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Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Page: 1452

Carbon Pricing


Senator RUSTON (South Australia) (14:21): My question is to the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Sinodinos. Can the Assistant Treasurer advise the Senate why the coalition is seeking to remove the financial burden of the carbon tax on households and businesses? Can he further explain what is standing in the way of the government delivering this relief to all Australian taxpayers?


Senator SINODINOS (New South WalesAssistant Treasurer) (14:21): I thank Senator Ruston for her question. She is a great advocate of small business and of regional South Australia in particular. By refusing to support the abolition of the carbon tax, those opposite are robbing Australians of $550 a year, cash on the barrel head—$550 a year from the abolition of the carbon tax. One of the most immediate impacts of the carbon tax on households is the price of electricity and gas.

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator SINODINOS: You do not like this. You do not like being reminded about taxes and prices going up. The carbon tax is an $8 billion—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Sinodinos, just resume your seat. Senator Sinodinos, continue.

Senator SINODINOS: Thank you, Mr President. The carbon tax is an $8 billion a year burden on electricity. By abolishing the tax, electricity prices will be around nine per cent lower and retail gas prices around seven per cent lower than they would otherwise be. On this basis, household average electricity and gas bills will be around $200 and $70 respectively lower than they would otherwise be in 2014-15, assuming a carbon tax worth $25.40 per tonne.

The filibustering from those opposite comes at the worst possible time for households: in the run-up to Christmas, when we should be doing everything we can to be promoting confidence and thinking about gifts for loved ones. The coalition was elected on a clear promise, a clear mandate, to scrap the carbon tax. The time is up. Those opposite must listen to the Australian people.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Sinodinos, resume your seat. When there is silence, we will proceed.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: On my left!

Senator Faulkner: You've got to say all this with a straight face, Arthur. Stop smiling.

The PRESIDENT: When there is silence, we will proceed. Senator Sinodinos.

Senator SINODINOS: Thank you, Mr President. To Senator Faulkner: I am trying to be a friendly persuader. Removing the carbon tax will be a boost for business. Time after time, business leaders have met the government and told us how the carbon tax has damaged business. More than 440 pages will be removed from the statute book if we act before this parliament ends this year. Removing liabilities from 30 June 2014 will simplify the transition for business by avoiding the need to change compliance systems in the middle of the financial year.










Senator RUSTON (South Australia) (14:24): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Could the minister advise the Senate specifically what would be the consequences to jobs, businesses and the economy if the repeal of the carbon tax is delayed.


Senator SINODINOS (New South WalesAssistant Treasurer) (14:24): Unless repealed, by 2020 the carbon price would have hit $38 a tonne. That was the projection in the modelling in the budget papers. On the modelling from those opposite, the negative impact of the carbon tax would have been an increase in inflation of 0.7 per cent in this year, reducing gross national income by 0.8 per cent, and after 10 years the level of real wages would be 1.1 per cent lower across the country. The carbon tax is a cost that is not imposed on overseas business competitors; it is a reverse tariff. We have seen just how much it is affecting businesses. Qantas's annual report showed the carbon tax drove up operating expenses by $106 million. It has inflated the cost of a car by $400 per car. It is not just big corporations. The tax is also affecting mum-and-dad businesses, who face higher costs—for example, increases in electricity prices and transport costs, which they have to absorb; they cannot pass them on.


Senator RUSTON (South Australia) (14:26): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Could the minister advise the Senate if the carbon tax has been effective in reducing emissions?


Senator SINODINOS (New South WalesAssistant Treasurer) (14:26): All of us in this place know that Australia contributes only around 1.4 per cent to global emissions, and Labor's carbon tax has reduced emissions by just 0.1 per cent. Not only has the carbon tax not worked in the manner those opposite perhaps may have intended; it has shifted Australia's emissions to other parts of the world, and this is worse for the environment. Let me give you an example. A tonne of alumina produced in Australia emits an average of 0.85 tonnes of CO2, while in China the average carbon emissions from production of a tonne of alumina are 1.35 tonnes. I call on those opposite to stop defying the will of the people of Australia, side with the coalition and immediately scrap the carbon tax.