THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
10 March 2011
TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH MARIUS BENSON – ABC NEWS RADIO
SUBJECT: CARBON PRICE POLICY
MARIUS BENSON. Still some issues for the Gillard Government at home though, Australia’s
biggest carbon emitters have stepped up their lobbying of the Government over its planned
carbon tax, calling for the tax to be delayed and compensation payments for them to be
The Australian Industry Greenhouse Network representing companies including Alcoa
Aluminium, Bluescope Steel and Rio Tinto says the Government’s current policy fails to
provide the key objective of business certainty.
Let’s get a Government response here, Marius Benson here to speak to Parliamentary
Secretary for Climate Change Mark Dreyfus joins us live on the line. Mark Dreyfus good
MARK DREYFUS. Good morning Marius.
MARIUS BENSON. This lobbying from the biggest emitters in Australia is perhaps not
surprising but can I ask about the specifics of what they’re calling for – a delay in the
introduction of the carbon tax. It’s due to come in July 1 next year. Is that negotiable?
MARK DREYFUS. As you said in your introduction, this is the kind of lobbying we expect
from people who have an interest, people who have a stake. It’s to be expected that
lobbying groups, big corporations will try and get advantage for themselves, try and work
through to the most advantageous position for themselves. But what I would say, Marius is
that this is the kind of discussion about the detail of the scheme that we’ve been looking
forward to, having announced the framework we’re now going to get down to the detail of
MARIUS BENSON. Okay well can I clarify what is negotiable in those talks about detail? Is
July 1 a detail that may be changed or is that set in concrete?
MARK DREYFUS. We’ve announced that this scheme is to commence in July 2012. It’s long
past time that we took action on climate change and we’ve spent now more than three
years talking about the detail of how to take action on climate change, what form of
emissions trading scheme is appropriate. The first of July 2012 from our view and the view
of the Multi Party Committee is that this is an appropriate time for this to come in.
MARIUS BENSON. What about compo that’s still to be negotiated so obviously not ruling
out any particular level of compensation for the big emitters?
MARK DREYFUS. Not at all, and that’s precisely what the Prime Minister announced under
two weeks ago now when she announced the framework of the mechanism , saying in the
clearest possible terms that there is going to be generous assistance for households, and
industry to make the transition to a low carbon economy. The exact amount of assistance
and to whom it’s going to go are matters that were now going to embark on negotiating and
looking forward to getting down to the detail with companies like those who’ve come out
MARIUS BENSON. The Government has said that the degree of uncertainty is quite
deliberate, your plan was to announce a framework, and then neg the details but business
and the network representing these emitters say that uncertainty is hurting us.
MARK DREYFUS. We need to start with a framework then we fill in the detail and the detail
is something we’re going to hear from them as to which industries assisistance is going to
go to and how much, but I would have thought that a fixed price at the start of the scheme
provides a very key part of certainty. We won’t be left wondering which you would under an
emissions trading scheme with a floating price, market price, we wouldn’t know until soon
around the date of starting what the price would be. With a fixed price, which we’re going
to announce well in advance there is certainty for business on that aspect at least and there
will be certainty also on the levels of assistance.
MARIUS BENSON. You are two weeks in to a campaign to sell the carbon tax and the ETS
that is to follow it -two weeks since Julia Gillard announced that. You have two years
perhaps before the next election to sell it, are you surprised by the level of adversity you’ve
struck in the first 14 days?
MARK DREYFUS. No we’ve seen from Tony Abbott right from day one that he’s only got one
speed and he’s only got one theme and that’s to oppose, oppose, oppose. He’s got no plan
at all, which is why he’s spending so much time scaring people and confusing people about
the details of our plan which of course we haven’t yet announced, and we haven’t yet
negotiated. So I’m not surprised at anything like this from Tony Abbott, we expect it and
equally we expect and we’re getting cooperation from business and business is working with
us to get down to the detail of the scheme.
MARK DREYFUS. Thanks very much.
MARIUS BENSON. Thank you. That’s the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change Mark
Dreyfus speaking to News Radio’s Marius Benson.