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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 9379

Senator EDWARDS (South Australia) (15:30): I rise to take note of answers given by the Minister representing the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. In so doing I will address some of Senator Bishop's words. He pays attention to our commentary over here, and I am glad he gives it due consideration. He mentioned the three Rs, and when I look across to the other side I can only point to these three Rs: repudiate, retreat and resile. Before I move on I must address Senator Feeney's words. He calls the coalition an edifice of policy formation. He is a credibility vacuum.

Senator Wong continues to evade answering the questions put to her, and Senator McEwen would take great interest because, as a great South Australian also representing that state, she would be very interested in the exorbitant cost of living that this carbon tax is likely to impose not only on South Australians but on all Australians. I am concerned, though, about commentary made in public or otherwise. The Chief Executive Officer of Essential Services Commission of South Australia, ESCOSA, Paul Kerin, includes in the four reasons for hikes in electricity prices in South Australia the introduction of a price on carbon dioxide emissions by the federal government. As Minister Wong said in her answer, there is this subsidy or this payback, but why is there no talk in here? Because people do not expect to ever receive the subsidy. Why is that? I go back to that credibility vacuum that Senator Feeney led me to: 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' That is the credibility vacuum and that is why people like Paul Kerin, the Chief Executive Officer of the Essential Services Commission of South Australia, do not mention any subsidy or any kind of offset payment back to families in any of his public comments.

The carbon tax is also leading to the Uniting Care Wesley spokesman Mr Mark Henley coming out to join consumer representatives across the nation in their call for how they are going to control these ascending essential services costs emanating from the imposition of a carbon tax. Senator Eggleston quite rightly referred to the Swiss banking giant UBS, which an article in the Australian reported:

… says the European Union's emissions trading scheme has cost the continent's consumers $287 billion—

which is the equivalent of €210 billion—

for 'almost zero impact' on cutting carbon emissions, and has warned that the EU's carbon pricing market is on the verge of a crash next year.

The article went on to say:

Describing the EU's ETS as having 'limited benefits and embarrassing consequences', the report said there was fading political support for the scheme

I go back to another comment that Senator Feeney brought up. He talks about the cost of the coalition's direct action plan but he conveniently—and quite misleadingly, I suspect, although that is the impression he wants to get out there—quotes us out to 2020 when we cannot get hold of any modelling from the government beyond the current estimates period. Why is that? Because there is one rule for us and one rule for the Gillard government, which says it will not hand out its modelling beyond 2014-15. When Senator Feeney talks about the direct action plan of the coalition he talks about it going out to the year 2020: 'Here we go again, Senator Cormann. They are just trying to play that old trick again, and you know they are out there every day trying to put this. The coalition are out to 2020. We will only give you out to 2015.' It is a complete credibility void. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.