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Thursday, 13 March 2008
Page: 1761

Mr HUNT (3:15 PM) —My question is to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts. I refer the minister to the earlier question from the member for Parramatta and to the continued spiralling of the world oil price, which has now hit a record of over $110 a barrel. I also refer the minister for the environment to reports that motorists could face the prospect of petrol rising to more than $3 a litre as a result of the federal government’s measures in response to climate change. Will the minister finally admit that petrol prices will rise under his policy, and does the minister really understand the effect of the government’s climate change policies on petrol prices for Australian families?

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —Mr Speaker, I am—

Mr Hockey interjecting

Mr SWAN —You’ve not had a good week, Joe; you’ve had a very bad week, Joe—a very bad week, and so has Brendan and so has he.

Opposition member interjecting—

Mr SWAN —Too right you have.

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The question has been asked and a response is now going to be given.

Mr SWAN —There was a comprehensive answer given to that question by the Prime Minister at the beginning of question time, but I am happy to take it because this side of the House is extremely concerned about the cost of living and what we have to do—

Mr Dutton —He passes it to you and you pass it to him.

The SPEAKER —Order! The Treasurer will resume his seat. The member for Dickson will leave the chamber under standing order 94(a) for one hour.

The member for Dickson then left the chamber.

Mr SWAN —Those opposite were the ones who said working families had never been better off. That is what they said, and they said it at a time when inflationary pressures were unleashed on the Australian economy. We have seen today that they have no plans to tackle inflation, none whatsoever. The Liberal Party is the best friend inflation ever had, and we saw it from the member over there—the former Treasurer.

Dr Nelson —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. The question is about the impact of the government’s climate change policies on the price of petrol for Australian families.

The SPEAKER —The Treasurer will return to responding to the question.

Mr SWAN —I certainly will, Mr Speaker, because on this side of the House we are very concerned about cost-of-living pressures. That is why we have put a whole lot of reforms into the system to assist working families: the tax cuts from 1 July, our initiatives when it comes to child care—all of these things go to the very core of living standards of families.

Mr Morrison —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. The question was about petrol prices, and the Treasurer seems to be unable to even mention the words, let alone answer the question.

The SPEAKER —The Treasurer has the call.

Mr SWAN —I am more than happy to talk about petrol prices because we have put in place, through the ACCC, a petrol commissioner.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr SWAN —Too right we have. We have put it in. When those opposite were in power they did not see the need to do anything. If motorists were ripped off for an additional cent a litre, they did not care, and there was no cop on the beat to supervise the petrol companies at all. We have put that in place. We are extremely concerned with the cost of living, and we will do everything in our power to put downward pressure on inflation and downward pressure on interest rates and to look after the interests of working families.