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Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Page: 4138


Senator EDWARDS (South Australia) (15:26): I rise to also take note of the answers given by Senator Conroy to questions asked by Senators Cormann, Ryan, Williams and Ruston. I want to take the chamber back—and it is good to see a couple of TWU old fellows on the other side here to listen—

Government senators interjecting

Senator EDWARDS: Three of you, sorry, I apologise, Senator Furner.

Government senators interjecting

Senator EDWARDS: Senator Feeney, the soon-to-be member for Batman I think. Of course, it would have been far better if you were a woman, Senator Feeney; it would not have caused anywhere near the controversy. But I digress. Three years ago on Monday last was the changeover to the now Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. What time is it? Is she still the Prime Minister? It is half past three. I am not quite sure who is the Prime Minister.

Senator Furner: I rise on a point of order, Deputy President. It is the same point of order that Senator Brown took earlier. The questions that were put to the government in question time related to the carbon price. The question that related to leadership and other speculation was from Senator Abetz to Senator Conroy. I draw your attention to the fact that the senator over there is misleading the chamber with regard to taking note of answers.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you for the point of order. You are starting to debate it.

Senator Feeney: I rise on the same point of order, Deputy President. From the government's perspective this performance is so terrible that I have no desire to interrupt it.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: That is not a point of order, Senator Feeney. Senator Edwards, I draw your attention to the motion before the chair. You have not addressed the substance of the motion in your opening remarks. I am sure you are about to move there.

Senator EDWARDS: I am. In relation to the carbon tax questions, I am not quite sure where I can go back to, whether to Prime Minister Rudd's ETS proposal for which he was axed and brought down without an election or whether to Prime Minister Gillard's carbon tax that she introduced after going to the election saying, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead'. However, we have got a carbon tax. In actual fact it is the biggest carbon tax in the world by far. I point out that this week the price of carbon in Europe is around five euros, which is around $6.87 in our money. And you are proposing to put it up. I was very pleased to hear that the opposition climate spokesman, Greg Hunt, moved to suspend the standing orders to allow him to call on the government to scrap the increase which is proposed for 1 July, a five per cent increase on the biggest carbon tax in the world.

I really find it quite amusing when those on the other side, the Labor Party, talk about small business. They are the only government in this country that has taken big business to small business. I know because I still am involved in business. I do not know too many small businesses that use 10 megawatt hours a year. It must be somebody sitting at home with their computer on. It works out to a $260 increase. That is a lot of hot dinners. You can dumb it down. It is called reduction to the ridiculous: $5 a week, yes. Let us just reduce it. What is that a day? It is less than a dollar a day. It does not really matter, but, on top of all the other dollars a day that have gone on in the reign of this Rudd-Gillard government, there are just so many of them.

In answer to Senator Williams on fuel for heavy transport: 'Oh, it's only 29c.'

Senator Gallacher: 27.

Senator EDWARDS: He said 29c a tonne per hundred kilometres. I am quite happy for you to take it up with him, Senator Gallacher, if you think it is 27. But I will only apply it to my own experience: for 7,000 tonnes of grapes coming through a winery with an average trip of about 200 kilometres per trip, that is an increased impost on that business of $4,060 per annum. But let us just reduce it, dumb it down, to that argument where the punters out there will not have any idea as to what on earth you are talking about. Anybody that drives a truck—

Government senators interjecting

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! You continue, Senator Edwards. Order on my right!

Senator EDWARDS: Thank you. These trucks are going to be exempt, aren't they? For what? For two years. Okay, but it is coming at you like a tsunami. Where is Tony Sheldon on this one? Where is Tony Sheldon, your boss, on all these things? He is nowhere to be seen. It is—what do they call it?—a death tax. Road users get a carbon tax. How ridiculous. They are already paying an excise, and so are mums and dads, but you did not rule that out. Senator Conroy did not rule that out in his answers, did he? And look out for the farmers: you are coming after them as well.