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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9249


Ms BRODTMANN (Canberra) (12:16): I rise today to talk about the carbon price and, in particular, how it impacts on part of my electoral division—specifically, Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island is one of the most beautiful places in the Commonwealth of Australia. It is just a few miles wide and has a population of between 1,500 and 2,000 people, some of whom are registered to vote in the electorate of Canberra.

There have been some recent comments by the Liberal senator for the ACT, Gary Humphries, about the carbon price and its impact on Norfolk Islanders. As we have seen from the coalition time and time again, they have made a range of claims about the carbon price that are based on misinformation and a desire to perpetuate a scare campaign. In fact, just before we rose after the last parliamentary session, I had an exchange with the member opposite on this very issue. As I said to the member opposite at that time, the sky did not fall in on 1 July this year—and the Liberals are now claiming that the carbon price is somehow destroyed the economy of Norfolk Island. This is more scare-mongering based on misinformation and fear from the coalition.

Let me go to some of the specifics of the carbon price and address some of the furphies that Senator Humphries alleges. First, let me refute the myth that the carbon price is having a negative effect on the economy of Norfolk Island. The Administrator of Norfolk Island, Neil Pope, issued a media release on 9 August this year under the heading 'Carbon tax impact negligible'. This is what the Norfolk Island Administrator said about the carbon price:

The advice we have received would indicate that there is little to no impact on households on Norfolk Island. The major reported impact for mainlanders is the increase in electricity prices due to coal fired power stations, estimated to be approximately $9 for every $100 in electricity charges. As Norfolk Island's electricity is generated by a combination of solar and diesel, and the diesel does not come from Australia, there is no impact on electricity prices.

I should point out that the Administrator of Norfolk Island put the word 'no' in capital letters. Let me reiterate that there is no impact on electricity prices on Norfolk Island because of the carbon price. These are the facts. But the coalition is not interested in facts. Senator Humphries spouted more misinformation when he also told the Senate that the permanent population of Norfolk Island dropped between 2007 and January 2012 and this is somehow linked to the carbon price. According to this logic, some residents of Norfolk Island left five years ago because of a very small increase introduced in July this year—that is anticipating, I have to say!

Yes, tourism numbers on Norfolk Island have dropped, and I urge everyone who can visit this most magnificent, beautiful and unique part of Australia to do so. But the high Australian dollar is a factor in tourism numbers, and tourism across Australia is affected by our strong economy.

The next bit of misinformation being peddled by the Liberals is that the cost of living on Norfolk Island will rise dramatically under the government's carbon price package but not one cent in compensation will be paid to Norfolk Islanders. It may come as something of a surprise to the coalition, but Norfolk islanders do not come under the Australian tax system. It may come as a shock to Senator Humphries and members of the coalition that Labor's very generous and targeted compensation package is aimed at helping Australian taxpayers manage the very small price increases that will occur as we put a price on carbon pollution.

The carbon price will have a very small impact on the cost of living, and the government is providing households with assistance to meet this impact. Treasury estimates that the impact on the cost of living from the carbon price will be an increase of just 0.7 per cent in the CPI. That is less than 1c in the dollar. As I have repeatedly pointed out, the government is providing assistance to nine in 10 households, which on average is $10.10 per week.

Senator Humphries, like many in the coalition, seems a bit confused when it comes to policies aimed at tackling climate change. The scare campaign claiming that the carbon price is damaging Norfolk Island's economy is plain and simply wrong. The fact is that the Labor government is working to deliver a Norfolk Island road map. I am very proud to be part of this. We are working with the people of Norfolk Island to ensure their economic and social prosperity through a range of measures and access to services, access to benefits as outlined in the road map, provided by the Australian tax system and a fair contribution to the tax system in return for the benefits. I have travelled to Norfolk Island many times, I have spoken to the people— (Time expired)