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Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Page: 707

Dr SOUTHCOTT (Boothby) (18:40): On the night of the election the Prime Minister elect got up and said, 'The people have spoken and the government has changed.' The policies we took to the election were very clear and one of the cornerstone policies was the abolition of the carbon tax. This was not some side issue; this has been at the centre of the political debate in this country for the last four or five years. If you are concerned about jobs then you cannot support a carbon tax. If you are concerned about the impact of cost of living on families then it is crazy to support a carbon tax. The carbon tax has been a direct hit on the hip pockets of families. The message at the last election was very clear and voters were very clear about what was being offered, that a vote for the coalition was a vote to abolish the carbon tax.

The Leader of the Opposition wants people to continue to pay 10 per cent more on their electricity bills. He wants them to continue to pay more on their gas bills. The carbon tax is a $9 billion hit on the economy this year alone and it hits every home, every hospital, every school, every charity. In my own state of South Australia we heard about the impact on Penrice Soda and the impact on Adelaide Brighton, iconic South Australian companies. We heard about the impact this would have on manufacturing and we heard about the impact this would have on all small businesses, including refrigerating businesses. In my electorate the Belair Hotel received one of the first itemised electricity bills after the carbon tax, and what that bill showed clearly was that the increase in their off-peak power rate was 44 per cent as a direct result of the carbon tax. Their January electricity bill was $15,494.83. When they got their July bill, the first bill under the carbon tax, it was $19,092.65. A large part of that came from the leap of 4.5c per kilowatt hour to 6.51c a kilowatt hour in the off-peak power rate. The reason given on the July bill was 'carbon adjustment'. Belair hotel director, Brett Matthews, stated that the extra cost would mean either jobs cut or prices raised at this popular hotel which employs about 75 people.

We have already introduced into parliament the carbon tax repeal bill. This is a central part of the coalition's plan to build a stronger economy and to help address cost-of-living pressures on families. Scrapping the carbon tax means that households will be $550 better off in 2014-15 alone. It means that electricity bills will be $200 lower a year and gas bills $70 lower a year. Families in my electorate of Boothby are really feeling the pinch of increasing cost-of-living pressures.

Household budgets are suffering, and one of the best things that we can do in Canberra to help them is to abolish the carbon tax immediately. As I said before, the people of Australia spoke; the people of Boothby, my electorate, spoke as well and they were very clear about what they voted for. One of the main things they voted for was the abolition of the carbon tax. That means that it is now up to parliament to repeal this tax.

The Leader of the Opposition has already said that Labor will vote to keep the carbon tax. What this demonstrates—and I think it was the Minister for Agriculture who put it so well—is that we have government change deniers.

Ms Hall: Just climate change deniers!

Dr SOUTHCOTT: Thank you, member for Shortland—there are government change deniers in the ranks of the Labor Party and in the ranks of the opposition. They just have not accepted the result of the September election, and they do not understand the impact that this has on jobs and the impact that this has on household budgets.

I know that amongst a lot of people there is a bit of cynicism: 'Well, prices just continue to go up, and will you really see prices come down as a result of removing the carbon tax?' The ACCC have been very clear on this. They have said that they will have the powers to ensure that cost reductions from the repeal of this carbon tax are passed on. Rod Sims said:

I think this is really quite a straightforward issue. Prices went up by nine per cent. There's not much doubt about that number. It was the number that people have had for some time. That's what happened when the price was introduced, and of course, when you take it away, you reverse that. I really it's quite straightforward.

So repealing the carbon tax will help families, it will help jobs and it will help households with those cost-of-living pressures by taking electricity down and by taking gas down. It will help the economy and it will demonstrate that Australia is open for business again.