Greg Hunt

Federal Member for Flinders | Minister for Health

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Transcript, Doorstop, Melbourne

Monday, 30 March 2015

Topics: Issues paper on ‘setting Australia’s post-2020 target for greenhouse gas emissions’, bank tax.

On Monday, we released figures which show that Australia was on track to meet or beat our 2020 targets. We are reducing emissions without a carbon tax and we’ll achieve our international obligations.

On Thursday, we released the Safeguards Paper which is the next stage of the $2.55 billion dollar Emissions Reduction Fund.

And today, we are releasing our paper outlining public consultation for the road to Paris – the pathway to establishing the next global agreement for emissions reduction for the post-2020 period.

Let me be clear – Australia will be a part of a good global agreement. We want to see emissions reduced. We are committed to action on climate change because it is real and significant and important.

We are one of the few countries in the world to have met and beaten our first round of Kyoto targets and to be on track to meet and beat our second round of Kyoto targets.

So we want to be part of a post-2020 period. We’re inviting the public to contribute to the discussion of what our targets should be.

Our approach is very clear – we can do this, as we see now, without a carbon tax, without making families pay for higher electricity prices and gas prices. I would call on Bill Shorten today to rule out higher electricity prices for Australian families.

We have reduced electricity prices by the greatest quarterly reduction in Australian history. Mr Shorten wants to not just reverse that but to increase electricity prices.

We are going to meet our targets. We’re going to do it without the carbon tax. We've already contributed $200 million to towards the global project of reducing emissions in other countries. Now it's about Australia playing its part in ensuring that the world has a good global agreement.

Minister, in the upcoming negotiations will you expect or will you be calling for Australia to get special treatment because of our special structure of our economy, as was alluded to in the report?

Look, Australia will play its part in a very constructive way. Each country will be making commitments based on its own economic profile. That is part of the negotiations. It's how the first Kyoto period and the second Kyoto period was established.

So our approach is to be the absolute best we can as a country. We've met our targets once, we’re about to do it a second time. On each of those two periods we will beat what we said we will do.

So, when we promise we don't just deliver, we over-deliver as a country, which is the place to be.

And on each occasion other countries have made promises and not reached their targets. We’re the opposite – we’ve made promises and we've beaten and will beat out targets.

Would you expect that our overall target will be lower in a percentage basis than other countries?

Look, what we see is that at the moment we are on track to minus 13 per cent reduction compared with our 2005 figures. That is very good by global standards and we’ll continue to be very good by global standards.

Other countries promised a reduction but delivered an increase. We promised a reduction and then beat our targets in Kyoto I and we’re on track to do that in Kyoto II, and we’ll continue to be a constructive global player.

Minister, as someone who campaigned hard against the carbon tax, what do you think of the idea of your government introducing a bank deposit tax?

Look, I'll leave that for others to talk about but we've just returned bank deposits to over 100,000 Australians. Bill Shorten put his hand into the bank, into the till, and took half a billion dollars away from Australian families, and in particular from pensioners and young people – those that were most likely to have had rainy day or savings accounts.

Our approach is to give money back to people and that's what we've done with the carbon tax reduction.

It was Labor policy though before the last election and there are reports today that the Government is considering doing something similar. Would you support that?

Look, I will simply leave that to the relevant Ministers. It's not something in terms of discussions which has been before the Cabinet, and I'll let relevant Ministers deal with it.

But the Government did promise no new taxes, so wouldn't that be a broken promise?

I think you'll find that the Government has been very clear on its position in relation to taxes. We’re reducing them and Labor wants to increase them with a new carbon and electricity tax.

So does that mean that you’re ruling that out then? You're saying it's not happening?

Look it's not something that I've been involved with and it's not something that I'd proffer a view on other than that we’re the party of lower taxes and Labor is the party of higher taxes.

Alright, thank you very much.


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