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Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Page: 1434

Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (16:41): As much as the government would have us believe otherwise, the carbon tax will have an impact on business—it absolutely will. While it will be a negative impact on most, for others it will absolutely devastate them. There was a time when, despite all the noise that they make, the government actually accepted that there would be impacts. They once accepted that fact. I could go back to the grand architect, when the Labor Party paid Professor Ross Garnaut to do a report for them, and this was the forerunner of it. He said in that report:

… imposing a carbon price in Australia ahead of similar carbon constraints in our trade competitors—

Mr Champion interjecting

Mr CHRISTENSEN: If you will be quiet mate you will learn something. He said that it could result:

… could result in some movement of emissions intensive, trade-exposed industries from Australia to other countries that impose less of a carbon constraint.

That is from the guy who came up with the policy for this government. But look, your Prime Minister actually admitted it—that is, your current one; she might not be that next week. She said, 'It has price impacts.' It is meant to have price impacts, that is the whole point. Remember that one—'price impacts'? There was a reason why she admitted that there would be impacts. The government had put out so much spin that the carbon tax would not hurt anyone that people were starting to ask the question: 'What is the point of it. Why are we having this thing if there is no impact?' You know, 'If you put a price on something, then people will use less of it'—another quote from the Prime Minister.

This Prime Minister, this Labor Party—this Labor-Greens alliance, I should say, and the motley crew of Independents—think that by increasing the cost of electricity that is going to solve everything. Let us go through some of the impacts on jobs and the impacts on businesses that this carbon tax will have. We have had a lot of talk about Alcoa and the government is desperate to say that there are going to be no impacts on Alcoa. It is a shame that the last member who spoke, who has aluminium in his electorate, is not here to listen to this. Alcoa has shelved a $3 billion expansion of a refinery in WA. An Alcoa spokesman said that the company would not return to the project until it understood the full impact of the $23 a tonne carbon tax. I quote further from Alan Cransberg of Alcoa, who said:

I don't think there's anybody in the world who's going to put billions of dollars into the ground without understanding what are the rules for an ETS or a carbon tax.

You want to look further at Alcoa's statements. Its director of government relations, Tim McAuliffe, spells it out for the government:

Smelters use an enormous amount of power and the way the carbon pricing mechanism is structured, it assumes you will get carbon pass-through effectively at one tonne of carbon for every megawatt hour. You can't get power in Victoria at that intensity.

I could go on to quote Deutsche Bank analyst Tim Jordan, who did an analysis of the Point Henry plant. He assumed that Point Henry operated at the average carbon intensity for Australian industry and he said the carbon price would add about $4 million to the smelter's costs in 2013. For all of the government's bleating and saying that they are going to help the workers at Alcoa and they are going to help the aluminium industry, they are not going to do anything of the sort. This was the plan all along. It is because of one thing: they are in bed with Bob Brown. Here was Bob Brown the other day saying:

… this is an industry which I don't think has been investing wisely and the market does come into play, as indeed it is doing with the logging industry in Tasmania at the moment.

This guy wants the aluminium industry shut down. The Greens have got a written agreement, a written alliance. He helped draft this carbon tax, the one that they have all signed up to.

Let us go on to other parts of the aluminium industry. The Chairman of Rusal Australia, John Hannagan, said:

Whatever anyone says about the carbon tax, it does have an impact. It does have a significant impact.

The system being put in place for the carbon tax is really based on, I think, a very flawed assumption that our competitors are going to have similar or more aggressive carbon or energy policies attached to them.

I could talk about Norsk Hydro with their plant at Kurri Kurri and reports that 2,000 of their jobs could disappear. That is in the member for Hunter's electorate, and he stood up here saying there would be no impact. The Chief Executive of the Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers, Richard Reilly, said that continuing government help would be needed. But then he went on to say, 'We are going to be impacted by a carbon tax and our competitors overseas won't.' It is a bit of a case of Julia giveth but the carbon tax taketh away.

There are jobs that are going to go in abattoirs around the region, and all of this was known from the start. I go back to what Professor Garnaut said:

… imposing a carbon price in Australia ahead of similar constraints in our trade competitors … could result in some movement of emissions-intensive, trade-exposed industries from Australia to other countries that impose less of a carbon constraint.

Let us have a look at what other countries are doing. The Labor and Greens government are proposing $23 a tonne. The member for Herbert wants to see comparable schemes. In New Zealand the spot permits under its emissions-trading scheme actually rose by two per cent in the last fortnight to about A$6.38 a tonne. In Europe they are hoping for help this year because the prices have slumped to record lows. Guess how much—to $8.45 a tonne. The government was spruiking that China is now on board with carbon taxing, but it is putting in $1.59 a tonne. That is $1.59 compared with $23 a tonne. You guys have got to be kidding. Ross Garnaut, the government's own advisor, said that Australian industries would be destroyed if there was not comparable carbon pricing around the world. The chickens are coming home to roost.

I could also talk about what small businesses are saying about this. Here is a document that over 70 chambers of commerce from Queensland have signed and sent to Julia Gillard on 21 June. It said:

A carbon tax will flow through the economy affecting the price of all goods and services and increasing costs for all businesses including those without a direct carbon price liability. Trade exposed and small and medium-sized businesses have limited liability to pass these costs onto their customers and as such are at even greater risk of reduced business competiveness and viability.

They begged the Prime Minister not to bring this in. I am particularly concerned, because Mackay is ground zero for the carbon tax. I have the mining industry in my electorate. I have the tourism industry in my electorate. I have agriculture, particularly sugar, in my electorate. All these industries will suffer under the carbon tax. Deloitte said that Mackay was going to be the hardest hit region in the hardest hit state.

The last speaker wanted to know what we were going to do. I will give the members opposite a tip, a titbit, a heads up. When the election is finally called the Leader of the Opposition is going to stand up and is going to say, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead,' and the Australian people will believe him because we will mean it. We will remove the carbon tax that you introduced, that the Australian people are going to have to pay, that small business is going to have to suffer and that people are going to lose their jobs over. I say: shame, shame, shame to the government for bending over to the Greens and forcing this tax on the Australian people.