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Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Page: 3423

Mr ABBOTT (2:04 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister that electricity prices have risen by 42 per cent since this government took office and I refer the Prime Minister to analysis today from the Energy Supply Association of Australia showing that the government’s mining tax will drive up electricity prices even further. I ask the Prime Minister: how can struggling Australian families trust her to get anything right when her policies will drive up their cost of living?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question. He refers to the minerals resource rent tax. The government is determined to deliver this tax because the Australian economy is in a phase of development where we are seeing huge growth in our resources sector, mining and profiting from assets that, by definition, can be exploited only once. While we are in that stage of this country’s development, it makes absolute sense for Australians to share in the wealth that is generated and for our taxation and national savings settings to be ones that benefit the rest of the economy and help balance growth for the long term. That is why the proceeds of the minerals resource rent tax will be used to cut company taxation generally, to particularly lift the tax burdens off small businesses, to grow our pool of national savings through superannuation, to provide a better retirement income for Australians in their old age and to have a better pool of national savings for our economy to draw on and, of course, to invest in infrastructure.

Mr Pyne —Higher taxes; the Labor way.

Ms GILLARD —The member for Sturt is helpfully chanting about higher taxes being the Labor way. Perhaps he should get out a book of economic statistics and remind himself that he was a member of the highest taxing, highest spending government in Australia’s history. When he feels ready to come to the dispatch box and apologise for that, we will be all ears. When we had the highest taxing, highest spending government in the nation’s history, what we were doing was drifting through a phase of Australia’s economic expansion, putting the proceeds of that economic expansion into recurrent expenditure, instead of doing the things that were necessary to drive long-term prosperity. We are determined not to make that mistake again, which is why with the minerals resource rent tax we will have a taxation system that enables Australians to better share in the proceeds that come from the mineral wealth in our ground and better balance economic activity.

On the question of electricity prices, I say again to the Leader of the Opposition: he may be content to just sit with his fear campaigns and he may be content to see the next decade being another decade of underinvestment in electricity with all of the consequences for price and undersupply that would have for Australians, but the government is not content to see Australians face that burden. That is why we are dealing with questions of energy security and energy supply in the context of pricing carbon and beyond.

Can I say to the member who asked the question: we know that he is long on complaint and short on solution. We are still waiting for him to deliver a policy that counts; and, yet again, here we are as the parliament works its way through the final week and the three-word slogans, the fear campaigns, the negativity and the wrecking continue day after day, after day.