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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 5881


Mr CRAIG THOMSON (Dobell) (17:20): During the last time I spoke on this bill I was highlighting to the House the complete hypocrisy from those on the other side in relation to their approach to these bills. On the last occasion that I was making a contribution, we went through the policy position that the former government adopted in relation to these bills. It was a policy position that this government adopts in relation to these bills. It was a policy position that was supported by a former Prime Minister, the then member for Bennelong, Mr Howard, a former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Anderson, and a former Treasurer, Mr Costello. All of them put on record their support for this excise—in relation to LPG and LNG—in exactly the same manner as this government has done in the legislation we are debating today.

So, for the opposition to come in here and criticise and say that this is something they are opposed to shows where the opposition stand in relation to this parliament. The opposition oppose everything just for the sake of opposing. It does not matter what the merits are, it does not even matter if it is their own position; they will oppose for the sake of opposing. There are no arguments that they can put about the history of this legislation. There are no arguments about where the policy came from. They started this policy. It was their position. They knew the time line in relation to this. Yet, because the Leader of the Opposition is incapable of any positive contribution in relation to legislation, what are they locked into? A position of opposing their own policy on these bills.

They may also say: 'LPG in cars produces less carbon and therefore there should be a discount for it.' It is reasonable to put the proposition that maybe the excise should be in proportion to the reduction in carbon emissions. If you use LPG, a car emits 13 per cent less emissions. The discount that is in these bills is 50 per cent. So people are getting a 50 per cent discount for a 13 per cent reduction in emissions. No-one can argue that that is not generous.

After my last contribution, the Deputy Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, the member for Moncrieff, asked Treasury an important question about the price of LPG in Australia compared to other countries around the world and about what effect this excise will have on that price and that ranking. That information has come back, and I am happy to report it. There will be a slight decline in Australia's ranking in price compared to other countries. We will move down one place, to be behind Canada. We will almost have the same price, but we will go just behind Canada. We will still be cheaper than the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Belgium. Our LPG, even after the excise, is going to be cheaper in Australia than it is in all of those other countries, with the exception of Canada. That is where we have moved back.

I note from the speaking list that we will not have the member for Higgins or the member for Bennelong making a contribution. You can understand why. You can imagine the phone call that has gone to the office of the current member for Higgins from the former member from Higgins: 'What are you doing? This is our policy. We need policy. We need to be supporting it.' You can just imagine the phone call and the embarrassment that there would be if she actually had to come into this chamber and oppose the legislation that the former holder of her seat put forward.

This is good legislation. This is about Australia's energy security in the future. This is about making sure that we have the right regimes in place for these forms of fuel. This is good policy, policy that was supported by the former government, policy that is supported by this government. It is only opposed by those opposite because that is all they can do: oppose. I commend the bills to the House.