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Thursday, 18 August 2011
Page: 8588


Mr BILLSON (Dunkley) (13:56): Just a few short weeks ago the COSBOA annual summit was held. There were some magnificent presentations. Probably the pinnacle was Malcolm Farr from News.com. He provided a very eloquent contribution to that summit, but what will stick in people's minds is what the Treasurer had to say. In his address he told the gathered audience that the carbon tax would be great news for retailers. He argued that there would be so much surplus of compensation for so many Australian households that people would be rushing down to their local retail stores and benefiting from this carbon tax inspired bonanza. If that were not bad enough, he then went on to say—and I will do my best Wayne Swan imitation here:

But I tell you this very sincerely—some of the best, most grounded information I get about conditions in our economy comes from our small businesses.

I do not know who he is talking to. I do not know which small business he is talking to. This is warped logic. A carbon tax has undermined consumer confidence. Survey after survey identifies it will undermine small business viability. There is a sales strike going on. Some 83 per cent of those surveyed by the Australian Retailers Association believe consumers will spend less and 85 per cent of those surveyed by the ARA believe the carbon tax will have a negative impact on their business profitability and a third of them will be forced to shed staff. If this government wants to improve consumer confidence and give a boost to small business that is long overdue, axe the tax, Wayne Swan.