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Monday, 20 June 2011
Page: 3279

Senator BOSWELL (Queensland) (15:58): I don't mind people coming in here and making some strong points, some solid points—even vigorous points—but what I object to is people coming in here and telling blatant lies. That speech was a series of blatant mistruths.

Senator Arbib: I ask that Senator Boswell withdraw that imputation.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Boswell, I think you should withdraw that because the implication is that the speaker was lying. I think you should withdraw.

Senator BOSWELL: I withdraw. However you like to dress it up, the Prime Minister said, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.' Four days later she repeated it. You cannot get any other interpretation from that. It is so straightforward that it does not lend itself to any interpretation other than that there will be no carbon tax. Then we are going to have 150 of the best and brightest turn up to a citizens assembly to make the decision. That was laughed out of court. Who was going to be in the 150?

There was a very strong story going around—it was not a rumour; it was a story—and it was actually told by Kevin Rudd. Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan told him to drop this carbon tax like a hot cake. What did he do? He listened to their and advice and dropped it like a hot cake, only to be garrotted, emasculated by the fact that he dropped the carbon tax when he was told to by the now Prime Minister and the now Deputy Prime Minister. No wonder he is bitter and twisted. No wonder he is hurt. No wonder the people of Queensland think that he was done over—and he was. He did exactly what he was told to do and then got garrotted for it.

The government told the people there would be no carbon tax. I actually believe that that is what they meant until the Greens told them: 'Hang on, if you want our support you will have a carbon tax whether you like it or not, whether 72 per cent of the people like it or not. Seventy-two per cent don't like it, 28 per cent do, but that doesn't matter. We're the Greens and we're telling you what to do. All we want is 10 per cent of that vote.' You are bleeding to the Greens to the left and you are bleeding to the blue-collar workers to the right. You waffle on and you cannot make a decision. I have been down this track myself with Pauline Hanson and there is one way to do it: you go in and say, 'We are the government and we will try and assist you when you don't hurt our followers.'

When you do that you will be the Labor Party that stands up for something, but until you do that your vote will just be whittled away, as it is now. Twenty-seven per cent. Has anyone seen the Labor vote down at 27 per cent? It has never gone down that far, never been there, ever. And of course it will go there. People know who runs this government: it is Bob Brown. If you are for the Bob Brown line of thought you vote Green. If you are against the Bob Brown line of thought you vote for the coalition. That is why your vote is being whittled away and whittled away. Do you want to do something about it? I believe Tony Abbott gave you a way out today.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Hutchins ): Senator Boswell, you need to refer to senators and members by their proper titles.

Senator BOSWELL: The Leader of the Opposition is giving you a way out. He is going to introduce a bill tomorrow for a plebiscite asking: are you in favour of laws to impose a carbon tax? This is the greatest opportunity you have. You can get out of this by supporting that bill. You can say: 'Well, 72 per cent of the people voted against it; we can't defy them. The people are always right.' I will give you a bit of advice: take this and run. Take this offer of Tony Abbott's and say: 'We support it. We want to go to a plebiscite.' And when the result is, as it will be, 72 per cent of people, or around that number, saying they do not want a carbon tax and 24 per cent saying they do, you can come to the parliament and say: 'We cannot do this. It is clearly not in the people's interest. They have expressed their wish for no carbon tax.'

But no, you are not going to do that. You will go full steam ahead and defy 72 per cent of the people. You are going to get the result when the next election comes around. You are thinking: 'We'll put this in and rush it through. We'll give people a bit of compensation and they're so stupid they'll forget it.' You are completely underĀ­estimating the intelligence of the Australian people. If you think they will take this, you are so naive that you just do not understand what it is all about.

The unions are erupting. Paul Howes, before he was kneecapped, said, 'If one job goes, that's it, we're out.' I can assure Paul Howes that many more jobs than one will go. Now we have Tony Maher of the CFMEU starting to say we will need more compensation, more assistance for the mining industry. That is shorthand for saying, 'Get out of this.' Senator Cameron is the most inconsistent. He says, 'We've got to have a carbon tax, we want a carbon tax and, by the way, let's bring some tariffs in to protect jobs.' On one hand, a carbon tax will kill jobs, but Senator Cameron says, 'Let's have some tariffs so we'll balance it up a bit.'

If you cannot believe me, why don't you believe Paul Howes? Why don't you believe Tony Maher. Why don't you believe the unions? Because they are telling you in no uncertain terms. They are on the floor, hearing it from the workers, the people who work at BlueScope and OneSteel, the 20,000 people who are employed by the steel industry. They only have to add another $8 a tonne on 7.5 million tonnes of steel and that will put the bottom line up $60 million, a loss for those two companies. They have already lost $55 million in the last six months and now you want to inflict on them another cost of $60 million. How do you expect these people to pay decent wages when they are making a loss? How do you expect them to retain their workers when they are making a loss? Every day the CEOs of BlueScope and OneSteel are wondering how to keep the industry going. They think, 'We're already losing money, and the government is just hitting us again and again and again.' I am a bit different from a lot of people here—I made my living as a salesman. I was a manufacturer's agent and I sold things, and I was pretty successful at it. I want to tell the Labor Party one thing: never try and sell a shoddy product. A product has got to give value, it has got to give a price advantage and it has got to give someone who buys it an advantage. This carbon tax falls down on all three fronts. It is going to put the worker at a disadvantage. It is going to put business at a disadvantage. It is going to put the battler at a disadvantage. And they know it. If you try and sell a product that is shonky and then try to back it up with $12 million worth of advertising—we had a word for that in the trade. Something that was very bad to sell we called a 'dog'—and this thing is barking. A carbon tax is just barking, that's how bad it is!

If you want to go and sell this carbon tax, let's go and tell the farmers and tell the battlers and tell industry they are better off. But when you have convinced them of that—and you will not—let's go to the people in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines and tell them: 'We want to inflict a higher cost on your food, on your electricity, on your transport, on your accommodation. We want you to suffer. We want you never to be able to get out of Third-World-country status—we just want you to stay there and suffer.' Do you think they're going to do that?

A carbon tax will only work if you get the rest of the world to come on side. In China in 2020 the carbon tax will have risen by 496 per cent; in India, by 350 per cent. What is the point of inflicting this on us when you know that there is no other country in the world, other than in the EU, that has brought in a carbon tax? And even a carbon tax in the EU collects $5 billion compared with ours collecting $11 billion in one year. (Time expired)