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Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Page: 7846

Senator THORP (Tasmania) (15:22): I hope that members opposite can hear me. The honourable senator was quite right when he referred to the fact that it has been a hundred days since the introduction of the carbon price. Let us remind ourselves of some of the dire predictions that were made leading up to that date. Do we all recall the Whyalla wipe-out? The whole area was going to be gone off the map; I believe it was almost set to music. In fact, just recently, the Mayor of Whyalla was quoted in his local press and more broadly as saying that the whole area is going gangbusters. So, no Whyalla wipe-out. Whole regions were going to be destroyed. You can almost hear the music in the background, and the lightning claps. Whole regions were going to be destroyed, including Gladstone. Yet, just in recent months—

Senator Fifield: Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. I am having some difficulty hearing Senator Thorp. You might ask the good senator if she could speak up so that not only senators on the floor but those in the gallery may have the benefit of her contribution.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Fifield. There is no point of order. Senator Thorp, you have the call.

Senator THORP: Thank you, Mr Deputy President. You might point out to members opposite that we do have quite up-to-date IT in this area and that there are speakers.

Senator Fifield: Stop mumbling and articulate clearly so that we can hear you.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order on my left!

Senator THORP: There have been billions and billions of dollars of investment in the Gladstone area, and that was only one of the regions destined to be wiped out. We were also going to see the death of the coal industry, the death of the steel industry and the death of manufacturing, and yet in those hundred days so oft referred to we have seen an additional 9,000 jobs created in the manufacturing industry. Huge price increases were anticipated, enormous price increases, but not according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. The price of electricity was going to go through the roof, but if you peel some of the layers off the onion and look more closely at the issue and take, for example, Western Australia, where electricity prices have gone up considerably—in fact, I have heard some quotes, and I am not sure whether they are correct, that it is by as much as 60 per cent in some areas—only nine per cent of that could ever have been attributed to the carbon price.

So here we are, back again in this place, with the pathetic fear campaign of those opposite now blaming the carbon price for any issues that maybe impacting on housing in Australia. It is very sad. According to the honourable fellow opposite, the loud one, he was saying—

Senator Jacinta Collins: Mason.

Senator THORP: Mason, I am sorry; I had a bit of trouble with the name, Mr Deputy President.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Fifield, did you have a point of order?

Senator Fifield: Just that the good senator has been not only—

Senator Jacinta Collins interjecting

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Fifield, I understand where you are going and I do not believe there is a point of order. I think Senator Mason had a mental blank—sorry, it was Senator Thorp. Senator Mason is the senator you are looking for, Senator Thorp. You have the call, Senator Thorp.

Senator THORP: We are but human. Treasury has just recently stated and anticipated not fear about the complete collapse of the Australian economy, no. In fact, Treasury is predicting strong economic growth will continue, with gross national income projected to grow at 1.1 per cent a year to 2050. Incomes will grow. Real income per person is projected to increase by $9,000 per year, from today's level, by 2020.

Senator Ian Macdonald: Which carbon price are they using?

Senator THORP: These figures are from the Treasury. Employment will grow, with 1.6 million new jobs created by 2020. Pollution will fall—unlike the comments from the senator opposite. By 2050, carbon pricing is expected to reduce Australia's domestic emissions by nearly half what they would be without a carbon price—a reduction of a significant amount. The price impacts will be modest. A one-off increase of 0.7 per cent to CPI, which compares with the 2.5 per cent increase that was the result of the GST. Gross state product for all states continues to grow strongly.

That is what Treasury says. Those are the facts. This is not emotive fear and rubbish. Whyalla has not gone, Gladstone has not been wiped out, the coal industry has not died, the steel industry has not died, the manufacturing industry has not died—in fact, 9,000 extra jobs were created in the hundred days. There have not been huge price increases. The price of electricity has been impacted by carbon pricing but not by the amounts that are often reflected in state prices. I think it is most inappropriate and most unfair by those opposite to try to blame everything that goes on in the global economy on carbon pricing, feeding the fear of vulnerable Australians. I find it quite despicable, particularly when you see it in the context of the fear people have around their futures, generally speaking. (Time expired)