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Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 13019


Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (16:11): Before I start, I would like to acknowledge the members of Sikh community here in the gallery today. I thank you for your interest. I am sure that many of you up there are suffering from the carbon tax that this government has inflicted upon you. Thank you for coming this afternoon.

I would like to add my contribution to today's matter of public importance on the subject of the adverse effect of the carbon tax on electricity and gas prices. What has been the effect of this tax, a tax that our own Prime Minister promised before the last election not to introduce? We must never forget her exact words: 'There will no carbon tax under a government I lead.' And yet here we are debating that carbon tax. Let us not forget, either, what the Treasurer said before the last election. He said: 'No it's not possible that we're bringing in the carbon tax, that is a hysterically inaccurate claim being made by the Coalition.' Here we are debating the carbon tax, when it was hysterically inaccurate claim that they would bring it in, according to our Treasurer.

To start with, what has been the effect of this tax? The most recent release of inflation figures issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics details the largest ever increase in electricity prices since modern records have been kept. That is what has happened in the last quarter. Everyone knows that the majority of that increase is because of the carbon tax; the carbon tax is largely responsible.

Dr Mike Kelly: Rubbish.

Mr CRAIG KELLY: The member for Eden-Monaro very well knows that the carbon tax is largely responsible for that. We would not have had these large electricity increases without it. It is very sad to see this complete and utter denial by members of the government. They come into this chamber and they refuse to acknowledge the harm that their carbon tax is doing to the Australian population.

The other thing that we need to remember is that this carbon tax is just getting started; it is just warming up. It started at $23 a tonne. But this poisonous and toxic tax goes up every year. It will go up to $37. And in fact by the year 2050 the carbon tax will not be $23 but will be $350 a tonne. That is what the tax does: it goes up; it escalates every year. If you want a vision of the future under this Labor government and under their carbon tax, picture a world where your electricity bill goes up every single time you open it up. That is what this carbon tax will do: it will make electricity prices go up forever.

Think about some of the things that previous generations have taken for granted, such as the ability to heat their homes in winter. Under this governments policy, things like that will become a luxury for future generations of Australians. They will not be able to heat their homes in winter because of this carbon tax.

We hear members of the government come in and say: 'It's all fine, the carbon tax is going well. Don’t worry about it. Everyone close your eyes and go back to sleep. Can you believe that? This is the same government that told us we would never have a carbon tax. Listening to this government you would think they are living in a parallel universe. They simply do not have a clue about the damage they are doing to households and families.

You should be listening to welfare groups, which are warning that some of the poorest people in our society can no longer afford to pay their electricity bill and they can no longer afford to turn their heater on in winter. That is the effect of this carbon tax. I know of aged pensioners who are going to bed in winter at 5 o'clock simply because they cannot afford to heat their house at night. That is what this carbon tax has done, and the problem is only going to get worse.

This government should listen to the words of former New South Wales Labor Premier Kristina Keneally, who said of the Carbon Tax:

Even ALP branch members ask me in dismay, 'Why did she do it when she said she wouldn't?'

"Reducing, lessening the impact, or possibly, revoking, the carbon tax: if she—

referring to the Prime Minister—

stays, it is the one Act of Contrition she needs to make.

…   …   …

"In doing so, she would tell the people of Australia "I am sorry, and I am listening to you."

But we are not hearing sorry from this government; they are just denying it. We are not even hearing that they are listening to the public about the harmful effects of this carbon tax.

There is also the issues of the effects this is having on business in our community. We know those on the other side, completely dominated by the trade unions, have absolutely no idea of the pressures that this tax is putting on business, especially small business. Our global competitors are laughing at us. We are the only nation that is putting on a tax of this extent. It is putting our nation at a competitive disadvantage. While we are in time for Melbourne Cup metaphors, it is putting weight in our saddlebag. It puts us backwards. It makes us less competitive. It reduces our productivity. It is bad for our nation.

But what we have seen is not only a complete denial but a dangerous commercial naivety from those running this government. We saw it only this week with the mining tax, a mining tax that was personally negotiated by none other than the Prime Minister and the Treasurer of this country. They sat down and they were played off a break by the mining companies. It looks like this great mining tax that was supposed to raise $9 billion, then it was $4 billion, and then it was $2 billion. We now know it might not even raise a brass razoo—not even one cent. You can just imagine our Prime Minister and Treasurer, with their commercial naivety, trying to negotiate that with business. It just shows that they do not have a clue.

The commercial naivety of this government was demonstrated by the comments of our Prime Minister about what small business should do when they face these price increases from the carbon tax. This is the message the Prime Minister gave to small business, and I hope they are listening so they see how little idea our Prime Minister has:

… you would be in a position to pass that onto the people who buy services from your business and we have expected that those costs would be passed on …

What dangerous and naive commercial incompetence. Small business cannot pass these costs on, and not only small business but also exporters. How are exporters in Australia meant to pass those costs on when the carbon tax is charged on the goods they produce but their overseas competitors do not pay that carbon tax? It simply puts our the people of our nation that we rely on—the producers, the people that underwrite our prosperity, the people that we need to fund everything in the future—at a competitive disadvantage and brings us all down. But this government simply does not understand.

At least around the world they are starting to wake up. Only this week in the UK John Hayes, the UK government's new minister for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said:

We can no longer have wind turbines imposed on communities. I can’t single-handedly build a new Jerusalem but I can protect our green and pleasant land.

And he stirringly declared:

I’m saying enough is enough.

And that is right—enough is enough.

The next election will be a referendum on the carbon tax, but it will not only be a referendum on the carbon tax. Everyone that is in the gallery and everyone that is listening today will have two choices at the next election. The first is Labor's carbon tax, which increases year after year, forever, and then morphs into an ETS. By 2050, under this government's plans, we will be sending $57 billion of the wealth of this nation overseas to foreign carbon traders. What will we get back for that $57 billion? A shiny piece of paper in a nice frame that says, 'We are permitted to emit carbon dioxide.' This government were talking today about funding the National Disability Insurance Scheme. They do not have a clue how they are going to fund it. How are we possibly going to fund it in the future if we have to send $57 billion, almost 1.5 per cent our GDP, overseas to foreign carbon traders? This election coming up is most important. It is very clear.

If the coalition wins this next election we will come into this parliament and, as our leader Tony Abbott has promised, on the very first sitting day we will introduce legislation to repeal this carbon tax in its entirety. (Time expired)