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Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Page: 1447

Carbon Pricing


Senator EDWARDS (South Australia) (14:03): My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Abetz. Can the minister advise the Senate why the government needs to abolish the carbon tax and why it needs to abolish it before Christmas?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:03): I thank Senator Edwards for the question. It is important that the carbon tax be repealed as soon as possible. The carbon tax was the crux of the unholy job-destroying agreement between the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens after the 2010 election. On 7 September 2013, Australians passed their judgement on both the carbon tax and the Labor-Greens alliance.

Senator Pratt interjecting

Senator ABETZ: At the 2010 election, former Prime Minister Gillard had promised there would be no carbon tax and, at the 2013 election, Labor issued flyers—of which Senator Pratt would be well aware—claiming it had already abolished the carbon tax. Both were lies. Labor are now being given the opportunity to actually honour their word and to abolish what is the world's biggest carbon tax. If the coalition has a mandate for anything, it has a mandate to abolish the job-destroying carbon tax. But Labor will not follow through on their word with the necessary action in this place—namely, to repeal the iniquitous carbon tax.

All Australians know that the carbon tax is driving up electricity prices and, in turn, increasing the cost of production and the cost of living, and destroying jobs. Labor lost government and the Greens lost a third of their vote nationally. The elected government says Labor should get out of its way and let the people have their say. We will give households a $550-a-year Christmas present, a present which will preserve their jobs and their household budgets, and help Australian business and industry.



Senator EDWARDS (South Australia) (14:05): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister advise the Senate of support for the government's view that it has a mandate to remove this carbon tax?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:06): Of all the broken promises and policy disasters of the former Labor government, none hangs around the neck of the Labor Party like a millstone more than the abandonment of its promise that there would be no carbon tax. The abolition of the carbon tax will correct that fundamental breach of faith with the electorate. In August, in the midst of the election campaign, a desperate then Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, admitted that in the past Labor governments had 'got a number of things wrong':

For example, I don't think our actions on the carbon tax were right. … to begin with, we didn't have a mandate for it.

He was absolutely right.

The Labor Party in this place this week have the capacity to right that wrong and once again re-establish faith with the Australian people. Indeed, Richard Marles, a Labor frontbencher, said, 'We must acknowledge the fact that Tony Abbott won the election and we lost.' (Time expired)


Senator EDWARDS (South Australia) (14:07): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. My final question to the minister is: can the minister advise the Senate of any further support for the government's view that it has a mandate to remove this toxic carbon tax?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:07): As I was indicating, Mr Richard Marles, a senior frontbencher of the Labor Party, has acknowledged exactly that and said that the new government had a mandate to axe the tax. I just wish that the Labor senators would follow through on the advice of Mr Rudd and Mr Marles.

Origin Energy Managing Director Grant King has said that a delay in repealing the carbon tax would be significantly difficult and challenging and mean extra costs to consumers. It is not just going to be inconvenient; it is going to cost consumers.

The National Farmers' Federation indicated that the average farm business would incur additional energy, fertiliser and chemical costs of up to $10,000 a year, impacting on food prices for every Australian and making our export capacity so much more difficult.

The New South Wales Irrigators' Council said the carbon tax was having a massive impact, and the Herald Sun editorial told us that the cure for the pain is the repeal of the tax. (Time expired)