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Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Page: 767

Carbon Pricing


Mr HUTCHINSON (Lyons) (14:30): My question is to the Minister for Small Business. Will the minister outline the impact of the carbon tax on small business? What is the government doing to ensure prices fall for electricity and gas, particularly in my home state of Tasmania?


Mr BILLSON (DunkleyMinister for Small Business) (14:31): For the benefit of the member for Lyons, the carbon tax is an absolutely cruel tax on small business. This is something that was reinforced when I recently visited New Norfolk with the member for Lyons for a small business forum. Time and time again, they talked about the impediments to small business, that great driver of growth, economic activity and employment. They said, 'Why is it that a government that has been voted out wants to hang on to a carbon tax that actually impedes our ability to create opportunities in our community?' In Tasmania, small business and family enterprises are the economy. They are so crucial to livelihoods for those citizens. What stands in their way? It is excess red tape, excessive taxes, particularly the carbon tax, and a disinterested Labor Party that has not heard the election result and wants to hang on to a tax that is a job destroyer. You can imagine the conversations we had when the member for Lyons outlined how a local IGA was paying some four times the amount for refrigerant gases on top of all the other carbon tax related price increases for energy—natural gas and electricity—in the whole supply chain and how hard it is for that small business to compete.

If the opposition leader is interested in jobs, I will help him with a plan for jobs. Under the former Labor government 412,000 jobs were lost in small business. Why? Their policy settings were hostile to small business. Small businesses understands that. The electorate understands that. The citizens in the member for Lyons electorate understand that. I just met with the Ai Group and they understand it. This government understand it. Why are those opposite standing in the road of giving small business the chance to recover its contribution to the economy and its opportunity to provide jobs and livelihoods? We are getting on with the work of getting rid of this job-destroying carbon tax.

The ACCC has been given a direction to start monitoring electricity and natural and synthetic gas prices so we have a baseline for costs that have resulted from the carbon tax. Why is that important? When we get to actually axe the tax, which is what the electorate wants and what small business are crying out for, we can make sure that those price increases that were a result of Labor's carbon tax are taken out of business and taken out of households, that the spending power of households in Lyons and right across the continent is restored, and that cost pressures are taken out of small business. We have a plan for jobs. It is about putting the business back into small business. One great impediment is the carbon tax. If you are slightly interested in jobs, Leader of the Opposition, why don't you join us to axe this tax and let small business get back to that powerhouse of employment they were before Labor cruelled the sector over six years?