GREG HUNT: At six minutes to this morning’s committee hearing, the Treasurer finally released the updated Treasury modelling. What we know from today is this the ‘world’s best Treasurer’ has the world’s worst modelling. This carbon tax modelling is worthless because it is based on a fantasy. It’s based on a fantasy, still, that the United States will be part of a global trading scheme by 2016. This is utterly out of line with anything that is realistic. It’s not in line with Australia’s diplomatic negotiating position. It’s not in line with any sense or understanding of what the world is doing and if the modelling is wrong, the policy is wrong. If the modelling is wrong, the policy is wrong.
We also know from today’s modelling that electricity prices will still skyrocket, that Australia will still be spending, through our companies and therefore from the pockets of mums and dads, $3½ billion a year by 2020 on foreign carbon credits and $57 billion a year by 2050 on foreign carbon credits.
So the policy is based on an assumption which is utterly disconnected from the real world. That assumption is that the United States will be part of a global trading scheme, and therefore have a ‘cap and trade’ scheme, by 2016 and if the modelling is wrong, the policy is wrong and I’ll just turn to Simon.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Thanks, Greg. This morning Wayne Swan treated the Parliament with complete and utter contempt. He dropped on the table modelling of the carbon tax impact which he has had since Sunday, which he quoted in his Economic Note on Sunday, and yet he withheld it from the Parliamentary Committee, that Labor established under Labor’s terms with Labor’s dates for hearings, just at the last minute with no opportunity for members to read it before they had to ask questions about it. It was a completely unacceptable stunt and tactic from the Labor Party and from Mr Swan in particular and frankly he owes all members of the Committee including the Labor Chair, Ms Burke, an apology for the contempt with… which he showed.
In terms of the modelling itself, well as Greg has indicated it demonstrates very clearly that this carbon tax policy has no merit, that it is built on a false premise or a series of false premises about what will happen globally and what its impacts will be in terms of the actual reductions of emissions.
We would think it best and would call upon the Government to actually release complete economic and financial costings through beyond the forward estimates for this carbon tax. Under the old CPRS [Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme], they released modelling and financial estimates out to 2020. For this carbon tax, they’ve only released them for the forward estimates. I believe it is essential they release the full detail. We heard late in this morning’s hearing that because of the international permits there is a real risk the Government will not be able to afford to maintain its compensation going forward and that risk, of course, means either a budget blowout or Australian households or industry will miss out. They need to clarify what work they have done in this space and actually release all of that work for the Committee to examine in the very short few days that it has left.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hunt, the submission to the UN with Norway suggests that there could be an international framework from 2015, that’s what we should be working towards. Is that likely to happen?
GREG HUNT: Well, we would like to have an international agreement but what the submission notes is that there’s no realistic prospect before 2015 six years after Copenhagen and even on that best case scenario, and we’re happy to work towards that, but even on that best case scenario the assumption in the Treasury modelling becomes utterly, utterly unbelievable because the Treasury then says and this is not their fault, it is the Government that has put these parameters on, the Ministers the Treasury then says ‘well, a year later, the United States will have a full ‘cap and trade’ scheme; by the way India and China will be part of a global trading scheme.’ There is zero prospect that by 2016 there will be a global trading scheme with economy-wide carbon taxes in China, India and the United States
JOURNALIST: You say this is based on an assumption of a global trading scheme, but in fact it’s based on an assumption of a global carbon price. They’re two very different things. You don’t need a trading scheme in the US to have a global carbon price.
GREG HUNT: Well, you can’t have a global system without the US having achieved that outcome. We’ve been through this very carefully. Right at the heart of the Treasury modelling is an assumption that the United States will have a carbon tax, a ‘cap and trade’ scheme or something equivalent because otherwise the modelling falls over.
JOURNALIST: But they can have an effective carbon price through things other than a trading scheme… [unclear]
GREG HUNT: Well, that would be very interesting for the Government to concede that because they’ve said that the only way of doing this for Australia is through a major electricity tax.
JOURNALIST: But they have conceded it Treasury officials conceded it this morning.
GREG HUNT: Yeah, I think that you’ll find that what they’re saying is that this model relies entirely upon the US having a ‘cap and trade’ scheme. Anything else, any other assumption from the Government, makes it clear they don’t need a carbon tax in Australia.
Alright? Thank you very much.
JOURNALIST: Can I just ask one more question?
GREG HUNT: Sure.
JOURNALIST: The ABC’s program At Home With Julia has a sex scene involving the Australian flag. Do you think that’s offensive and it shouldn’t go to air?
GREG HUNT: Look, I am pretty relaxed about media operating, doing their own thing. I’m not one for censorship. Do I think it’s tasteful? No. Do I think it should be censored? No.