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Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Page: 4684


Senator HEFFERNAN (New South Wales) (15:28): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by ministers to questions without notice asked today.

I noticed the question about the brothel business and Craig Thomson. He needs to get some negotiating skills. It sounds like the BER. I think he was overcharged.

Government senators interjecting

Senator HEFFERNAN: That was just a throwaway. It is as bad as the BER. The carbon tax issue was raised in question time. Rorting will take place under this carbon tax due to a lack of knowledge and the shifting of profit centres. We have already seen what has happened in Europe with the ETS—and this tax is a progression towards an ETS—where they had to shut it down because of the rorting. What we are expecting to do in Australia is give countries like Columbia a pass-the-parcel commission process for companies anywhere around the planet to acquire a carbon credit for the carbon tax. I would not have any idea of how you would supervise that, given that we cannot even supervise our own tax because of places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. God knows it will be a feast for lawyers and accountants, but I bet a lot of that money will not find its way to the coffers that the government supposes it is going to find its way to.

The government has the hide, as part of the bargaining and politics of saying 'we must have a carbon tax', to put a proposition to the people of Australia that there will be no additions to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme until we are back in the black. What sort of a tax is that? What sort of blackmail is that? It is outrageous that people who need new medicines and new cures to come onto the PBS are going to be denied them. Unless you have enough money, the PBS is going to be closed up until we get back into surplus.

I also note that a direct effect of the carbon tax is that any abattoir that is killing 24,999 cattle is excluded, but if it kills one more it will be included. What sort of an arrangement is that? The absolute thoughtlessness of the carbon tax and the impracticality of the implementation of the carbon tax is typical of the failures of this government, whether it was pink batts or the BER. No-one is worried about the good school buildings. That is all good. It is just that they cost double what they should have cost.

I suggest that the lawyers and accountants are going to be the winners in this just like in the coal seam mining episode, where the lawyers are getting $2,500 for every $1,500 that the cocky gets. As Senator Joyce noted, the lawyers get $2,500 for negotiating an arrangement for one well but the cocky gets $1,500. Where is all this going to finish up? With great respect, forget the tax.