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Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Page: 11940


Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (22:24): This government brought 19 pieces of legislation into this place as the centrepiece of their betrayal of the Australian people. It took 19 bills to implement a carbon tax that should not even exist, and now they twist the knife a bit further with these seven amendments. This is a tax we were promised would not exist; Australian families were specifically promised that, just days before the last federal election, when the Prime Minister said, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.' Maybe she was right, because it is not the Prime Minister leading this government; it is the Greens, in an 'anything goes' bid to cling on to power, who hold the reins here.

As we watch this government scuttling about, fumbling and bumbling about, the worse it gets. It is almost like watching Peter Sellers in his famous Pink Panther role—and I say 'almost' because it is excruciating to watch but it is not funny. The Australian people are not laughing at their power bills. They are not laughing at the end of the week when the budget just does not stretch far enough. They are not laughing when their boss says that it is no longer worth keeping the doors open, or says he has to let people go to avoid closing the doors. They were not laughing in Central Queensland when BMA announced it was going to close its Gregory mine, with the loss of 300 jobs; when Xstrata Coal shed 600 jobs across its operations in Queensland and New South Wales and shut down its Mackay office; when Rio Tinto announced it was closing down its Blair Athol mine, with 170 jobs lost; when Anglo American shed 50 jobs from its Moranbah North mine; when BHP Billiton announced it had shelved plans for an expansion of its Peak Downs mine, forgoing about 350 jobs; when they announced they had shelved plans for their Red Hill mine, forgoing approximately 2,000 jobs during construction and 1,500 permanent jobs; when they announced they had shelved plans for their Saraji East mine, forgoing 2,500 jobs during construction and about 1,400 jobs permanently; or when Peabody Energy announced it had shelved plans for expansion of its Codrilla mine.

The people of Central Queensland have had enough. The people of Australia have had enough. I was recently in touch with a baker in Mackay—Peter Grant, who owns Bushman's Bread. He knows only too well how difficult it can be to make ends meet, because he—like many small businesses—is on a limited income. He can only sell his loaves of bread for so much. It is all perfectly well for the Prime Minister and others in this government to stand up here and tell businesses to 'pass it on' and then tell families that they will not have to pay it, but there are cases where the business simply cannot pass it on. Peter Grant cannot increase the selling price of his bread when he is competing with the likes of Coles and Woolworths, who sell their bread at less than cost. So, the $20,000 extra that he is going to pay because of the carbon tax comes directly out of his own pocket. So much for the weekly compensation of $10.10 when Peter and his family, and their small business, are out of pocket by 20 grand a year.

It is the same with many Bowen tomato farmers, including Rod Eatough, whose letter I read in parliament a while ago—the one where he said that this was a dud of a government if he ever saw one. He pays an extra $13,000 a year in cardboard boxes and an extra $9,000 in electricity, both directly due to the carbon tax. A cafe owner in Mackay, Drew Crouch, tells me that the average electricity bill in retail or hospitality businesses in Mackay is up by about $3,000 a quarter—that is $250 a week. And you know what he said to me? He said, 'You know what happens with that $250, George? Well, that's one less job.' One less job.

The owner of a Bowen tourist park tells me his power bill is up by 20 per cent and Ergon tells him that it could be 100 per cent attributable to the carbon tax. In a troubled tourism market, he cannot recoup the costs from his customers. It leaves him out of pocket by about $10,000 a year.

There are plenty of examples like this. These are real people with real concerns paying real costs because of the carbon tax. The Prime Minister, the Treasurer, the climate change minister and the rest of the Pink Panther cast can tell these people and other Australians that they are liars. They tell them that they are not paying the carbon tax. They would have those hardworking families and hardworking business owners believe that their rising electricity bills and other input costs are just a figment of their imagination.

The problem is that the Labor Party now listens only to the Greens. That is where they get their policy from. It is pretty simple stuff, Greens policy: do not make money, do not get ahead, make nothing, produce nothing, do nothing, do as the government says—and whatever you do, do not improve your lot in life. Oh, and let's all pretend it is about the environment. So, as far as the Greens are concerned, the carbon tax is perfect. It makes money off those who work too hard and earn too much, and it spends some of it on their primary voter base. It stops businesses from making money. It shuts down industries that they consider dirty and forces them to go offshore. It pours a large chunk of that dirty money down the drain as the money-go-round churns around and around and around.

You can be dressed up as green, by spending billions of dirty dollars overseas to buy what may or may not be reduced emissions on a dodgy carbon market. That is the perfect outcome for the Greens, and Labor took it on board as its own. So enamoured was the Prime Minister with this idea of the Greens that she signed on the bottom line and stumped up 19 of the most ill-conceived pieces of legislation that have ever been passed into law. So rushed was it that they were still putting it together as it was going through parliament.

I wonder whether it crossed anyone's mind what impact it was going to have on charities, and what impact it is going to have on aged-care homes. Aged-care homes are among the many constituents, individuals, businesses and organisations that contacted me when their electricity bills started rolling in after 1 July. The Good Shepherd Lodge in Mackay was one of them. Its CEO, Raelene Philips, wrote to me and said:

I would like to bring to your attention the one impact the introduction of the carbon tax has had on us as an aged care provider. We have just received our first electricity account since its introduction and have received and additional charge of $2,621 for the month, with an additional supplement from the government to assist, of $160. Clearly, this will have a significant roll-on effect to us as a provider, with an additional $30,000 expected annually.

I know what action should be taken on behalf of our aged-care residents and aged-care homes: the entire carbon tax package should be axed, the Labor Party should avoid further embarrassment that will result from their incompetence and association with the Greens by simply axing this tax completely. Instead of trying to patch up this carbon tax with these band-aid measures, these bandages in these amendments, what they should do is really have an amputation.

The SPEAKER: The question is that the amendments be agreed to. I call the member for Tangney