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Monday, 19 September 2011
Page: 10544

Mr SECKER (BarkerOpposition Whip) (18:45): I rise to speak on the Clean Energy Bill 2011 and associated legislation. From the start I want to point out to the chamber that I do actually understand the theory of greenhouse emissions. I do understand why some scientists say that an overexpansion of CO2 could possibly lead to an increase in temperatures around the world. I also understand climate change. I have been a farmer all my life. I rely on the climate. I rely on the weather. I understand it probably as well as anyone in this chamber because my livelihood depended on understanding the climate and what likelihood we would have of rain, heat, dry conditions, drought and so on. That has been part of my life and without it I would not have been as good a farmer as I was—my son now runs the farm.

I understand the theories. I understand we have had climate change. We have had climate change for centuries and I understand when people, especially from the other side, get up and say, 'We should listen to the scientists.' I believe in listening to the scientists. You do not always have to accept what they say, but I believe in listening to the scientists. But I can say to this chamber there is not one scientist in the world that will say that this these 19 pieces of legislation will have any effect on the climate. There is not one scientist in the world that would say that these bills will have any effect on the climate. Let's just get it right from the start. If we are going to accept the views of scientists then we should accept the view that all scientists in the world would say that this would have no effect on climate.

In the short time that I have I will try to fit in all the views expressed to me by many of my constituents on this government's carbon tax. Firstly, I want to highlight just one of the very bad parts of this legislation. I do not have nearly enough time to tell the House about all the ramifications of this tax but I will touch on some parts I feel are important. After the Prime Minister said, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead,' Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister, then set about introducing a tax that would drive up the cost of living, hurt business and do nothing to improve the environment. This is a $9 billion a year new tax. It will increase electricity bills by 10 per cent in the first year alone, hike gas bills by nine per cent in the first year, equate to higher marginal tax rates for low- and middle-income earners and hit the budget bottom line by $4.3 billion to the negative.

It is important to remember the government has not provided updated modelling since the initial price was set at $23 a tonne, so even as we are debating this motion we have not got the updated modelling because the truth about the government's modelling, which it has used to estimate how much the carbon tax will cost families, pensioners and businesses, is that it uses a price of $20 per tonne not $23 a tonne which is what they are setting the price at. Here we are expected to debate something when we do not have the correct modelling. There is a 15 percent discrepancy between the modelling and the actual price. This carbon tax is deeply flawed from the very beginning.

So with the price starting at $23 a tonne and costs estimated on only $20 a tonne it is also important to understand this government's carbon price is not fixed after three years. The government's own forecast is that the price will rise to $29 per tonne, not the $20 of the modelling, in 2016 then $37 per tonne in 2020 and over $350 per tonne in 2050. Has this government done any calculations on what these prices will do to the cost of living? Those figures would be hard to look at, that is for sure.

There is the Greens influence, this is a Labor-Greens government, and Greens senators have already expressed their views on the price, Senator Bob Brown would like to see $40 per tonne and Senator Hanson Young has canvassed a price of $100 a tonne. Even the government's own calculations talk about $350 per tonne in 2050—not $23, nearly 15 times greater.

I spend a fair portion of my time travelling around to businesses in my electorate to listen to their concerns and offer assistance where possible. During my travels this year I have heard one overarching theme: this government's carbon tax will cause unnecessary pain and force many businesses to close their doors. A well-established transport business owner in Murray Bridge with nine employees told me that he will close his doors due to the carbon tax. The added costs to transport will be enormous. A carbon tax will be applied to all trucks from 1 July 2014. This will increase costs significantly for transport companies. On top of that the fuel tax credit will be reduced from 1 July 2012 and this will ultimately lead to higher prices for consumers as the industry will be forced to pass costs on.

An Access Economics report highlighted the potential loss of 126,000 regional jobs under an earlier version of Labor's scheme. Gommers Transport in my electorate estimate Labor's carbon tax will cost their businesses an extra $60,000 a year in fuel alone. That is about $6,000 extra per truck. Gommers employ just under 30 people and transport is just one extra cost. They believe that the flow-on costs will be massive, and I hear stories similar to Gommers all over Barker.

Adelaide Mushrooms, Australia's largest mushroom producer, are another well-established business that believes this government's carbon tax will seriously hurt their business. Initial modelling by Adelaide Mushrooms predicts their costs would increase by $680,700. The price of mushrooms will rise from 18c a kilo to 23c, their gas bill will increase by 10 per cent in 2012, their water bill by 26.3 per cent and freight and packaging both by three per cent. The company will be hit by 5.5 per cent increase to wages, work cover, super and payroll tax—all those increases to a business that has already invested heavily in direct action by planting trees and installing energy-efficient generators.

