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Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Page: 4211

Climate Change


Mr RAMSEY (Grey) (14:53): My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Will the minister outline how the government is tackling climate change without a tax on electricity? Are there any alternative plans for a new tax on manufacturers like the steelmaker Arrium in my electorate of Grey?


Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for the Environment) (14:54): I want to thank the member for Grey, who commented to me just before question time that, on this of all days, when Arrium is in emergency talks and they are in administration, he could not imagine a worse time for a new manufacturing and electricity tax—a tax on the workers, a tax on the firm and a tax on jobs.

It comes against a background of two very different choices for Australia and South Australia. We have an economic plan, which was laid out by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, successively, over recent weeks and which will reach its culmination this evening, which, in particular, includes the defence and innovation work which we will be so vital to jobs in South Australia—work that was welcomed not just by us but by the South Australian Treasurer last week, who said, 'Minister Pyne has done exceptional work for South Australia in the last seven days.' This was not one of ours; one of yours. The minister was too modest—characteristically modest—to mention it himself.

We can compare that with the alternative that the other side has put forward. We know, because we announced the Department of the Environment figures to the United Nations only a week and a half ago, that Australia will meet and beat our target by 78 million tonnes in terms of managing our emissions. There have been two very successful auctions. I hope a third successful auction will be announced before the end of this week. We are doing our job. We are doing our part. We are doing this as part of a broader, national narrative of our responsibilities; but we are also building jobs and reducing the pressure on households.

The comparison is that last week Labor announced a new tax on electricity, a new tax on manufacturing and a new tax on jobs. What does it mean for families in South Australia? We know from Labor's own modelling of Labor's own policy that it is a 78 per cent increase in wholesale electricity prices—their modelling by Treasury, and you know how much they love Treasury modelling. This is their modelling of their policy. What does it mean beyond that? It also means, though, that there is a tax on Arrium, manufacturing and similar firms right around Australia.

Let's look at what their own union leaders have said about this. Tony Maher has said their policy would 'increase the cost of electricity for manufacturing and ordinary households.' Geoff Dyke, also of the CFMEU, said he had 'concerns about potential job losses.' Gary Wood of the CFMEU said that it was 'half-baked.' Bill Shorten tells us that he wants to govern like a union leader. When it comes to the carbon tax not even the union leaders want him to govern like a union leader.

The SPEAKER: I again remind the Minister for the Environment to refer to members by their correct titles.