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Wednesday, 2 March 2016
Page: 1630


Senator EDWARDS (South Australia) (15:52): I also rise to take note of the answer. Senator Cameron has belled the cat! In his last five seconds, he said the opposition has no idea on economic policy, and he is quite right. There is evidence of it littered all through the history of when you were last in government—the six years that you tormented the Australian people with this nonsense of a response to the GFC. I need go no further than the minerals resource rent tax to expose your economic illiteracy in areas of any kind of prudent fiscal management. That was a tax that went to the very heart of the biggest sector contributing taxes to our economy: the resource sector in Australia. Incomprehensibly, the then government forecast $3 billion worth of revenue in their first period. Actually, it was forecast to raise $3 billion over the first year; I must be specific. We came in, and we got rid of it six months after getting in. That was one of our key election policies. It had not raised $1.5 billion in the first six months. It had raised $126 million. That is how your projections go. At the same time, you put a great cloud over this country in terms of sovereign risk. That was the minerals resource rent tax. Can you imagine if that policy was still there today in the resources sector? It was one of your key planks, your key responses, to the global financial crisis to saddle up one of the biggest taxpaying sectors of our economy.

Then we had the carbon tax. 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead,' was the cry at the time that Julia Gillard was the Prime Minister of the country. In fact, can I have a show of hands? Has anybody on the other side of the chamber got a passport?

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator, you may not pose questions to other senators. Speak through me.

Senator EDWARDS: I would be interested because, unfortunately, when you are a big resource player and when you have industries, you tend to want to export whatever you make, dig or process. We had the carbon tax, which drove up the cost of doing business in this country in comparison to the ability of other countries to produce the same goods. You are all probably getting a little bit ho-hum about it, but it is economics 101. It is demand and supply. If you cannot supply global products, if you cannot supply products which we are proud to make, dig, process or grow here then you will not be competitive. If we put taxes on these growing areas of our economy, we are not going to be competitive. We export 60 per cent more than what we consume of what we grow. We certainly cannot use all of the ore or coal that we have—all of those sectors. But it is, 'Oh, no. We'll have a carbon tax. What we'll do is show our costs of production are disproportionate, and we'll put us at a direct disadvantage to other countries which we're up against.' Well done! That is a good way to drive business out of this country!

Then we had the renewables. That is the next one. I am glad Senator Gallacher is in the chamber. Because of his Labor colleague former Premier Mike Rann and his lax planning laws and investment policies and his high rebates on tariffs, 53 per cent of the nation's wind farms are now in South Australia. By virtue of that, we now have the third highest energy costs in the world. Well done, Premier Mike Rann! We have 53 per cent of the wind farms and no baseline energy. I know Senator Gallacher's patron seat of Grey has just closed its coal fired power station. Well done! You are useless and hopeless at managing an economy. Do not lecture us on what we should be doing here. (Time expired)