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Thursday, 22 March 2012
Page: 2612

Carbon Pricing


Senator JOYCE (QueenslandLeader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:30): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Senator Wong. Given the minister's detailed knowledge of Labor's carbon tax and her interest in the facts, as quoted to Senator Brandis, can she advise to what extent cyclone intensity and frequency will decrease in Queensland's north by reason of the federal Labor government's carbon tax? How much will droughts decrease in Queensland's west by reason of Labor's carbon tax? How much will coral bleaching change in Queensland's Great Barrier Reef by reason of the carbon tax? How much will flooding change in Queensland's south-east by reason of the carbon tax? How much will sea levels fall on the Gold Coast, especially Snapper Rocks, because of the carbon tax? How much will dengue fever be reduced in the swamps in the Cape by reason of the carbon tax? How much will temperature change in Queensland—no, the world!—by reason of the carbon tax? For brevity and honesty, is the answer to all of this that the carbon tax will have no effect on them whatsoever?


Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:31): I think we all know where Senator Joyce stands on the climate science. He is right out there. He has never believed that climate change is real. He has never believed that there is any risk.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Wong, you need to come to the question.

Senator WONG: I am asked about the climate science. He has always believed, Mr President, that there is some sort of left-wing conspiracy.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, come to the question.

Senator WONG: If he wants to know how much of an effect there is from policy on the climate, I say to him that if he does not want any domestic action on climate change, why is it that he supports a policy to deal with climate change? That is what Mr Hunt says yours does. If you do not think there is any need to take any action, why are you supporting policy which will be more expensive, which is supposed to achieve the same environmental outcome.

Senator Brandis: Mr President, I have a point of order on direct relevance. The question was very specific. It was directed to a number of case studies of the alleged effect of the carbon tax on the Queensland environment. It was not about the Labor Party critique of the coalition's policy and you should bring the minister to the question.

The PRESIDENT: The minister has one minute and six seconds remaining. I have drawn the minister's attention already to the question. The minister needs to address the question.

Senator WONG: Thank you Mr President. I am responding to the proposition in the question.

Senator Mason: You were asked a specific question.

Senator WONG: Do you want to hear something or do you just want to yell? Would you like to hear something? You can just keep berating everybody.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Wong, ignore the interjections. They are disorderly.

Senator WONG: The senator keeps wanting to have the argument across the chamber.

The PRESIDENT: Forget about the interjections. Address your comments to the chair, Senator Wong. Interjections on my left are disorderly. When there is silence we will proceed.

Senator WONG: The proposition that underlies the senator's question is that we should not take any action in Australia because we cannot single-handedly fix climate change. That is true. But the same proposition would apply to the coalition's policy, which costs more. The reality is, we know that the State of the Climate report has found that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is higher than at any other time in human history. There is a lot of science on this, Senator Joyce, and I accept it. (Time expired)















Senator JOYCE (QueenslandLeader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:34): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Maybe we can have more luck on this one. Can the minister advise by how much electricity prices will go up in Queensland's south-east by reason of the carbon tax, or how much steel prices will go up in Gladstone by reason of the carbon tax, or how much fertiliser prices will go up in Bundaberg by reason of the carbon tax, or how much transport prices will go up in Mount Isa by reason of the carbon tax, or by how much food prices will go up in the Whitsundays by reason of the carbon tax? Does she have any details on any of those?


Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:35): The government has released detailed modelling and detailed costings which show that the average impact on the cost of living will be about 0.7 per cent of the CPI—that is, between three and four times smaller than the GST impact was on the CPI. This equates to about $9.90 a week on average and, on average, households will receive $10.10 per week in assistance. The government is putting forward a very comprehensive tax package that increases the tax-free threshold, as well as increases to the age pension and the family tax benefit in order to recognise the cost-of-living impact of 0.7 per cent—as I say, far smaller than the cost-of-living impact from the GST. I again remind the senator, if he cares about cost-of-living impact, why is he supporting a policy which will cost Australian households more?


Senator JOYCE (QueenslandLeader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:36): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister explain why, on a question of a tax imposed by her government on Queensland in 71 days' time, she can give no more than a collage of motherhood statements, instead of giving a qualitative answer with facts—that she says in her statement to Senator Brandis are so important—to the questions that are important? On not one issue was she able to table an exact answer or give nothing more than a general motherhood statement.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Joyce, I put to you that that question needs to be rephrased. I will give you the opportunity to rephrase it to make it comply.

Senator JOYCE: Mr President, I will rephrase my further supplementary question. In place of the motherhood statements you have just given, Minister, can you have another attempt to actually give an exact answer on how much electricity prices will go up, considering councils are now talking about a 10 per cent increase in electricity prices and your figures are vastly lower than that, considering councils are now talking about increases in the prices of fugitive emissions, considering prices are now flying through in so many areas, especially transport costs, considering people such as— (Time expired)




Senator WONG (South AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deregulation) (14:37): The 10 per cent electricity carbon price impact is in fact what the government modelled and is factored into the 0.7 cost-of-living increase. I thank you for the own goal, Senator, because you have confirmed to us that our modelling is correct. At least one time in this chamber we get a concession, albeit by mistake, from Senator Joyce that the government's modelling is correct. The 10 per cent increase is what we modelled and that is what is factored into the increased payments for households—less tax; a tax break for everyone earning under $80,000, opposed by you; increases to the pension, opposed by you; increases to the family tax benefit, opposed by you—just as Senator Joyce and others oppose tax breaks for small business and for the broader economy. So do not come in here, Senator, and talk to us about cost-of-living pressures given your record and your voting position.