Transcript: Introducing a price on carbon - Weekend Sunrise

Subject: Climate change and carbon pricing

EMDUR:  At the moment, carbon pollution can be pumped into the atmosphere free of charge.  But once the tax comes in, companies will have to pay for those emissions because the carbon price makes dirty fuels more expensive.  Now, it’s hoped businesses will increase energy efficiency and go green, with renewable power sources like solar and wind power, which won’t be taxed.  Hope that makes a bit of sense for you.

Now joining us now from Canberra is the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, Mark Dreyfus.

Mark, good morning to you.  Huge day ahead for you and your boss, Julia Gillard.  Now we got a, a sort of a bit of a, taste of the big sell yesterday.  Let’s have a look:

PRIME MINISTER:  For the first time in Australia’s history, we will put a price on carbon pollution.  No longer will the nation’s biggest polluters be able to pollute our atmosphere for free.

EMDUR:  Mark, it has been complex and complicated - a tough sell.  What are your priorities in convincing Australians that we have to do this?

DREYFUS:  Larry, today the facts are going to be laid out for all to see, and you’ll see, Australian’s will see, that it’s a very different story from the one that the Opposition has tried to tell. Your explanation was a good one that we’re putting a price tag on pollution.  Large polluters are going to have to pay a price for every tonne of pollution that they put in the atmosphere.  It will give them an incentive to cut carbon pollution and it’ll give them a reason to invest in clean energy like wind, solar and gas.

EMDUR:  Now, so as far as compensation goes, we know pensioners are big winners so far and today’s papers are talking about carbon cash back and miniscule price rises.  Are you at risk of over-compensating and confusing this even more, do you think?

DREYFUS:  I don’t think so.  We’re going to, we’re trying to make it clear that there will be assistance. Nine in ten households are going to receive assistance in the form of tax cuts or additional benefits.  And in some cases people will receive more, on average, than the amount that it’s expected they will have to pay as a result of the price on carbon.

EMDUR:  Alright.  Mark, Tony Abbott’s arguments against this have resonated strongly out there.  He’s spoken a lot about the risk of job losses, about the cost to families.  Can you win this debate?

DREYFUS:  Absolutely.  As I think I have said already, we’ve got the facts coming out today and it’s a very different story to the one the Opposition is trying to tell.  This is the end of the Abbott fear campaign, because now we’ve got the detail.  And I’m looking forward to getting out there and explaining it to the Australian people.

EMDUR: It’s all come down to today.  Do you feel like until today that you’ve failed to explain it properly?

DREYFUS:  Well, we haven’t had the detail of it yet.  It’s going to be clear, as of today, just how this carbon price is going to work: that it is a price on pollution; that it’s going to drive investment in clean energy; it’s going to provide incentives to move to clean energy.  It’s going to be clear from today that big polluters will pay - not Australians across the board - and it’s going to be clear that all of the money from this carbon price is going to go to jobs, to households and to investing in our clean energy future, that our children deserve.

EMDUR:  Mark, after all this cutting through it today, are you confident that Australia will wake up tomorrow and go “yes, this is a good idea”?

DREYFUS:  I think it’s going to take some time because this is a complex package.  It’s taken us a while to put all the details together.  But now that we’ve got the package, and it’s all going to be out there today, I’m confident that Australians will see that it’s a very different story than the one that our opponents have been trying to tell. 

EMDUR:  Big day for you Mark, Mark Dreyfus in Canberra, thanks for joining us this morning on Weekend Sunrise.

DREYFUS:   Good to be with you Larry.