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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9255


Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (12:41): I have known Greg Carroll all my life. He is a typical country bloke. He is a family man, he is a community minded person and he was an outstanding sportsman whose family name is synonymous with Australian football in my area. And Greg is a businessman—and a good one. He owns and operates the grain handling company M C Croker Pty Ltd, which has depots in Coolamon, Cootamundra, Griffith, Ladysmith and Marrar. Cootamundra and Marrar are manned full time while Coolamon, Griffith and Ladysmith are used mainly for storage and are manned when required.

Croker has the combined capacity to hold 55,000 tonnes of grain, oilseed and pulse and 5,000 tonnes of fertiliser, and offers services such as storage, handling, mixing, blending, pelletising, spreading, transport, export packing and testing. Greg is an honest straight shooter—no mincing his words. This morning he told me that the carbon tax would cost his business between $80,000 and $100,000 a year. That is straight off his profit, straight off his bottom line. This comes by way of a $6 per container slug by the shipping and stevedoring company he uses—and Croker moves 100 of those per week—as well as higher electricity charges, not all state based, and other on costs caused by this unnecessary, unmandated carbon tax.

Croker is a company that proudly claims to be 'small enough to care, big enough to deliver'. It has high turnover costs but operates in a volatile industry with small, hard-won margins. I put it to Greg, quite tongue in cheek, that this was improving the environment, but I will not lower the dignity of the parliament with the response he gave me—as I said, he is a straight shooter. He knows, as all of us do, that it is not going to do one thing to global temperatures, it is not going to do one thing to lower sea levels and, really, it is not going to do one thing for the environment. We all know that. It has been a little more than two years since the Prime Minister uttered those infamous words, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.' Yet here we stand today, debating the impact the introduction of the carbon tax has had on Australia—a carbon tax introduced by this Labor Prime Minister under the Labor government she leads.

The 1 July introduction of the carbon tax has been felt by every Australian as they have watched their costs of living increase. My electorate office receives daily phone calls from constituents concerned about the impact of the carbon tax and wanting to know why they receive no direct compensation—certainly no compensation with the Household Assistance Package that is going to offset the increases in their day-to-day living costs. Many constituents tell me they have used the estimator online only to discover that the only compensation they will receive is from tax breaks—tax breaks that, as I said, will not adequately compensate the direct hit on the hip pockets of those hardworking Australians whom those on that side purport to represent and have forgotten.

Many self-funded retirees find it hard to believe they will not receive any direct compensation because they are self-funded, yet retirees who do claim a pension will receive some meagre assistance. These are people who have worked hard to set themselves up for retirement and the government has completely ignored their set of circumstances and the impact the carbon tax will have on them. I recently conducted an electorate-wide survey in which I asked constituents if they supported the introduction of the carbon tax. What do you think they said? 'Absolutely not'—the overwhelming majority stated they do not support the carbon tax. There can be no clearer indication that Australians want the carbon tax and this Labor government gone.

Businesses are also feeling the heat from the carbon tax. I recently spoke with a local restaurateur who advised me his business is only just covering operating costs let alone turning a profit and he fears he will have to close his restaurant by the end of the year due to the direct impact the carbon tax will have on his bottom line. This is not an isolated case. Business owners right across Australia fear for their livelihoods as the carbon tax starts to force prices up and up across the board—price increases they will be forced to wear unless they pass them on to customers. But customers are wary of spending their money and are instead keeping it in their wallets as they do not know what hidden costs may be ahead.

This is a tax that the government sees as a magical cure to so-called climate change and exemplifies this government's commitment to the environment over the citizens of Australia. In my electorate I have the Wagga Wagga City Council, the Coolamon Shire Council and the Griffith City Council, who are all going to have to pay the carbon tax. These councils collectively represent fewer than 100,000 people yet are considered by this government to be among Australia's biggest polluters. How ridiculous!

The hit list also includes Riverina Beef at Yanco, Snowy Hydro and the Visy pulp and paper mill at Tumut. These businesses are all good employers. They are not big polluters; they are all good Australian businesses. They deserve respect and they do not deserve the carbon tax. (Time expired)