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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3253

Carbon Pricing


Mr TRUSS ( Wide Bay Leader of The Nationals ) ( 14:26 ): My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister that the chairman of the world's largest aluminium producer has stated that, 'Queensland Alumina will be the highest taxed industry in the country and that is a significant impact on our operations.' When will the Prime Minister admit that the carbon tax would shut down Queensland Alumina in places like Gladstone, as the government's own modelling confirms?


Ms GILLARD ( Lalor Prime Minister ) ( 14:27 ): In answer to the question I say: (1) the question contains words which would mislead the Australian people, so I am not accepting the premise of the question; and (2) when it comes to businesses around the nation, including businesses in Queensland, the government is determined to give them a tax reduction. What is standing in the way of that tax reduction is the conduct of the opposition. So, if the Leader of the National Party is genuinely concerned about this business and its future, it is very hard to explain why he is opposed to a tax reduction being given to that business. It is very hard to explain that, indeed.

But when it comes to the opposition, there is no plan—

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Prime Minister was asked a question about the carbon tax and she has made no attempt at all to answer that question.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister has just commenced her answer. I am sure she will direct it to the specifics.

Ms GILLARD: I was asked about a particular business and I am talking about measures that would assist that particular business. As we all know, as a result of world conditions and the high Australian dollar there is pressure on Australia's manufacturing industry and particularly there is pressure at this time on aluminium. We have always been very conscious that a sustained, strong Australian dollar would bring these pressures to bear on parts of our economy, like manufacturing. That is why out of the proceeds of the minerals resource rent tax we are determined to cut the tax burden on businesses like this one. It is an appropriate way to spread the benefits of the resources boom. We take a very different view on this from the opposition. We stand for a fair share of the benefits of the boom going around the nation. They stand for a privileged few. On dealing with climate change and reducing carbon pollution, we stand for doing that in the cheapest way possible. The opposition, of course, stand for a carbon plan which would impose additional costs on businesses whilst at the same time imposing additional costs on Australian families and taking away from those families the tax cuts, family payments and pension increases we intend to provide.

To the opposition generally, who I understand today, tomorrow and the next day will continue to ask questions about this matter, I would ask the following: first and foremost, how do you explain the Howard government's commitment for an emissions trading scheme; and, No. 2, how do you marry these professions of concern about these businesses with your plan to block these businesses from getting a tax cut?





Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:30): Mr Speaker, on a supplementary—

An opposition member: Pick Warren!

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: I remind those opposite that it is not necessary for the supplementary question to be asked by the member who asked the original question.

Mr ABBOTT: I ask a supplementary question of the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister confirm that the quantum of the carbon tax hike is five times the quantum of the corporate tax cut?

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The honourable Prime Minister is given the call and she will be heard in complete silence.





Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:31): What I can confirm is that the direct price of carbon pricing will be paid by around—

Mr Hartsuyker interjecting

The SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cowper will remove himself from the chamber under the provisions of standing order 94(a). I said from the moment I called the Prime Minister for this answer to a supplementary question that she will be heard in silence.

The member for Cowper then left the chamber.

Ms GILLARD: What I can confirm is that the direct carbon price will be paid by around 500 businesses. What I can also confirm is that more than 3,000 businesses would pay the extra tax impost that the Leader of the Opposition has designed for them, because of his paid parental leave scheme, which is designed to give the maximum benefits to the upper end. What I can confirm is that, for a bigger business, tax rates under Labor would be at 29 cents in the dollar. What they would be under the Leader of the Opposition is 31½ cents in the dollar. What I can therefore confirm is that business would be worse off under the Leader of the Opposition's plans.

Mr Abbott: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. By no stretch of the imagination is the Prime Minister being directly relevant to the question. The carbon tax hits businesses for six, and it will hit Queensland businesses for six.

The SPEAKER: I am listening to the point of order. Has the Leader of the Opposition finished?

Mr Abbott: I am just making the point that the carbon tax will hit Queensland businesses for six, and the Prime Minister's answer should address that point.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will now resume his seat. He is debating the issue. I call on the Prime Minister to conclude in the 21 seconds remaining.

Ms GILLARD: What we have just seen is a continuation of the hysterical fear campaigning of the Leader of the Opposition. What would hit businesses for six is his plan to increase company tax. What would hit businesses for six is his absurd carbon plan. (Time expired)