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Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Page: 1426


Senator WILLIAMS (New South Wales) (12:21): As you are aware, Acting Deputy President Fawcett, you were on the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee which held an inquiry into this very piece of legislation, the Climate Change Authority (Abolition) Bill 2013. Senator Singh said, 'Yes we need international action.' That is exactly right. I wonder if Senator Singh can recall a former Prime Minister, Mr Kevin Rudd, just before the election, saying the carbon tax is costing people, is adding to the cost of living and is adding to the cost of doing business. He was correct.

You will recall, Mr Acting Deputy President Fawcett, that during the inquiry the National Farmers Federation said that the carbon tax was costing the average farm in Australia about $10,000, yet farmers have to compete in international markets where many—even most—have nowhere near that cost put on them for any climate change action. The dairy industry, which is competing in a domestic dollar-a-litre-for-milk war, is hurting financially and trying to survive. The truckies—the very people who literally carry our nation and transport everything from exports to the waterfront to supplies to our country towns around our nation—were going to be hit with another $515 million diesel tax on their diesel fuel under the former government's proposal. This was to occur just as the trucking industry introduced the Euro 4 and Euro 5 motors, which are far cleaner than, for example, the older Detroit diesels and the 14-litre Cummins I used to drive many years ago.

Then there is the refrigeration gas. This is amazing! An IGA owner in Central West New South Wales had a gas leak in his large refrigerator. He had to put 65 kilos of refrigerant gas back into it. Instead of costing him $26 a kilo, it cost him $150 a kilo. Instead of costing him around $1,650, it cost him $9,750. It cost him $8,000 more to top up the refrigerant gas after fixing the leak in his refrigeration system. I wonder who pays that $8,000? Of course it goes onto the price of the foods and groceries he sells, and the consumers pay for it.

The cement industry is another industry that was hit very hard. We run the risk of shutting down our industries in Australia and see them moving to places like China where they emit more CO2 when they process cement. The current scheme is not working.

I was not amazed to read the column by Samantha Maiden in Sunday's paper, which said that we have virtually had no reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in Australia. In fact, the committee heard that the forecast of around 580 million tonnes of CO2 a year will rise to in excess of 620 million tonnes by the year 2020. There is no reduction. It will just go into the world scheme of emission trading where we will buy about $3.5 billion worth of permits from overseas, from countries who may well defraud and commit fraud in setting up their so-called carbon credits.

We have the Department of Environment and, of course, it will remain. We have the CSIRO and we have the Bureau of Meteorology. We do not need this organisation, which is simply another cost to the taxpayers of Australia, especially businesses. I go back to Samantha Maiden's comments on Sunday that since the carbon tax was introduced—the tax that we were never going to have according to the commitment by former Prime Minister Ms Julia Gillard and former Treasurer Mr Wayne Swan—it has cost $24,000 per tonne of CO2 abatement. That is what it has cost the people of Australia and the industries of Australia.

We now have all of these troubles with the motor vehicle industry. The cost to them and to industry everywhere is unfair. It is currently at $24.15 a tonne, which is the most expensive carbon tax in the world. As I said, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd admitted that in run-up to the 7 September election. He said, 'The carbon tax has got to go. Let's have a cheaper emissions trading scheme for a little while until it goes up to a projected $38 a tonne by the year 2020.' Since the previous government, under pressure from the Greens and Independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, introduced a scheme that is not working, it has cost Australian business and the Australian people $24,000 a tonne. It is not getting rid of CO2 emissions; it is getting rid of jobs. That is all that it is doing.

As I said thousands of times, the Australian people were quite clear about how they voted on 7 September and what our policies were. One policy was to abolish the carbon tax, and another was to abolish the mining tax. That is exactly what will happen. We will go back to the people if it does not. So come to accept that the carbon tax is not working, is a cost on our nation and our businesses, is transferring business and jobs overseas, is having no effect in Australia and is hugely expensive. That is why this bill that we are debating now is part of the carbon tax abolition policies that we went to the people with and that they clearly voted for. This was in a case where the Australian Labor Party had its lowest primary vote for 110 years, dating back to 1903. If they are going to stand in the road, the people will decide.