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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 1011

Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (11:56): I rise to oppose the amendments and to speak in favour of these bills put forward to us by the newly incoming Abbott government—bills which received a clear mandate from the Australian people at the last election. That election result and the policies and approaches that were taken to the Australian people seem to be being denied in this place today.

It is not a matter of morality—of who has got the greatest morality or who believes they have the greatest morality. It is about the facts. To say that members in this House do not care about typhoons, bushfires, the worst that drought can provide to our communities or the impact that policies have on the least advantaged in our society is just wrong.

Such moral superiority should be condemned in this place, because we do care. That is why we want to make sure that those who face the greatest disadvantage will not be hit by a $550 extra cost to their living standards. It is why we want to get rid of a tax which impacts on businesses large and small, families, students and the elderly, and hurts them all equally.

What we on this side of the House do not want to see is a tax which reduces our international competitiveness, drives jobs offshore and hurts our society and communities. That is why we are opposed to this insidious tax—and insidious it is, because, if you look at my electorate, this tax impacts and hurts every town and every community across the 32,000 square kilometres of it. It hurts the largest employer in the town of Portland, Alcoa, which provides over 600 jobs. It hurts the dairy industry. It hurts a company like Murray-Goulburn, which has the largest processing plant in Australia, in my electorate. It hurts it significantly, because its carbon taxation bill is $14 million annually. And they have to compete on the global playing field. They have to compete against European dairy processors, who get free permits allocated at a rate of 92 per cent, yet they get nothing.

If you go to our abattoirs, they are at a disadvantage. If you go to the farmers, whether they be lamb producers, wheat producers or dairy farmers, they all suffer as a result of this tax, some to the extent that their incomes are hurt by between $7,000 and $10,000 per year.

The SPEAKER: It being 12 o'clock the debate is interrupted, and in accordance with the resolution passed earlier I call the honourable Minister for the Environment to sum up.