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Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Page: 6537

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (16:29): Senator Furner from the Australian Labor Party accuses the coalition and our leader, Tony Abbott, of running scare campaigns, and yet listen to what Senator Furner has just said, the absolute rubbish that just came out of his mouth. He says that, unless we do something, the temperature in Brisbane is going to increase by 35 per cent. Did you say that, Senator Furner? I cannot believe you said it. I questioned you when you said it—35 per cent? He also said the tidal levels are going to rise. I remind Senator Furner that Professor Flannery, the Labor Party appointed guru on the Climate Commission, has been warning about tidal increases but has bought what is no doubt a cheap house on the banks of the Hawkesbury River. It shows how worried Professor Flannery is about tidal increases if he buys houses in areas he has been warning other people to get out of.

According to Senator Furner, if we do not do something, everyone who works on the Barrier Reef will lose their job. The tourism industry will dissipate if we do not impose a carbon tax on every Australian—talk about scare campaigns! In one short 10-minute speech, Senator Furner has taken the Labor Party's misrepresentations to the highest degree. Fortunately, everyone knows that Senator Furner is part of a party that is led by a Prime Minister who cannot tell the truth. I remind everyone who might be listing that it is only a year ago that Ms Gillard, the leader of the Australian Labor Party, then only recently the Prime Minister of Australia, promised every Australian: 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.' Obviously, a year ago, Ms Gillard did not agree with Senator Furner. She did not think that Brisbane's climate would increase by 35 per cent, she did not agree with Professor Flannery that tidal increases would wipe out everyone on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, she did not believe that everyone working on the Barrier Reef would lose their job and she did not believe that the tourist industry would disappear, because she promised Australians she was not going to introduce a carbon tax. Ms Gillard herself, a year ago, did not believe anything Senator Furner just said. I have to say, with some regret, to all of my colleagues from the Australian Labor Party opposite that their leader has got them into the position where nothing they say these days can be believed. Everyone remembers when they believed Ms Gillard; she ditched her promise and now nobody will take any notice of them.

The matter of public importance before us is the impact of the carbon tax on the tourism industry. I am proud to come from and live in Northern Australia. As well as having great potential to produce food for a world seeking new sources of food, Northern Australia has some of the most magnificent natural resources. We have the Ningaloo Reef, we have Broome, we have the Kimberley coast, we have Darwin and Kakadu, we have Cape York and the Torres Strait islands, we have the Barrier Reef and we have the rainforests behind Cairns. It is a magnificent area, but it has always been hot. When tourists go up north and visit these magnificent natural attractions, what is the first thing they do when they go into their hotel? They turn on the air conditioner and then they turn on the telly—and the hotel where they are staying has to pay the electricity. It pays for the electricity by charging the customer an appropriate price. Under the carbon tax, electricity prices are going to increase across the board by somewhere between 15 and 20 per cent. I can assure you that up in those remote places, where very often electricity comes from diesel fuel, they will go up by more than that, because the carbon tax will put an increased tax on diesel. So the prices charged by the hoteliers will have to go up to pay for the extra cost of electricity. That of course means that people from the south of Australia will not be coming up to the north, because they will not be able to afford it. What they will do is go overseas to places that do not have an increase in their electricity price or in their hotel prices, because they do not have a carbon tax. The carbon tax is the biggest tax of its type anywhere in the world, and it is being imposed by the lady who promised a year ago: 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.'

The other impact of this carbon tax is that, if you are Melburnian or a Sydneysider travelling up to Cairns, Darwin or Broome, you go by plane. Under the carbon tax you will have to pay an extra $50 on your ticket to get there. But if you go overseas, because there is no carbon tax on foreign airlines, no carbon tax if you fly to London, Hawaii, Japan or Africa, you do not have put up with it. So of course Australians are being encouraged to go overseas, because the carbon tax does not apply there. This tax will cause real difficulties for the tourism industry. Unfortunately, Cairns, midway between the Barrier Reef and the great rainforests, has been in diabolical trouble with unemployment since the Labor government came to power. That unemployment comes principally from the inflexibility that business operators have in arranging their businesses. The flexibility is gone under the Gillard government. This new tax on the Cairns district is going to increase unemployment in Cairns, which will, regrettably, confirm its unwanted reputation as the unemployment capital of the world.

I was distressed to read in the paper, just yesterday, that unemployment has increased in the city of Townsville, where I have my electorate office. It is quite a prosperous and broadly based city up in the tropics. Under the Gillard government, unemployment has skyrocketed there. I heard Senator Carr at question time rabbiting on about all of these new jobs that the Gillard government had created. I do not know where Senator Carr gets his statistics from, but I would ask him to check with the Australian Bureau of Statistics and then confirm to me that unemployment in Townsville, regrettably, is going up. But it will be worse in Townsville in the future, because the carbon tax will put an additional cost on all businesses up there, particularly tourism businesses.

Those who live in the leafy climes of Canberra, Melbourne or Sydney do not realise that air conditioning in the north is not a luxury; it is an essential. For all the tourists going up there, particularly the tourists from the south, air conditioning is essential. But the Gillard-Greens governĀ­ment's carbon tax will simply add to the cost of electricity and add to the cost of the tourism experience. That, I regret to say, will reduce the experience for many tourists and will discourage them from coming up that way.

I turn to Senator Furner's scare campaign about global warming. I should remind Senator Furner that his side does not talk about global warming anymore. It is climate change, remember, because the science these days is showing that any increase in temperature is minimal, if it is there. I understand the accepted science now is that the temperature over the last decade really has not increased at all. So forget the scare campaigns from the Labor Party. Forget the excuses for breaking promises. This carbon tax will be destructive to all Australians, but it will be particularly destructive to the tourism industry and particularly destructive to the industry in the north. For that, I condemn this government.