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Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Page: 4670

Carbon Pricing


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (14:35): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigen­ous Affairs and Minister representing the Minister for Social Inclusion, Senator Arbib. Can the minister advise whether voluntary organisations like scouts, local football clubs and lifesaving clubs, together with charitable and not-for-profit organisations, will receive compensation for carbon tax cost increases?


Senator ARBIB (New South WalesMinister for Sport, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development and Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness) (14:36): The federal govern­ment will provide assistance to community organisations, and this has been outlined extensively by the Prime Minister and by Minister Combet. Charities around the country will be supported as we transition to the Clean Energy Future. The Low Carbon Communities program will fund grants for local councils and community organisations to retrofit or upgrade community-use build­ings to reduce their energy use. This will cut their energy costs and serve as demonstration projects to promote energy efficiency in the community. There will also be a dedicated funding stream under the Low Carbon Communities program to provide payments to charities to offset the carbon cost they will face for aviation fuels and fuels used for maritime purposes that will attract an effective carbon price under the fuel excise and tax credits scheme. This funding will be provided on an ongoing basis. So there will be support. We have also committed $53.6 million over four years to establish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission from July next year to reduce compliance costs and make it easier for not-for-profits to go about their business of continuing to a fairer—

Senator Fifield: Mr President, a point of order on relevance: I am not sure that Scout groups, for instance, use a heck of a lot of aviation fuel, so I am not sure how that particular measure would help these organ­isations. The question was specifically about compensation for carbon tax cost increases—not about retrofitting, not about light bulbs but cost increases.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. I believe the minister is answering the question and has 30 seconds remaining to answer the question.

Senator ARBIB: Thank you, Mr President. I was talking in terms of charities as the question related to them. Let us look at the alternative. Let us look at direct action and the effect that is going to have on charities and households, because we now know that the average household will be over $1,000 worse off under direct action—taking money from families and from the communities and giving it to big business. This is the policy under the Liberal Party. (Time expired)

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: When you have ceased the debate across the chamber, we will continue.

Senator Sherry interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Sherry, I have invited people to desist from debating this across the chamber. The time you can debate it is past three o'clock.







Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (14:39): Mr President, I have a supple­mentary question. We have still heard not a word from the minister about direct compensation for cost increases for these organisations. Can the minister explain how the government expects local footy clubs or organisations like the St Vincent de Paul Society or the Salvation Army to compensate for the shortfall in their running costs as a result of the carbon tax and what are the government's expectations for voluntary organisations to cover the increased costs from the carbon tax—more fundraising or reduced services?


Senator ARBIB (New South WalesMinister for Sport, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development and Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness) (14:40): I note that Senator Fifield talked about running costs, and that is exactly what I have been talking about in terms of charities. In terms of sporting clubs in particular, the expanded Low Carbon Communities initiative will provide $330 million over four years to support local councils supporting community groups and to support sporting organisations to reduce energy consumption and pollution. Senator Fifield talked about running costs. That is exactly what the government is providing in supporting these organisations. Again, Senator Fifield and the Liberal Party should be honest about what they are intending to do through direct action, moving the cost from big business on to families, on to households. Households will have to find over $1,000 extra because of direct action, because of the policies of the federal Liberal Party. They do not talk about it. They are trying to hide it, but we are going to remind them because their time is coming on that one. (Time expired)


Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (14:41): Mr President, I have another supplementary question. Given the substantial impact the carbon tax will have on charitable organisations, how does this sit with the government's much hyped compact with the not-for-profit sector?


Senator ARBIB (New South WalesMinister for Sport, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development and Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness) (14:41): Senator Fifield knows full well the support that this federal Labor government has given to the not-for-profit sector, the support during the global financial crisis that we provided to that sector. Liberal senators on that side voted against support to charities. They voted against support through the jobs fund—they voted against it time and time again. They should be ashamed of themselves. Senator Fifield has the hide to come in here and question our commitment to the not-for-profit sector. We have worked with them day in, day out.

Senator Fifield: Mr President, a point of order on relevance: the minister is not even being relevant to his own policies. The government only provided $11 million in direct funding support during the financial crisis.

The PRESIDENT: That is debating the issue. Order! The debate on the issue takes place after 3 pm, as I keep pointing out. The minister has 22 seconds remaining.

Senator ARBIB: Mr President, I am being directly relevant to the question Senator Fifield asked about our commitment to not-for-profits, to the charity sector. There is $5 billion going now into the homeless­ness area, 180 extra services being rolled out. We have made the commitment. Those over on that side cut funding of services and now they have a $70 billion black hole. That money is going to come out of services. (Time expired)