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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 992


Mr BROUGH (Fisher) (10:37): The public listening to this debate today must wonder whether they are living in a parallel universe. On 7 September we had an election. In December 2009 Tony Abbott was elected Leader of the Liberal Party fundamentally for one reason: he stood on a principled position that he believed that the carbon tax as enunciated by the Labor Party was not the right direction for Australia, he did not agree with the position that his own party was adopting and he put a contrary position. It was adopted by the majority of the Liberal Party. He was elected leader. For the next four years he campaigned, as the Labor Party said in this place and in the public arena, up hill, down dale, in every business, in every household, making sure every Australian knew the position that the coalition held dearly—that is: (1) that climate change is real, (2) that humans have an impact, (3) that carbon dioxide is a contributor and (4) that the Labor Party's policy to answer this problem was wrong. It is that simple. So the public must be wondering why we stand in this place, hour after hour, debating something that they have already spoken on.

I hear quite a few of those opposite, both in this place and in the other place and also in the public arena, saying, 'We have a mandate.' Well, in 2010 you went to an election saying, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead,' under your then leader, but you changed your position.

Ms MacTiernan interjecting

Mr BROUGH: Can I ask a question of the member interjecting for her to answer when she gets up to speak. Answer this to the public: if you are going to maintain this policy position, is it going to be in isolation or are you also going to retain every other policy position you took to the 2013 election, such as taking a tax cut to the Northern Territory—there's a thought bubble for you—or perhaps relocating the Navy from Sydney to Brisbane? Is it one in, all in, or is it cherry-picking for political purposes against the will of the public?

Can I also take those opposite to the notion that 'the Labor Party got elected and we have to represent the views of the public on this issue and in the other place, the Senate, we still hold the numbers'. For those opposite, only half the Senate goes to an election at any one time and you lost a whole third of your senators—gone, wiped out—because the public did not want what you had to offer. I say to the shadow Treasurer there at the table today, here is the challenge for you: go to the seat of Griffith over the next two months, get out there on the doorsteps of the people of Griffith, knock on their doors and say, 'I'm here to reintroduce the carbon tax—tell me what you think.' Turn up to the small businesses, the cafe owners, and say, 'I'm your carbon tax man and I'm here to help.' I can just see that happening, because yesterday he got up in here and gave the most confected piece of oratory you have heard for some time; it was a piece of theatre.

What I hope to bring to this House in the next few minutes are the real-life experiences of the people of Fisher, the businesses who have been hurt by this tax, who have not been able to employ some of their neighbours as a result of this tax which has caused them heartache and who expect me as the representative not only to vote against what the Labor Party put up and for the repeal bills but also to bring to this place their stories so that perhaps that can have some impact upon those opposite.

Before I do, though, many of those opposite have talked about the Direct Action Plan, that this is a fig leaf and the fact that we have not put out into the public arena what we are going to do on day one. We have enunciated in detail the principles behind it, the money that will support it and what we aim to achieve. But unlike the Labor Party, who gave us things like pink batts which killed our fellow Australians and cost a billion dollars to have rectified because they acted before they thought, we will not follow those practices. This is what this government will do. First of all, terms of reference were released on 16 October. Submissions closed only a couple of days ago, and my understanding is that several hundred organisations and individuals made submissions, putting their ideas forward on how this should work. These submissions will be evaluated. There will then be a green paper released, in mid-December, which the public can have involvement with, about how this should work, so we do not make the mistakes and follies of those opposite in wasting billions of dollars and costing lots of other hardship that I have already referred to. Then, in approximately March or April next year, the final white paper will come out so that we can actually have a policy that people can have confidence in because they have been brought into the confidence of the government and have been part of the process. So, far from it being a fig leaf, this is a proper, dedicated process to ensure that taxpayers' money is well spent to get the outcomes that the country deserves.

