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Monday, 21 November 2011
Page: 9002


Senator COLBECK (Tasmania) (15:02): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Finance and Deregulation (Senator Wong) to a question without notice asked by Senator Cormann today relating to the carbon tax.

I rise to take note of the answer given by Senator Wong to the question asked today by Senator Cormann. Today, in response to the question asked by Senator Cormann, the process of misleading the Australian community on the carbon tax continues. We know that this whole process began with the lie perpetrated by the Prime Minister that 'there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead'. Now we know that the modelling contained assumptions that a large number of our competitors around the globe would also have similar forms of process in place to deal with their CO2 emissions by 2016. So that assumption is put into the modelling much like the assumptions that were in the modelling under the CPRS that there would be no impact on employment. We know that that particular outcome turned out to be an input to the modelling, not an output. But in this circumstance, the input is that other countries will have similar methodologies in place to deal with their carbon dioxide emissions by 2016. But we now know, courtesy of the visit to this country last week by President Obama, that this will not be the case. The US will not be taking such action by 2016. President Obama described the move by Prime Minister Gillard and the Labor Party as a 'bold move'. Many of us have recollections of Sir Humphrey talking to Prime Minister Hacker undertaking a 'bold move' and the look on Prime Minister Hacker's face when that description was made to him about taking such a 'bold move'. We know that this carbon tax will take up to $9 billion a year out of this economy. We know that that is many times more than is being taken out of, say, the European Union on an annual basis by their current provisions.

The government through this debate tried to convince the Australian people that Australia needed to do something to be part of the carbon reduction debate. But we know because of the Productivity Commission review that we are already about midfield without the carbon tax that the government promised not to put into place prior to the last election. We were already part of the process to reduce our carbon emissions; we had already taken action. Some of that action had been supported by the opposition, such as the Renewable Energy Target Scheme. So to imply that we are doing nothing is again part of the act of misleading the Australian community that this government has perpetrated since the election when Prime Minister Gillard, six days before the election, said to the Australian community, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' She repeated that statement the day before the election when votes were vital. That was the promise that Prime Minister Gillard made to the Australian people and yet, as soon as she was in a position of needing to negotiate with the Greens, she flipped. She was prepared to put aside her promise to the Australian people for power. She was not prepared to say to the Australian Greens: 'Let's just hang on a minute. I made a promise to the Australian people; I would like to keep it.' No, she was prepared to walk away from the promise she made to the Australian people and legislate—as we did last week—for this carbon tax which she said, six days before the election, would not happen under a government she led. But also, as we now have had revealed through the admission by President Obama, the United States will not be going down the same track we have—they will not be introducing a carbon tax. The Canadians said they will not be introducing a carbon tax.

What we would like to see is the modelling reworked to demonstrate the reality of the current worldwide situation. We have seen the complete debacle around the modelling as it stands. In the first instance the modelling was conducted on a carbon price of $20 a tonne, and yet the government then announced a price of $23. The complete mess that this government has been through in putting this tax into place, driven by their political masters in the Greens, needs to be condemned. The government should be condemned for taking us to a place where we now know that the rest of the world is not going to go.