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Thursday, 6 March 2014
Page: 1906

Carbon Pricing

Mr CHRISTENSEN (DawsonThe Nationals Deputy Whip) (14:38): My question is to the most productive Minister for the Environment that we have had for a while. I refer the minister to the list of entities liable for the carbon tax, published by the Clean Energy Regulator on 14 February, that shows that Mackay Sugar and Wilmar sugar refining paid a carbon tax bill of $1.9 million each in 2012-13. What impact has the carbon tax had on manufacturing in Australia and why should the tax be repealed immediately?

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for the Environment) (14:39): Thank you very much to the most productive member for Dawson in many years. And he is not just that.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: There will be silence on my left, and that includes the member for Chifley.

Mr HUNT: He represents the sugar capital of Australia and he is a great supporter of the sugar industry himself. But I have bad news for the member for Dawson. We heard during the election campaign, from none other than the former Prime Minister Mr Rudd, that the carbon tax had been terminated. It has not. Only today, we have more news from the Senate. The Senate continues the strike from Labor senators. Three months and four days since the carbon tax bills were introduced in the Senate—no decision, no outcome. It is work to rule. The Leader of the Opposition has brought his union tradition into this House and into the Senate and he has his boys and girls on strike in the Senate. We would say to the Leader of the Opposition: if you are serious about being productive, if you are serious about cost of living and if you are serious about the impact on manufacturing and other Australian firms, bring your senators back to work and get them to vote on repealing the carbon tax.

What it means for Mackay Sugar and Wilmar Sugar is a $1.9 million hit on their businesses, their workers and their consumers each year, whether that is at the Mackay plant or the Yarraville plant. But it is part of a broader problem, a bigger problem, of a $1.1 billion hit on Australian manufacturing. That is on chemicals, that is on cement, that is on food and that is on glass—all of these great Australian firms. That is why, when you look at the roll call of Australian industry, they are saying it is time for the Senate to vote. We heard from the Australian Industry Group in the last week:

Australia’s carbon tax is one of the highest in the world. It is making our key industries less competitive every day …

We have heard from the Australian Forest Products Association:

We ask that the Senate promptly passes the Bills to remove the carbon tax, as it is in our national interest …

The Australian Aluminium Council said:

It is clearly the Government’s intention—and a position that the Australian Aluminium Council (AAC) supports—that this legislation be passed …

The cement industry supports the carbon tax repeal legislation. The Minerals Council says it is necessary because it is a 'poorly designed response' to climate change. The Food and Grocery Council urges the Senate to:

… pass the carbon tax repeal bill without delay.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Silence on my left!

Mr HUNT: There is a reason that all of these firms and all of these industries want the Senate to vote on the carbon tax repeal, and that is that it is affecting jobs, it is affecting costs and it is affecting competitiveness. It is within the gift of the Leader of the Opposition to bring his senators back to work. I say to the Leader of the Opposition: get out of the way and repeal the carbon tax.