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Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Page: 7845

Senator MASON (Queensland) (15:16): I suppose some might think it is a time for a celebration. It is 100 days since the introduction of the carbon tax. If I had thought about it, Senator Cameron, I may have baked a cake, but I cannot afford to anymore because it costs too much to bake. On a serious note, Senator Payne is quite right, particularly with respect to small business and the discount rates they get on electricity. It is costing up to 30 per cent more for small business throughout this country. That is a problem—it is affecting not only pensioners and working families but also small business.

I have somewhat of a penchant, some call it a fetish, for old government documents. I went through what I received at my home in Brisbane—a document called 'What a carbon price means for you'—one of my favourite documents. It says this:

A carbon price is not a tax on households—it will be paid by Australia's biggest polluters.

Yes, you will not pay, just the big polluters will pay. Let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen: you will pay. Australia will pay. Business will pay. You will all pay. But, according to this document, it is okay because:

Countries are already taking action on climate change. In addition, 89 countries—representing 80 per cent of global emissions and 90 per cent of the world’s economy—have already pledged—

If you believe politicians' pledges—

to take action on climate change.

What are the comparable countries? What have they done? What has Brazil done? Russia? India? China? The United States? Canada? What have they done?

Senator Thorp: Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order around occupational health and safety. I am getting a headache.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Mason, I draw your attention to the fact that you are on microphone and ask you to consider the auditory level of your contribution.

Senator MASON: I was in quiet mode! However, I will do my best. Suffice to say that none of the comparable countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China, Canada and the United States—are doing virtually nothing at all. China was mentioned—let me get to that in a minute. I am told, after today's performance from Senator Ludwig, that the government stands behind the $29 per tonne prediction. Today, the price in Europe is $8 a tonne. So it has got to rise 350 per cent in the next three years otherwise the government's budget predictions are out and there is no way they can fulfil their budgetary forecasts or return to surplus. It has got to go up 350 per cent over the next three years so they can balance their budget. Who thinks the European carbon price will go up 3½ times in three years? Who believes that, except Senator Thorp? No-one on earth believes that. If it does not happen—and it will not—this lot opposite will never, ever be able to balance their budgets. That is the problem. That is the farce of this entire scheme. From the word go, this has been an absolute fiasco.

We have got a Prime Minster and a government that believe unilateral action by the Australian government ahead of the world is good public policy. They believe even if the United States, Britain, Russia, India, China and Canada do nothing, it is in our national interest to adopt a carbon price. Why are those countries not adopting a carbon price? Because it will harm their economies. It is already harming ours. The cost of living in this country is going up. The cost for business is going up. If that is not bad enough, it is making no impact at all on the climate—none. Is it having any impact on carbon emissions in Australia? No. They are still going up, even if somewhat more slowly. It is having no impact on the carbon emissions and no impact on the climate. We are stuck with this blasted tax forever.

In the end, Mr Deputy President, never forget—and Senator Macdonald's question highlighted this—when the carbon floor price is not met, and it will not be met at $29 per tonne, their budget will be blasted to hell. They will never be able to balance another budget for another hundred years. We will never, ever let the Australian community forget what they have done to our country.