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Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Page: 8365


Mrs MIRABELLA (Indi) (15:51): The minister, the member for Charlton, gave us one of his least convincing performances. He has this tactic: if you want to have everyone switch off, if the potato is too hot to handle, speak in the most boring monotone voice to bore people into submission. We have a government that is not and should not be surprised that they are not believed. It all goes back to an issue of trust. She stole an election result on the explicit promise, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead', knowing full well that she did not intend to fulfil that promise. They go to an election campaign saying that they will not introduce a carbon tax. They belittle and ridicule the Leader of the Opposition—who said that there would be a carbon tax. Then they win government and give in to the Greens, not in order to save the planet but to save Ms Gillard's job. She is called the great negotiator. What a fool! She should have known there was no way in hell that the Greens would have supported the Liberals over the Labor Party. There was no way they were going to support Tony Abbott. She gave the Greens the carbon tax. She decided, using her great negotiating skills, that the Greens would run away to the Liberal Party. What a fool! What an idiot! What a liar, as she is called by so many people in the community.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. Peter Slipper ): Order! The member for Indi will resume her seat. I require the member for Indi to withdraw the term 'liar' and other derogatory terms referring to the Prime Minister, and while I am at it I would ask the member for Indi to refer to other members in accordance with standing order 64, not by their name. I call the honourable member for Indi.

Mrs MIRABELLA: I withdraw, Mr Deputy Speaker, and fully respect the standing orders that prevent me as a member in this House from repeating the comments made out there in the community from one end of the country to the other, particularly from many former Labor voters. But when a Prime Minister goes to an election making such an explicit comment, then reneges on it and decides to sell out to Bob Brown and decides to speak to Bob Brown before her own backbenchers, is it any surprise that people do not believe the scant explanation and promises given on the carbon tax and the so-called compensation package? People do not believe that the CPI will increase by only 0.7 per cent—and why should they? None of the government's budget estimates or mid-year updates have been accurate in any way whatsoever. Why would the situation change now?

We have seen costs go up and up and up. The carbon tax will go up but compensation will not go up. The minister talks about modest price increases, but people are already hurting. They know that they cannot trust the government's modelling; it has not been fully explained and there are many factors that have not been included. For example, where is the modelling to show the number of SMEs that will close? We know that the SME sector is very important in Australia. We know that it has the least capacity to absorb increased costs of production. We all know that, when small businesses close and larger businesses increase their market power, prices also go up. That has not been factored into the government's projections either.

The government says there will be all this compensation, but what is the reality? Everyone knows that a carbon tax is intended to hurt every time you use electricity and every time you use energy. Even on the government's own figures, even if we were trusting and naive enough to believe the figures that it has provided, we see that a couple earning $60,000 each with two children would be worse off. A couple earning $60,000 with no children would be worse off. A single person earning $60,000 would be worse off. This is intended to punish consumers because that is what the Greens want. The Greens want to punish consumers. They think we probably live too affluent a lifestyle, we use too much and we consume too much; so let us just punish people—punish people into submission! If you look at average wages in professions such as teachers, ambulance drivers, accountants, crane operators, manufacturers, park rangers and physiotherapists, all of these people will be worse off.

We hear about compensation to industry, but if you do not damage industry you do not need to pretend to compensate it. As Graham Kraehe from BlueScope said, any compensation would be like a bandaid over a bullet wound.

Mr Bradbury: When did he say that?

Mrs MIRABELLA: He said that at the National Press Club. You should have been there, my friend. You should go to your electorate of Lindsay and speak to those people who are saying to us: 'Our member is letting us down. Our member does not understand how hard we are doing it. Our member does not understand how difficult it is to make ends meet. And now, instead of listening to mainstream Australia and Lindsay, our member supports the Prime Minister in sucking up to Bob Brown so she can keep her job.' You are a disgrace and you should hang your head in shame.

When we look at the steel industry, a very important industry, and those important workers across the country, particularly in Port Kembla, we hear the government proudly say that it is providing additional assistance to the industry. It is supposed to be $300 million in assistance, but guess what? For our two main steel companies, BlueScope and OneSteel, the total value lost on the first day that the carbon tax was announced was almost the equivalent of the package. On the second day the value that these companies lost was over $100 million. So your so-called compensation is inadequate to even make up for the loss in corporate value of our two main steelmakers. So much for compensation!

This government is all about churn: punish people, bring in a program, tax it, borrow it, hand it around, move it around—a bit of trickery and a bit of deception. No wonder there is no trust in what is said. This government has not explained to the Australian people that Australian industry and Australian manufacturers are some of the most efficient in the world. Our steel producers are the most efficient in the world. They create fewer emissions and have a more efficient production process than exists in China. The government has not explained that to the Australian people. It has not said to the steelworkers: 'You do a great job. You are part of an efficient and effective industry.' 'No', it has said: 'You are big, bad polluters. You naughty people! You make steel—the steel we need for our cars, the steel we need for our houses—you big, bad, naughty people! We would prefer to make the steel you make more expensive, to drive manufacturing offshore to countries that will create more emissions to make the same things we used to make'. So we are closing down industry and closing down jobs to—guess what?—increase worldwide emissions because our manufacturing will go to places like China, where they create more emissions making the same stuff that we used to make.

You have not explained any of those facts, not to your constituents and not to the Australian people. You have not actually stood up and been proud of Australian manufacturing. In industries like cement, chemicals and plastics; in the steel industry, in the car industry and the car components industry; in food and grocery processing; and in aluminium and glass making, a carbon tax is going to punish these industries and give a leg-up to imports with which they compete.

So we will be sending our manufacturing offshore to increase emissions. Many Australian businesses already operate on wafer-thin margins. Does the government listen? No. When the Prime Minister was asked, 'What do you say to manufacturing?', she giggled, 'Ha, ha, ha. They will do what they've always done. They'll innovate; they'll get on with it'. Well, Prime Minister, manufacturing businesses are facing a pretty tough time and your carbon tax will send many of them to the wall and will send many of them offshore.

What will it do to households? It will hurt them even more because of the lie you spread during the last election and the lies you continue to spread now.

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. Peter Slipper ): Order! I ask the member for Indi to withdraw the word 'lie'.

Mrs MIRABELLA: Causing such great consternation to the member for Isaacs. The member for Isaacs should calm down. I know the manufacturers in his electorate are very upset—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member for Indi will remove herself from the chamber for one hour.

Mr Dreyfus: Good riddance!

Opposition members interjecting

Mrs MIRABELLA: I may have called the Prime Minister a liar but he should withdraw that!

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The first thing I require is for the member for Indi to actually withdraw the term 'lie'.

Mrs MIRABELLA: I withdraw the term 'liar', and say to the Australian people that free speech still exists out there.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: She will withdraw unconditionally.

Mrs MIRABELLA: I withdraw.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member has referred to a comment allegedly made by the Parliamentary Secretary. I did not hear that. Would the Parliamentary Secretary assist the House by withdrawing?

Mr Dreyfus: I withdraw.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: He has withdrawn.

Opposition members interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: And the member for Indi has been asked to remove herself from the House for one hour.

Mrs MIRABELLA: You have saved me from a berating.

The member for Indi then left the chamber.