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Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Page: 7186


Mr BILLSON (Dunkley) (09:42): My statement is on behalf of the small business constituency that once again has been neglected by this Labor Gillard government. The Federation Chamber was delayed in commencing its proceedings because in the main chamber it was the last chance for Labor to actually listen to and respond to the voice of the small business community. The coalition brought forward a motion pleading with this government not to increase the carbon tax that is already causing such harm and economic hardship for so many in the small business community, not to see a further five per cent increase in that carbon tax from 1 July and not to proceed with an increase in carbon tax costs on heavy freight transport from 1 July in 12 months time. There was an opportunity, but instead the government guillotined an important debate about an important measure to stop adding further harm to the economic hardship that the carbon tax is producing.

All you need to do is look at the facts. We saw, in the small business Too Big To Ignore campaign, the election priorities that the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry have outlined. They are calling for the abolition of the carbon tax. They recognise that it is a cost impost on small business, for whom there is no compensation, no carve out and no direct assistance. Small businesses are being told to either pass those costs on or suck them up.

Today we have got some new research. The Australian Industry Group has actually had a look at what the business response has been to the imposition of the carbon tax. The Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business yesterday put out a press release saying: 'Don't worry. Small business doesn't pay the carbon price.' What utter nonsense! What an alternate universe this Labor team lives in. This survey says that business picks up the carbon tax bill. The Australian Industry Group surveyed several hundred of its members to find out what the carbon tax has meant to them.

What it has meant for more than two-thirds of them is that they have not been able to pass on the costs of the carbon tax. They have had to absorb the impact of the carbon tax. There is interesting research here about the way in which different sized businesses have responded to the imposition of the carbon tax: 68 per cent of small businesses—two-thirds—have not been in a position to reduce their carbon intensity. Instead, they are getting it in the neck with the carbon tax—a carbon tax the government promised small business would not face. If you go further into the research, you ask what is happening there? Small businesses say that it is a lack of funding. There are already viability and margin pressures on small business. This is why they have not been in a position to invest, to negate the harm caused by the impact of the carbon tax. The research goes on to say that close to 70 per cent have not been able to pass on any energy cost rises relating to the carbon tax. One in 20 have been able to pass on a small portion of the carbon tax. This is causing economic harm and injury. We must abolish this carbon tax. It is causing damage to our economy and to small business. (Time expired)