhelming public opposition as you suggest. What we know is that we need a carbon price to tackle climate change, we know it's the right thing to do for the environment and we know it is the right thing to do for competitiveness of the Australian economy.
Marius Benson: Now the Opposition says that the Labor Government has a history of getting legislation wrong. It points to issues like the pink batts program, you can't be trusted to get things right, there should be more time for debate on these bills.
Mark Dreyfus: That example you have given is not a matter that required legislation. This legislation will have more time for debate than the Howard Government allowed on legislation on the GST, on the sale of Telstra and on WorkChoices. And I would point out that what we have got is an Opposition that is wanted to engage in yet more obstruction, more wrecking tactics. We've offered to extend the House's sittings so there can be more time for debate, but the Opposition has rejected this offer. It doesn't take long to say "No" and that is all the Opposition want to do.
Marius Benson: On the schedule you have set out, you will have the bill...the debate begins today...through the House of Reps next month, October, through the Senate in November, into law by then and operating by July next year.
Mark Dreyfus: That's right. The schedule that the House adopted yesterday will see a vote on the 12th of October, then into the Senate and we are expecting the legislation to be passed through the Australian Parliament by the end of this year and as you just said, commencing on the 1st of July, 2012.
Marius Benson: And if the electoral schedule doesn't change that gives voters about a year and several months to experience the reality of the carbon tax, before they vote on the carbon tax in 2013. Do you think they will be experiencing much pain in that first fifteen months or so?
Mark Dreyfus: We know that the modelling has shown that the carbon price, which will come into effect on the 1st of July, next year, we'll see a modest increase of around 0.7% of the Consumer Price Index. We are confident that within months of this carbon price commencing next year, the Opposition's misrepresentations and deceit will be clear. And we think that they'll be judged harshly for the kind of scare campaign- baseless scare campaign- that they've been engaged in.
GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: Mark Dreyfus, the Parliamentary Secretary on Climate Change, with Marius Benson.