Member for Isaacs

ABC NewsRadio Marius Benson 4 May 2011

04 May 2011


Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency

4 May 2011


HOST: Prime Minister Julia Gillard still has some selling to do on carbon pricing, judging by
the latest opinion poll. A news poll in today’s Australian shows that while three quarters of
Australians believe man made climate change is real, only 30 per cent support her carbon
price plan.

Mark Dreyfus is the Government’s Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and he’s
speaking to Marius Benson.

BENSON: Mark Dreyfus, the Prime Minister is hosting a dinner for business leaders tonight
to sell her plans for a carbon tax and it sounds like it’s going to be a hard sell from what a lot
of business leaders have been saying publicly lately?

DREYFUS: The Prime Minister, Greg Combet and the rest of Government are consulting with
business constantly as part of developing a carbon price and we’re going to continue to
consult over the next couple of months. Just yesterday, I and the Minister for Agriculture
Joseph Ludwig met with the Land Sector Working Group and we’ve got other meetings
coming up with the business round table and other business groups as we work towards the
detail of a carbon price.

BENSON. The Nationals Leader Warren Truss reckons it will take a triple round of after
dinner drinks for the business leaders to go home from that shin dig with any sense of well

DREYFUS. Well that may be the way that Warren Truss conducts his meetings. We’ll be
approaching this in a measured way. This is part of a long process of consulting with
business as part of developing the carbon price.

BENSON. And if asked for a progress report I presume you will say you were making
progress in these discussions?

DREYFUS. I’d say it’s better than that. We’ve had very productive engagement with business
at all of these working groups, all of these round tables and all of the one on one meetings
that the Prime Minister’s been having, that Greg Combet’s been having, that I’ve been
having and that other minsters have been having. And that’s indeed what was intended by
the Prime Minister’s announcement back on the 24th of February of the broad architecture
of the carbon price. We’re now working on the detail.

BENSON. There doesn’t seem to be evidence that you’re winning the battle for public
opinion though. There’s a Newspoll out today that shows that just 30 per cent of people are
in favour of the carbon tax, 60 per cent are opposed to it and even more alarmingly perhaps
from your point of view that comes from a sample group that says 75 per cent believe that
climate change is real and that human activity is contributing to it.

DREYFUS. We’re not in the habit of commenting on Newspolls, still less are we in the habit
of governing by Newspolls. What we are focussed on is making sure that people understand
the needs for a carbon price that will support jobs, protect the environment and transform
the economy to a low carbon economy. That’s why the Government is consulting
extensively with industry, with business, with unions and community groups and of course
seeking advice from experts like the Productivity Commission and Professor Ross Garnaut.

BENSON. But why is the public seemingly so much more in accord with Tony Abbott’s views
and a message on a carbon tax than on the Governments?

DREYFUS. That’s what you’d expect in the face of a scare campaign, and to use a phrase that
President Obama used last week ‘making stuff up’ because that’s what Tony Abbott’s been
doing. I think Australians expect us to get on with the job of tackling climate change and our
work on this will be finalised in coming months. Undertaking this kind of reform is never
easy and it’s made harder by the sort of scare campaign that Tony Abbott’s been running
but I wouldn’t be looking to him for a source of information.

BENSON. But sadly from your point of view the public seems to be looking to him for a
source of information or opinion. You say it’s a scare campaign, he’s making stuff up but
he’s winning the argument in the domain of the public?

DREYFUS. Of course he’s making stuff up because we haven’t yet settled on the detail of the
actual carbon price and negotiations are not yet completed on the levels of assistance that
are going to be given in particular to households and to affected industries, and that’s the
thing I need to make clear that under the policy that we’ve outlined less than 1000 of the
biggest polluters will be required to pay for their carbon pollution and every cent that’s
raised in revenue from the carbon price will go in assistance to households, to supporting
jobs and to tackling climate change.

BENSON. Was it a mistake politically to leave this detail free vacuum for other people to fill
for such a long time while you negotiate the terms of the carbon tax?

DREYFUS. Not at all. It’s a perfectly standard way of developing Government policy to
indicate the broad architecture of the scheme, then to listen, to consult and to negotiate
over the detail of whatever the particular policy measure is and that’s what we’ve done in
this instance.

BENSON. Mark Dreyfus thanks very much.