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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 10075

Carbon Pricing

Mr CROOK (O'Connor) (14:31): Mr Speaker, my question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the government's decision to cut diesel fuel rebates for heavy on-road vehicles, despite this not being supported by the majority of their own climate change committee. I ask the Prime Minister: has the government modelled the effect that these changes will have on regional Australians who have no choice but to rely on heavy on-road trucks to transport their goods great distances? Will the government acknowledge that in my electorate of O'Connor families and businesses will be extremely disadvantaged by these changes, more so than their city counterparts? And does the government acknowledge that this effective carbon tax on heavy on-road vehicles contradicts their claims that their carbon tax is a tax on big polluters only?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:32): I thank the member for O'Connor for his question on carbon pricing. I do note that I did not receive a question on carbon pricing from the Leader of the Opposition yesterday.

On the member for O'Connor's question on carbon pricing: the government does intend to apply an effective carbon price to fuel use by heavy on-road transport from 1 July 2014. That is true, we intend to do that through fuel tax credits. We intend to do that because we want to ensure that there is competitive neutrality between the various ways that goods are moved around our country. Rail, domestic shipping and domestic aviation face an effective carbon price, so we believe that the alternative way of moving goods around should also face an effective carbon price.

It is true that there were a variety of views about that on the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee, but the government's view is that there should be such an arrangement and we are determined that such an arrangement would come into force on 1 July 2014.

The government estimates—and when I say the government here, I am talking about the experts who do modelling at Treasury, who advise this government and who have advised past governments—that the impact of heavy on-road coming into the scheme from 2014-15 is around 0.05 per cent. We have, as a prudent measure, taken that into account in designing the household assistance package. So although the household assistance package will, of course, come into effect prior to the introduction of that change for heavy vehicles, the 0.05 per cent has been taken into account.

That means that the member for O'Connor will see in his electorate pensioners, parents of children and income earners who earn less than $80,000 a year seeing more dollars in their pockets. There are tax cuts, there are pension rises and there are family benefits changes.

To give the member for O'Connor some statistics in relation to his own electorate, more than 13,000 families in O'Connor will receive household assistance through their family assistance payments and more than 20,000 pensioners in O'Connor will receive assistance—and will recall of course that we have modelled assistance for pensioners so they get more than they need to compensate for the average flow-through impact of carbon pricing. That is so that they can come out in front. In addition, the member for O'Connor will see 2,600 self-funded retirees in his electorate see more money, as will the 1,500 students, 4,200 jobseekers and 2,400 single parents. Then, of course, people who work in the electorate of O'Connor and who live there, whom the member represents in this parliament, will also see tax cuts.

The member for O'Connor is able to tell his constituents and community that, yes, there will be an impact on heavy on-road vehicles from 2014-15, but it has already been taken—

Mr Crook: Not in these bills.

Ms GILLARD: No, in the government's intentions. The government intentions are that—

Opposition members interjecting

Ms GILLARD: I thank friends in the parliament for assistance on clarity. This is a government-only measure, and the government are determined to pursue it. As a government-only measure it is our determination that it come into effect from 1 July 2014, but it has already been taken into account in the household assistance package.