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Monday, 22 August 2011
Page: 8775

Carbon Pricing

Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (15:23): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the outcome of the reality TV show The Block last night, in which three out of the four homes failed to reach the reserve during the auction and were passed in. I further refer her to the fact that a building company in Griffith, which sold 62 house and land packages in the year leading up to October last year, has not sold a single one since. Given plummeting confidence in the housing market and building industry, is now really the time to be introducing a carbon tax which will add at least $5,000 to the cost of a new house?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (15:24): I thank the member for his question. I am not sure whether anybody has been holding up their number 10 sign, but I think that should have got a 10 for the most creative question of the day.

I am afraid that I could not watch the television show that he refers to last night. I am sure I would have enjoyed it, but I did not have an opportunity to watch it. What I can say to him about construction costs is what I said to the earlier member: actually, there are some very inflated estimates floating around about impacts on construction costs because the things that are predominantly used in construction are the things with the maximum assistance rate.

What I would say to him about confidence questions is that, yes, there are a series of things that are impacting on consumer confidence. We have had the opportunity today to talk in question time about the patchwork pressures on our economy. I think that that is showing on consumer confidence. I think the overhang from the global financial crisis is showing. People are alive to risks around the world, and their TV screens over the last few weeks have presented to them images of risk from the US, with the political gridlock around fiscal consolidation, and then, of course, from Europe with some of its sovereign debt problems.

I believe, too, that there has been an impact on consumer confidence as people have seen an outworking of the global financial crisis with reductions in their superannuation earnings. Some people have become concerned about their house prices; not necessarily that they have gone backwards but that the rate of growth that they would have liked to have seen in their house price is not going to be as strong as they would initially have envisaged.

There are a lot of pressures on people, but I would say to the member that I hope he is out in his local community explaining to people that the fundamentals of our economy are strong. I hope he takes the opportunity, too, when he is in party room meetings with the Leader of the Opposition, to explain that it is not in the interests of his constituents for the Leader of the Opposition to misrepresent the impacts of carbon pricing day after day and to talk the Australian economy down.