Let me now turn to real-life experiences. The first time in my campaign office I had a call from Bill Henneberry, who is a trawler operator, he said: 'I just don't know where to turn. No-one is listening. I'm listening to these debates but no-one is hearing me—no-one is hearing what I have to put up with.' Typical of the last shadow minister who spoke, there was not one story about anybody in the Wollongong district that she represents that had come to her about the real-life experience. There seems to be a disconnect between the Labor Party, its rhetoric and the public. What I hope to put before us today are some of those real-life stories. Bill said: 'When you get on your trawler and you go out to sea, the motion of the ocean and the diesel motors obviously create a lot of vibration. I have to have world's best refrigeration on my vessel. To do that there are copper pipes, and these copper pipes lead to gauges and to the refrigerants. One tiny leak would sometimes cost me a few hundred dollars. Today when that tiny leak comes it is costing me virtually my livelihood, thousands of dollars, and it is happening.' But he said, 'The sad part is I cannot get any guarantees from the refrigerant mechanics because it's not possible under the conditions I work. They fix it today and it's broken again tomorrow at a cost of thousands of dollars, not a few hundred—and thousands of dollars of profit means tens of thousands of dollars of product having to be caught.' So how do you deal with that? How do you turn up to a bank and say that you need an overdraft for these sorts of things. When he turns up and docks—as all the trawler operators do at the Maloolaba Bar Spit—you then have the wholesale operators, who have actually gone to the University of the Sunshine Coast and spoken to the power retailers, saying, 'Science has told us that we are now on the borderline of being better off financially if we put in a diesel generator on the pristine Maloolaba Spit.' Wow! Now there is an environmental impact from the Labor Party! Let us start putting fumes from a diesel generator onto the Maloolaba Spit because it is less expensive than plugging into the grid. This is how idiotic some of these policies are that we have heard from the other side. I would just like to hear any one of the opposition get up and tell me where these people are wrong. I would like them to go to the Maloolaba Spit and explain to the people there why they have got it so wrong as operators and trawler operators.

Or Maleny Dairies—and I spoke about them the other day. Here is an innovative family supporting eight other dairies, keeping the dairy industry alive in the hinterland the Sunshine Coast. They have had to go back to an old technology that was actually removed in refrigerants because it was unsafe rather than risk the cost that they would have to bear through leaks. IGA supermarkets tell the same story. Ros White from IGA had to pay $25,000 for the loss because of one leak, and they are trying to compete against Coles and Woolies. But do this mob opposite care? No, they talk in highfalutin terms which show no regard whatsoever for the people of Australia that employ and invest and are the backbone of our country—and whose stories deserve to be heard in this place.

There is also Michael who is the wholesale butcher from Upper Cuts Wholesale Meats. He is also a strawberry grower. How much more Australian can you get? I just challenge the shadow Treasurer when he comes up to campaign and doorknock about his will to keep the carbon tax in the seat of Griffith. Come up my way—you have my invitation. The previous member did invite the former Prime Minister up so I am sure that it is within my right to invite the shadow Treasurer up. Come and meet these people. Sit down and talk to them and hear firsthand. So there is the challenge and I invite you to do so and hear firsthand from the people who have had to wear the brunt of what you have put forward.

On 4 November, the Sunshine Coast Daily had a headline: 'Confidence sky high'. It said:

SUNSHINE Coast business and tourism leaders have credited the new Federal Government with a boost in business confidence across the region.

It later went on:

CCIQ Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay regional manager, Kimberly Lynch, said the Tony Abbott government had received strong backing from the business community because of key promises.

She called on the government to deliver on its pledges to cut company tax, repeal the carbon and mineral resources rent taxes and deliver key infrastructure such as the Bruce Highway upgrade.

We have already delivered on the start of the Bruce Highway with $80.7 million.

We have got two bills before this House right now and today the Labor Party is going to have to stand in this place and answer for the fact that it will not listen to the Australian people. One member after another has spoken about this—and the member for Paterson before me articulated exactly the same sorts of stories from his region around Port Stephens. So many other members of the coalition have done the same, but no-one on the opposite side in the Labor Party seems keen to listen. The confidence that is so necessary on the Sunshine Coast to rebuild our economy, to get young people into jobs, can falter today, and if it does not falter today because we have the numbers, when it goes to the other place in the Senate, unless the Greens and the Labor Party lay down their ideology and stand up for Australians and acknowledge that there is a democratic process which leads to elections that people fight elections on, and that the majority should be what this government and this parliament stand for, then we are going to be back at square one.

In closing, other matters that have been raised with me on this issue are around how we can be sure that if we are able to get this through the parliament that prices will come down. Other members of the coalition have spoken about this. This was something that confronted us when we introduced the GST in 2000 as the Howard government. We learnt from that and gave strong powers to the ACCC. Over $1 million in the form of penalties can be imposed on businesses and $220,000 on individuals. These are very substantial penalties should people try to transgress and profit by lying to the Australian public.

We have also started to deliver on the reduction in red tape. There are 1,000 pages of legislation here—1,000 pages of legislation are being repealed. The regulations that burden business will be removed—not all of them, but it is a damned good down payment. This range of bills before us today show the stark difference between Labor and the coalition. Labor will not listen to the Australian population. They sit in their ivory towers and look down upon the people of Australia who have said that enough is enough. The people have voted and supported Tony Abbott and the coalition's plan, and I call on the opposition today, as individuals, to stand up for the election, to repudiate their leadership and to support the public of Australia and the economy of Australia.