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Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Page: 6840


Mr ANDREWS (Menzies) (10:38): These are—

Mr Martin Ferguson: Talk about flat-footed.

Mr ANDREWS: I was just interested in the interjections by the Minister for Resources and Energy. I am always interested in anything that the minister, who is across the table, says.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr KJ Thomson ): The member should not be interested in interjections.

Mr Martin Ferguson interjecting

Mr ANDREWS: He always makes a lot of sense. I am always all ears to what he has to say about a variety of subjects, not only this one. His views on things are not always in accordance with what his own government sometimes seems to be projecting about issues like the carbon tax. So I am listening to any interjections that he might have to put forward on this.

Mr Martin Ferguson: I did not know a carbon tax came into family assistance.

Mr ANDREWS: It does, in a very significant way. I must respond to that interjection from the minister when he says that he did not know that a carbon tax came into matters affecting families. The reality is that if the government is successful in introducing its carbon tax this will be yet another major hit on families in Australia. As I said in my comments in the second reading debate, Australians are already facing a 51 per cent increase in their electricity bills, a 13 per cent increase in their food bills and a 24 per cent increase in their education expenses. The people here in the gallery and those listening to and watching this broadcast are no doubt concerned about the cost of living for ordinary Australian families. That is important in the context of the Family Assistance and Other Legislation Amendment Bill because this will hit some 2.1 million Australian families. What we effectively have is a freeze in the indexation of their family tax benefit parts A and B—their supplement to those benefits. A three-year freeze in those benefits means that in real dollar values they are losing money as a consequence of this precise piece of legislation that we are debating at the present time.

What the minister raised by way of interjection is pertinent to this legislation. It is pertinent to the matters which are before the House at the present time. One thing that Australian families do not need right now is any further increase in their cost of living. If their cost of living is further adversely impacted as a result of this legislation, that is going to be a further cost on top of the 51 per cent increase in electricity prices we have seen in Australia, a further cost over and above the increase in rents we have seen right across this country and a further cost on top of the increase in education expenses, food expenses and transport expenses. All of these things for ordinary Australian families are going up month by month and we have seen that occur since the government was elected in 2007.

Here we have another direct slug on Australian families as a consequence of the freeze in indexation. That means that, because of inflationary pressures, which are already in the economy, the real cost to Australian families is going to be significant. It is significant that they will not get hundreds of dollars because of this freeze which is being imposed by this government in this legislation. So the interjection by the Minister for Resources and Energy, who is at the table, is important.

Mr Martin Ferguson: Speak to the bill.

Mr ANDREWS: I am speaking to the bill. This is a slug on Australian families, and he probably more than anybody on the other side of this chamber understands that the resource costs are going to be significant in not only what has been occurring over the last few years but also, if we get a carbon tax, the enormous additional cost for Australians. That is why we raised these concerns in the second reading debate. That is why I am raising these concerns again on these matters which are before the House.

Question negatived.