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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4750

Carbon Pricing

Mr MURPHY (Reid) (14:38): My question is to the Minister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Minister, how is the government assisting households with the modest impact of the carbon price and broader cost-of-living pressures? Minister, why is it important that this assistance is delivered?

Mr COMBET (CharltonMinister for Industry and Innovation and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:38): I thank my New South Wales colleague the member for Reid for his question. The carbon price, as the member for Reid indicated, will have a modest impact on the cost of living and, as the acting Prime Minister indicated earlier, only 0.7 per cent increase in the consumer price index—less than one cent in the dollar.

To help households, the government is providing tax cuts. We are trebling the tax-free threshold to implement those costs. We are providing increases in family payments and we are increasing the pension and many other Commonwealth benefits.

What this means is that nine out of 10 households will receive some assistance, six million households will receive assistance covering their entire expected average price impact, and four million households will receive assistance covering 120 per cent of the average price impact that we expect them to experience, meaning that they will have a buffer that will leave them—the four million lowest households in the country—better off. In fact, some of these payments for increased family tax benefits began last week and payments to pensioners will also be made during the months of May and June—an initial $250 for a single pensioner, for example, and $380 for a couple.

Contrary to some of the commentary that we hear from the Leader of the Opposition, these increases are permanent and they are indexed. In addition to this, the budget provided for more general relief from cost-of-living pressures. That is why the budget included no less than $5 billion in new support for low- and middle-income households.

These new measures will spread the benefits of the mining boom. They include our schoolkids bonus, which will give families $410 a year for each child in primary school, and $820 a year for each child in high school for those eligible under family tax benefit arrangements. Those initial payments will begin next month, as my ministerial colleague indicated earlier.

The budget also included a supplementary allowance of $210 for singles and $350 for couples, to help the unemployed, to help young people, and to help single parents, with things like utilities bills. Those opposite showed their true colours in their response to many of these measures, including the schoolkids bonus. First, they patronised people by arguing that families could not be trusted to spend the money on their children. Then they voted against the schoolkids bonus, seeking to deny families thousands of dollars in assistance.

On the one hand they create cost-of-living fear and on the other hand, when it really counts, they vote against— (Time expired)