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Thursday, 21 June 2012
Page: 7531

Mr HARTSUYKER (Cowper) (16:40): The 1st of the July is the day upon which the Prime Minister's elaborate deception of the Australian people comes to fruition. The 1stof July is the day upon which every power point in the country becomes a tax collection agency for the Labor government. The 1stof July is the day upon which the fraud perpetrated by the Prime Minister, the member for Lyne and the member for New England will really start to hit home.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for Cowper knows that he cannot use that word.

Mr HARTSUYKER: I withdraw.

Mr Randall: Deception?

Mr HARTSUYKER: Deception? Yes, that is all right. On 1 July the people of the North Coast are going to see a power increase—not five per cent, not 10 per cent, but 19.8 per cent—on their power bill. How much of this is due to the carbon tax? Around half. The Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister would have us believe that half is a tiny fraction. I assure the Deputy Prime Minister that half is not a tiny fraction and that a 10 per cent increase in power bills is going to greatly disadvantage the people of the North Coast.

When you look at the government modelling, you see that it is quite informative. The government said that power costs will rise by around 10 per cent, according to their modelling. But there is a key point that they are omitting. They said that power costs would rise by 10 per cent over five years. What we have got is almost a 10 per cent increase on the first day. And what are we going to see as the carbon tax increases—as the government predicts it will—all the way to $350 a tonne from $23 a tonne—a figure already out of kilter with taxes around the world. At $350 a tonne, what will the price of electricity be then? What will the Prime Minister say to the people of Australia then? What will the member for Lyne be saying to his constituents? 'Oh, it's good for you. Trust me; it's good for you.' How ridiculous!

We have a situation where small business on the North Coast is struggling under increased costs and we have a government, supported by the Independents, making a bad situation worse. Many businesses are struggling and reducing their energy consumption anyway they can, but they have already been doing that for quite some time and they have very few alternatives but to pay the increased costs or go out of business. I would like to refer to the power bill of Mr Russell Greenwood of Russell's Meats. He said to the media last year:

I think that the backbone of this country is small business and if this carbon tax goes through, well it's going to crucify and close a lot of stores, which are already closing. People are finding it very hard out there in this economy and I think it's just going to get worse and worse if this carbon tax goes ahead.

Mr Greenwood's electricity bill is in excess of $22,000 a year—and this carbon tax is going to drive it up even higher. On 1 July that $22,000 bill is going up by almost 20 per cent.

And it is not just butchers like Mr Greenwood that are going to be affected. Supermarkets having to keep food cool and pubs and hospitality establishments are going to be affected. Any business that uses electricity is going to be hit hard by this tax. But the government just does not seem to care. There has been no compensation for small business under the carbon tax legislation. Small business, the major driver of employment on the North Coast, has been ignored by the Prime Minister and abandoned by the Independents. Small business cannot stand another 20 per cent increase in electricity prices. This government should repeal this crazy tax. The Independents should see the folly of the decision they made to support this government and should support this tax. Small business needs a helping hand at this time. They are struggling with increased costs and static or falling turnovers, and it cannot go on. If we are going to maintain reasonable levels of employment in coastal communities we need to remove from small business every pressure that we can. A carbon tax moves in exactly the opposite direction. It is a tax on small business, a tax on employment and a tax on competitiveness. It is a tax that makes no logical sense. Why export Australian jobs overseas and destroy local jobs? There is only one reason: this Prime Minister is beholden to the Greens and to a couple of Independents who forgot why they came to Canberra— (Time expired)