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Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Page: 11501

Mr MATHESON (Macarthur) (21:38): I rise today to support the opposition leader's amendment for the carbon tax to be deferred until after an election. I am compelled to speak on this issue because I believe that the people of Macarthur deserve a chance to have their say when it comes to the biggest tax change in Australia's history. This government has no mandate to introduce this carbon tax legislation. Before the last election the Prime Minister said there would be no carbon tax under a government she leads. The Treasurer said, 'We have made our position very clear; we have ruled it out.' And the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency said, 'We know that you can't have any environmental certainty with a carbon tax.' Surely these comments will come back to haunt them some time. These comments are proof that the people of Australia were led to believe that there would be no carbon tax under this government.

The people of Macarthur were misled and they deserve the chance to have their opinion heard. The people should have their say with regard to this tax. On the government's own website, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade states:

Under responsible government, the executive is accountable to the parliament and the parliament to the people.

This is not occurring at the present time. This Greens-Labor alliance treats the people of Australia with contempt. We are all accountable to the people of this country and the people we represent in our electorates. We must not mislead them into trusting false claims and promises; instead, we should listen to them and ensure that their opinions are heard, especially when we are talking about the biggest tax change in our country's history.

It is no secret that Australians will start paying $105 billion in tax between now and 2020 under a Labor and Greens carbon tax—a trillion dollars over coming decades. This will have a significant impact on the Australian economy, driving up electricity prices by 10 per cent and putting thousands of jobs at risk. Residents in my electorate are already doing it tough. Some are struggling to pay their bills and others require vouchers to pay for electricity and food. How can anyone support a tax which will mean higher electricity bills, increased grocery prices and job losses with no environmental gain? Tell that to the people of Macarthur.

This tax will impact on our entire community. The average punter can tell you that now is the worst possible time to introduce a new tax that will drive down Australia's economy, especially while international economic conditions are so uncertain. If the government's legislation is passed, Australians will pay an extra $9 billion a year in tax, but Australia's emissions will increase from 578 million tonnes to 628 million tonnes by 2020. On top of the tax itself an extra $3.5 billion will have to be spent on purchasing foreign carbon credits each year by 2020.

It is not just the struggling families of my electorate who will suffer as a result of this tax. I have spoken to many small business owners who will be forced to cut jobs or close down as a result of this tax. The TRN group, Nepean Engineering, Stockade Pies, Sambello Menswear, Sport Spirit and many more businesses in my electorate have raised real concerns about the impact of this tax. A lot of blood, sweat and tears have gone into these businesses and they do not deserve to suffer as a result of a tax that will not do anything for the environment.

Last week I attended a carbon tax debate in Liverpool, as did the members for Hughes and Werriwa. At least 80 per cent of the crowd was against the carbon tax and very vocal with regard to the effect it will have on their families. It was clear that these people resent the fact that they did not have the opportunity to vote on this tax during the last election. They, like all Australians, have the right to voice their opinion on this tax, which is why it should be deferred until after an election.

Today I would like to quote the government's own climate guru, Tim Flannery. He states: 'If we cut emissions today, global temperatures are not likely to drop for about a thousand years'—one thousand years. According to Labor's own figures the carbon tax will not clean up Australia's environment. In a recent World Health Organisation study of urban air quality in 1,100 cities and towns around the globe Australia came third behind Estonia and Mauritius. So, we are actually doing a good job in fighting pollution in our cities right now, especially when compared to other developed countries—and we have achieved this without a carbon tax. Third in the world for clean air!

I would be interested to see how many constituents have contacted their local Labor MPs to voice their opinion against this carbon tax. Our role is to represent the people of Australia in this parliament and we should all aim to keep faith with the people who live in our electorates. There must be many Labor MPs opposite who will not be able to look at themselves in the mirror tonight after passing this carbon tax today. This carbon tax is based on a lie and it is a broken promise made to a nation that genuinely wants to improve the environment but not at the cost of our jobs, our livelihoods or our children's futures.

I support the amendment to defer this tax until after the election for many reasons—mostly because the people of Macarthur do not want it and many cannot afford it but also because this will be the biggest tax change in Australia's history which will have no positive impact on our environment and Australians should have the right to vote for a government who will not mislead them into thinking otherwise.