Australia's 750,000 small businesses will receive no direct compensation; there most certainly will be a damaging flow-on effect from this alone. The Prime Minister has tried dismally to offer support to emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries. BlueScope Steel chairman, Graham Kraehe, had it right when he said Labor's proposed compensation deal is like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound.

All this pain to businesses and increases to cost of living and the government's own modelling shows emissions will not decrease in Australia. In fact emissions will increase in the eight years from 2012 to 2020, from 578 million tonnes to 621 million tonnes. These are the government's own figures. $3.5 billion in carbon tax revenue will be spent buying carbon credits from overseas. This is a scheme which the Australian Crime Commission has highlighted has involved $5 billion in fraud already.

Farming has not been spared either, and I have a large farming constituency. ABARES, Australia's premier agricultural sector impact group, said that broadacre incomes will slump by two per cent in 2011 and be down by up to 14 per cent by 2015. That is a slug of $1,100 initially, increasing up to $8,900 over four years. So the idea that farmers will not bear any of the cost is wrong, and of course it will be made worse when the tax on diesel comes in two years time, because every farmer knows they have to transport goods for production. Beef farmers will be slugged $1,200 initially, increasing to $6,700 by 2015. Sheep farmers could expect $800 initially, rising to $4,800 by 2015. Crop farmers could expect an initial $1,400 slug, rising to $9,700 by 2015, and diary farmers would face $1,800 in 2011, rising to $8,800, or up to $10,400, by 2015. I suspect this government only delayed the tax on diesel by two years because they knew the cost to consumers would go through the whole system. But it will affect farmers; it is only deferred for two years. The idea that farmers will not be worse off is quite wrong.

I attended a public meeting in Naracoorte in the south-east of my electorate earlier this year. It was organised by one of my constituents and I was a guest. The forum was advertised widely in the community and there was a great turnout. Even though the forum was open to everyone—and I did not organise it—the attendees were unanimously against this government's carbon tax. I would like to read out just a couple of comments I have received from my constituents. Margaret from the south-east said:

My husband and I are quite worried about the new Carbon Tax. We are pensioners but only own a diesel powered automobile. I have gone on the Internet to find the actual document that Ms Gillard will introduce but I can't find it. We want to know how her scheme will hurt us. We can see no benefits for the atmosphere or the Australian people.

Jan from the Riverland wrote to me and said:

I am very concerned about the Gillard carbon tax. I believe that it will not benefit any individual, nor the environment, but it will cost our country dearly by driving more industry offshore, simply by the fact that it is going to make Australia even less competitive in the World market. I urge you please to oppose this foolhardy action proposed by the government and furthermore stop their socialist agenda.

Her words. If you have a look around the rest of the world, there is no other country planning to impose an economy-wide carbon price. Europe has an ETS, often extolled by those opposite. I have spoken in this place previously on the European ETS and some of the dismal figures coming from it. But today I want to highlight that Europe's ETS is plagued by rorts, fraud and loss of jobs offshore. On top of this, it raises only about $500 million a year while this government's will raise $9 billion a year. That is just over $1 per person that Europe's ETS raises, while Labor's plan will be for $400 per person—$400 versus $1! It is just madness.

China's emissions growth of seven billion tonnes from 2005 to 2020 will be about 100 times Australia's so-called decrease of 70 million tonnes. In reality, there is zero chance either China or India will adopt any form of serious carbon tax. The United States, Canada, Japan and Korea have all either ditched or deferred carbon tax systems. China is experiencing a huge growth in greenhouse gas emissions and this includes the China Daily last year reporting that one League within Inner Mongolia plans to build 24 large-scale coal mines and eight clusters of coal fired power plants. This is just one small League's plans, and the Prime Minister was reported saying this year that China is closing down a dirty coal fired power generation facility at the rate of one every one or two weeks. I think the evidence suggests the opposite: they are building a lot more. The coalition's position is clear: we will vote against this carbon tax legislation and, if elected, we will rescind the legislation and scrap the carbon tax. Australia's manufacturing sector is already under pressure and this carbon tax will increase costs which overseas competitors do not have to pay. The carbon tax will force jobs overseas to factories which emit more emissions than those here in Australia.

Of interest are some promising renewable projects in Barker, a wave power site in Port MacDonnell. Wave power has the ability to be used as base load power and, when not in use for power, can also be utilised for desalination. Also in the south-east is a geothermal site. The Penola project is a measured geothermal resource totalling 11.000 PJs. This is the largest of only three known measured resources in Australia and can provide base-load power.

Unlike this government's carbon tax, the coalition's policy is fully funded and will ensure a government lives within its means. (Time expired)