The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

Topics: Carbon Tax repeal, Emissions Reduction Fund, Bandt comments

Transcript: Doorstop Interview - Parliament House, Canberra
21 October 2013

GREG HUNT: I understand the Shadow Ministry met earlier today. Australians are waiting for Bill Shorten to make up his mind. Australians are waiting for Bill Shorten to make up his mind as to whether he will be 'Electricity' Bill or whether he will support our push for lower bills.

Right now it is time to end the indecision over the carbon tax from the Labor Party.

It's time to end the flip-flopping and it is time for the Labor Party to accept the outcome of the election.

This is the moment when Mr Shorten and his colleagues decide whether or not they accept the will of the Australian people. The legislation is on the table, they should be able to make a decision, it's very simple.

It finishes the carbon tax. They said they had terminated the carbon tax; not even that they would terminate the carbon tax, but they said they had terminated it. And the reason why? They said it was too high, that it wasn't necessary to have it in that form. They know the Australian people voted to repeal the carbon tax and we are waiting for a decision from Mr Shorten.

JOURNALIST: You say the legislation's on the table, when will we see the Direct Action detailed?

GREG HUNT: Well we've actually taken to the election what is arguably the most comprehensive single policy in the last fifteen years - people can make their own judgement on that - but we set out in detail the structure of a reverse auction, we set out in detail the costings of three-hundred million, five-hundred million, seven-hundred-and-fifty million and a billion dollars over the next four years.

We set out the architecture, built upon the Clean Energy Regulator, built upon the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme and the Carbon Farming Initiative and we also set out the consultative process.

We said that within thirty days we would release the Terms of Reference and we did that.

Business wanted an opportunity to consult. They were never given that sort of real opportunity from the ALP. We have done that. We've done what we've said so it's comprehensive but there's room for discussion.

JOURNALIST: You said you would be relying on the new Senate to pass the Direct Action legislation?

GREG HUNT: No, with great respect that's incorrect.

We would like Direct Action approved by this Parliament, we are not waiting for the new Senate and we'll be proceeding but there are two separate actions on the table here.

Right now, not just in the first week of Parliament but on the first day of legislative sittings we will introduce the Carbon Tax Repeal Bill.

We would like that through the Senate before the end of Christmas, we would like that decision to be made to enforce the outcome of the election, and then a Green Paper on the Emissions Reduction Fund before Christmas and a White Paper shortly in the New Year.

JOURNALIST: But the question I was trying to ask was given that the new Senate is also quite sceptical about Direct Action in respect a lot of those prospect Senators have said they don't want to vote the Direct Action either, they'll vote for the Carbon tax Repeal but not the Direct Action.

Don't you run the risk of having no climate policy (inaudible)?

GREG HUNT: I am extremely confident - exceptionally confident - that we will enact the Emissions Reduction Fund.

JOURNALIST: Why?

JOURNALIST: Why are you so confident?

GREG HUNT: Well I think there are a variety of ways to do it and I have no doubt that we will be able to implement the Emissions Reduction Fund one way or another.

JOURNALIST: Well you might not get the legislation?

JOURNALIST: So are you saying...

GREG HUNT: Phil?

JOURNALIST: So you're saying you do it without legislation, you've...

GREG HUNT: I won't pre-empt the outcomes but there are a variety of means to enact the Emissions Reduction Fund.

JOURNALIST: I'm not asking you to pre-empt the outcome but is an option you know regulating or some other non-legislative...

GREG HUNT: Look our primary approach is through the legislature but there are other options to do it; there is no doubt about that.

JOURNALIST: Mr Hunt what do you make of the comments by Adam Bandt the other day linking global warming to the New South Wales bushfires?

GREG HUNT: There are two thousand odd fire fighters in the field as we speak, there have been over two hundred homes lost and of course a terrible tragedy on the Central Coast.

No-one, no-one should be politicising these bush fires and I would say that respectfully to the gentleman in question.

JOURNALIST: Mr Hunt is the carbon tax repeal legislation negotiable?

GREG HUNT: Well the legislation is on the table, we are express and clear as to when it will take effect and the form in which it will take effect and we've not heard any proposals from the ALP but let this be known that we are determined that it take effect and that it will be passed and we will not stop until it's passed.

We await any decision, any clarification, any end to the division from the ALP. I will say this; I think the reason why Mr Shorten is unable to make up his mind is because he's got a divided party.

We have Senator Bishop saying pass the repeal legislation, Nick Champion saying pass the repeal legislation. We have others who are saying don't do it, and then others who simply aren't saying anything.

It's Mr Shorten who has to show whether or not he's leading the ALP or whether he is divided in every direction.

JOURNALIST: What parts of the Emission Reduction Fund could be done by regulation?

GREG HUNT: Oh look I won't speculate on the individual elements but there are a number of ways and that's why I am extremely confident that not only will we repeal the carbon tax but we will also be able to implement the Direct Action programme.

JOURNALIST: I was going to say Bill Shorten has been pretty clear that he still does want some sort of price on carbon, even though he'll support the termination of the tax itself.

GREG HUNT: Well I would like to know if Mr Shorten and the ALP are going to support termination of the carbon tax.

There's a very simple, clear question; the legislation before Parliament doesn't have any tricks in it, there should be no excuses, there should be no reason, they went to the election saying that they had terminated the carbon tax.

JOURNALIST: But not a price on carbon, they've just terminated the carbon tax, but they still want a price on carbon?

GREG HUNT: Unfortunately they didn't terminate the carbon tax.

They said that they had, they clearly implied that they would, now they appear - now it appears that they won't so this is the simple test for them.

Did they hear the Australian people speak; have they heard the outcome of the election? Thank you very much. I'll take one more from Syd.

JOURNALIST: You'd have to concede though that Labor would have some point that they're going to have to vote on the carbon tax repeal before they see the final shape of the Direct Action policy?

GREG HUNT: Well not really with great respect because during the campaign they were making the point - I remember doing a debate with Mark Butler on Lateline when he wanted to make sure that the legislation wasn't merged.

During that debate in the last week I made it clear that in fact the legislation would be separated out so as there would be no barrier to them repealing the carbon tax. So we did what they were looking for in the last week, we separated out the legislation.

I think they're just looking for excuses. If we combined them they'd say "oh that's too hard they're combined." If we separate them they'd also say they should be together. They are looking for excuses. They should listen to the people and they should repeal the tax. Thank you.

(ENDS)

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