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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 74


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (10:19): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Australian people have already voted upon this bill, and now the parliament gets its chance.

The SPEAKER: I recognise the Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, the requirements of standing order 142 have not been met. We do not have copies of this bill available to us in the chamber. We are not able to proceed with the second reading.

The SPEAKER: I did mention earlier that if a point of order were to be of a frivolous nature or meant to disrupt the orderly business of the parliament then I would not entertain that point of order. The point is that for the many years that both you and I have been in this House the practice has been to put the bills at the end of the table where they are readily available to members. That has been a practice that has been accepted by the members of the House for many years, and I say that that is meeting the requirements for the purposes of this House.

Now, if the Manager of Opposition Business wishes to persist in a manner that will disturb the business of the House, we will have to deal with it—as we will have to deal with any disorderly conduct from the galleries above. So I suggest that in the interests of this place we should let the business of the House proceed. We have had a display of the new, energetic nature of the opposition and entertained that this morning. And I think now it is proper that the business of the House proceed.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker—

The SPEAKER: If this is to be a frivolous matter or one that is designed to disrupt the business of the House, I will not entertain the point of order.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I simply want to bring to your attention the precedent during the final term of the Howard government when this exact standing order was brought to the Speaker's attention and the Work Choices bills were then fetched and brought to the House.

The SPEAKER: Order! There are copies of the bill there, which can be taken one by one—if you don't mind. When we see that they have run out, we will arrange for further copies to be brought into this place. In the meantime, I call the Prime Minister.

Mr ABBOTT: The Australian people have already voted upon this bill.

Now, the parliament gets its chance.

The 2013 election was a referendum on the carbon tax.

The people have spoken.

Now, it is up to this parliament to show that it has listened.

The Australian people have pronounced their judgment against the carbon tax: they want it gone.

This bill delivers. It delivers on the coalition's commitment to the Australian people to scrap this toxic tax.

It is also a cornerstone of the government's plan for a stronger economy built on lower taxes, less regulation and stronger businesses.

Repealing the carbon tax should be the first economic reform of this parliament—and it will be followed by further economic reforms: bills to repeal the mining tax, to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission and to deal with Labor's debt legacy.

The first impact of this bill will be on households, whose overall costs will fall $550 a year on average.

Thanks to this bill, household electricity bills—

An incident having occurred in the gallery—

The SPEAKER: Order! I ask the Prime Minister to take his seat for one moment. There is obviously an orchestrated demonstration within the public gallery today. I warn those persons in the gallery that, if they persist with this course of action, I will have no option but to clear that gallery. I would apologise to anyone who has come in good faith and is sitting in that gallery if that has to occur. So I simply say to those people who wish to behave in a disorderly manner to desist or I will have to ask that the gallery be cleared. I call the Prime Minister.

Mr ABBOTT: Thank you, Madam Speaker. The first impact of this bill will be on households, whose overall costs will fall $550 a year on average. Thanks to this bill, household electricity bills will be $200 lower next financial year without the carbon tax.

Household gas bills will be $70 lower next financial year without the carbon tax.

Prices for groceries, for household items and for services will also fall, because the price of power is embedded in every price in our economy.

This is our bill to reduce the bills of the people of Australia.

When the price of power comes down, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will be ready to ensure that these price reductions are passed on to households and businesses.

But families and pensioners will keep the tax cuts and the benefit increases already provided.

The carbon tax will go, but the carbon tax compensation will stay so that every Australian should be better off.

Repealing the carbon tax will reduce costs for all Australian businesses—every single one of them.

The previous government argued that only big business paid the carbon tax.

That simply was not true. Every small business paid the carbon tax through higher electricity and gas bills and higher costs for supplies.

As well, the carbon tax also acts as a reverse tariff.

Not only does the carbon tax make it more difficult for Australian businesses to compete abroad; it makes it more difficult for domestic businesses to compete at home—because there is no carbon tax on imports.

Repealing the carbon tax also removes over 1,000 pages of primary and subordinate legislation.

Repealing the carbon tax cuts the size of the climate change bureaucracy.

So repealing the carbon tax will reduce the cost of living, make jobs more secure and improve the competitive position of our country. Why would anyone be against that, particularly when it is what the Australian people have just voted for?

Repealing the carbon tax is what the employers and the job providers of our country want now.

The Business Council of Australia 'supports the wind-up of the current carbon pricing mechanism given it places excessive costs on business and households because (our) carbon charge … is now one of the highest in the world'.

The carbon tax has ripped through the economy—hitting schools, hospitals, nursing homes, charities, churches, council swimming pools and community centres.

It has hit each and every group, and each and every individual, that uses power—and that was always its goal: to make electricity more expensive.

That was the intention of the previous government: to put power prices up, because that was their way of reducing carbon emissions.

The intention of the new government is to put power prices down by axing this toxic tax and by using other means to reduce emissions.

By reducing the cost of electricity and gas, we will help to make households better off, workers more secure and our economy stronger.

No-one should be in any doubt—the government is repealing the carbon tax in full.

We are not playing word games, we are not playing tactical political games—we are doing what we were elected to do.

Others have said they would terminate the carbon tax, but they were only renaming it.

We are not renaming it.

We are not floating it.

We are not keeping the machinery in place so that we can dust it off in the future.

We are abolishing the carbon tax in full.

We have said what we mean and we will do what we say—the carbon tax goes. It goes.

Repealing the carbon tax at the end of the financial year provides certainty for business and simplifies the transition.

It means this government will not be proceeding with the previous government's legislated carbon tax increase that would have taken effect from 1 July 2014.

Our bill abolishes the tax in full.

As well, Labor's carbon tax changes for the on-road fuel costs of heavy vehicles that were going to commence on 1 July 2014 will not happen.

That saves consumers the previous government's planned increase in the price of everything that had to be trucked around the country.

Unfortunately, the new government cannot undo the past; we can only make the future better—and that is what we intend to do.

Under this government, the carbon tax will not apply from 1 July, so there will be no need for further compensation packages. We will end the merry-go-round of carbon tax industry assistance that takes from one pocket and puts less back in the other.

But we will ensure that the benefits of repealing the carbon tax are passed onto consumers. The ACCC will have further powers to take action against any business that engages in price exploitation in relation to the carbon tax repeal.

Penalties of up to $1.1 million for corporations and $220,000 for individuals will apply.

The government is repealing the carbon tax because there is a less complicated and less costly way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions—a way that will actually reduce emissions and will not damage the economy.

The government will scrap the carbon tax and then proceed with its Direct Action Plan.

The centrepiece of the Direct Action Plan will be the Emissions Reduction Fund—a market based mechanism for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, a fund which provides a powerful and direct additional incentive for businesses to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The fund will use positive incentives to reduce Australia's emissions.

Direct action through the fund means more trees, better soils and smarter technology—this is the right way to get emissions down.

Madam Speaker, the carbon tax is a $9 billion hit on the economy this year alone.

It is a $9 billion burden on jobs, a $9 billion burden on investment and a $9 billion burden on Australia that we just do not need.

This bill gets rid of it.

This bill is the government's bill to reduce people's bills, and I so commend this bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.