'Nothing to fear from carbon tax'

Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaking to the public at the Community Cabinet meeting at Redbank Plains State High School.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaking to the public at the Community Cabinet meeting at Redbank Plains State High School. David Nielsen

A PUBLIC forum was told by Prime Minister Julia Gillard last night that there was nothing to fear from the carbon tax and her desire to steer Australia towards a clean energy future.

Redbank Plains High hosted a Community Cabinet meeting and public forum, where hundreds of people attended to quiz the PM and her Cabinet.

And the hit issues of the carbon tax, clean energy and the environment did not take long to surface.

A student asked Ms Gillard when Australia was going to forsake fossil fuels as a source of energy once and for all.

Ms Gillard made the point that wouldn't be happening any time soon, but did reinforce her vision for a clean energy future.

"We certainly want to see our nation have a clean energy future," she said.

"We are going to use fossil fuels for a long time to come but we are going to change our energy use so that we are increasingly using power from cleaner and renewable energies.

"As a nation we have nothing to be afraid of.

"It is a place of abundant renewable energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal ... and we can be leaders in making use of these renewable energies and create jobs and opportunities that come with this clean energy future.

"That is what pricing carbon is about ... and cutting carbon pollution which is causing climate change."

A large group in the audience were wearing T-shirts promoting the "Gonski review", a Federal Government-initiated review into the funding of the education system.

The review recommended a national education funding system based on needs and was backed by Redbank Plains High School principal Llew Paulger in his introductory speech to last night's forum.

"I implore you to implement the recommendations," he said to the array of cabinet ministers.

Redbank Plains High has already seen massive improvements in school attendance after receiving funding from a national partnership funding arrangement with the Federal Government.

The biggest cheer came from the audience when Minister for School Education Peter Garrett said the government intended putting the recommendations of the Gonski Review into legislation by the end of the year.

Ms Gillard received the occasional odd question from the floor.

One questioner said her stance as an atheist somehow contradicted the constitution but she deflected that by saying it didn't matter what belief system we share, so long as we are working together for the betterment of the nation.

There were scores of hands going up in the audience and no time to answer all of the questions.

Bundamba flood victim Frank Richardson was one of those.

His double-storey house was flooded last year. His insurance premium has gone up 500% and he wants to know why.

"It has gone up to $548 a month when I was paying $105. That is just too much when you are on a pension," he said.

"The average person can't afford that. I have got a mortgage too.

"The government is going to have to get the insurances unified across the board.

"Everyone needs flood insurance but I can't understand why they want to hike it so much."

Topics:  carbon tax ipswich julia gillard

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