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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 10140


Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP (Mackellar) (18:52): I am delighted to follow my colleague the shadow minister for small business who made such a strong and powerful contribution to this debate. It is disappointing that the Labor Party seems to have given up trying to defend its package of clean energy bills. Either the powers that be thought that their members were not up to the debate or they simply ran out of people who had something to say. But there is plenty to say about these bills. There is plenty to say about the carbon tax.

I almost felt sorry for the Prime Minister today. She is so dejected because she knows she is for the chop. But I thought, 'No, the pity that I have must be for the Australian people because they are the ones who are to be punished by this legislation.' And punishment is what those opposite are about. The whole concept of compensation is that first you injure somebody and then you compensate them. This government says on its modelling—its wonderful modelling, which has still not been released and not been properly done on the $23 a tonne it is going to impose—it is going to injure the average family $9.90 a week. That is the extent of the damage it says the average family will suffer. So it is going to compensate for that damage $10.10 a week. Anybody who thinks that Treasury can accurately model down to the last 20c truly believes there are fairies at the bottom of the garden. Every year Treasury gets it wrong with the budget. The figures are always wrong. Six months later we bring in supplementary estimates to correct the errors that were committed in the budget. To believe that Treasury could say, 'We are going to injure you $9.90 and compensate you $10.10,' and get that right, as I said, is to believe there are fairies at the bottom of the garden.

The injury that is going to be done to the country is because of the way in which Labor always goes about governing. When Paul Keating was defeated he left a debt behind of $96 billion. It took us 10 years to pay it off, but pay it off we did. We left the country in really good shape. We left a surplus of $20 billion. We had set up various trust funds. We had set up the Future Fund. Now I hear this government is even going to raid the Future Fund. Nothing is sacrosanct.

Dr Mike Kelly: You know that's not true.

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP: I know it is true. The fact of the matter is that it is in their DNA. It is usually tax and spend, but this time it is the other way round—it is spend and tax. We are now nearly $100 billion in debt again. That is net debt. It is getting close to $200 billion gross debt. When they took office the borrowing limit was $75 billion. It went up to $200 billion and it is headed for $250 billion. Instead of having a situation where we are in good shape to face what might be a second financial crisis in the world, the waste and pillage of that legacy that we left means they have left us vulnerable; hence, they want a new tax. But the problem is they cannot even get this one right.

They say they are actually planning to spend $4.3 billion more than they are going to raise by the tax over the forward estimates. They going to bring $2.9 billion of that forward into this current financial year. Where are they going to find the money? They are going to borrow it. They are borrowing $135 million a day. That is why they want a great big new tax on everything—and it is a great big new tax on everything. It is a cascading and compounding tax, which will get into the nook and cranny of every individual's life.

We remember with the GST when John Howard said there would never be a GST. He changed his mind. He took it to an election. He was elected and the GST replaced an abolished tax. The wholesale sales tax was abolished. The GST replaced that tax. The GST is a value added tax, which means that, although the tax is paid on every transaction between the origin of the good or service and its final consumption, it is refunded at every level so that only the final consumer actually pays the tax. But with this carbon tax, which is a tax on electricity, the tax will be paid at every transaction level and you will pay tax on the tax and a tax on the tax on the tax because it cascades and compounds so that the consumer pays a very high tax indeed.

The way it works is this: the cheapest form of electricity you can have in the world bar none comes from coal fired power stations. Ninety per cent of power on the eastern seaboard comes from coal fired power stations, 80 per cent across Australia. The government is going to put a punitive levy, tariff, burden—call it what you will—on the market price of coal. The price the market has set, which is cheaper than anything else, will have an artificial impost on it to make it more expensive so that other forms of energy source can compete. That is distorting the market, not having a market price. It then means that electricity costs rise.

Electricity touches everything we do, whether it is the clock ticking away leaving me a minute and a bit still to speak, whether it is the exit sign light over there, whether it is the trains that run, whether it is the sewerage system or whether it is our water system. Whatever it is, electricity drives it. That is the mark of a civilised society. This tax will be on everything that it does. Therefore the cost of food will rise because of the refrigeration costs and because of the costs of having trucks bring it. The Prime Minister has said there will be exemptions. There will not. Even the family car when you are filling up, which is supposed to not be affected, will be affected. What do they think keeps the lights on in the petrol station? How do you think you pump the fuel out of the tanks? Electricity. Everything will be touched and it impacts dramatically most on seniors. It does so because they are the people who are on fixed incomes. Debate interrupted.